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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cha-ching! More green for the boys

We must have missed the memos on this one. The Portland Development Commission is going to build a "sustainability center of excellence" -- a "structure that will be an icon for green building and highlight the city's leadership in sustainability." It's going to be down by Portland State.

And you get three guesses as to who's going to build it for the PDC... Come on, now, think really, really hard...

Right! Gerding Edlen Development, SERA Architects, GBD Architects, and Hoffman Construction.

Originally Gerding Edlen was supposed to build "workforce housing" on this site; that never panned out, apparently. Who knows what it will be now? But it will be green. And the Usual Suspects will make a ton of dough. And property taxes from all over the city will pay the freight. Of some things, you can be sure.

We do hope they hand out soup to the people starving outside. Go by streetcar!

Comments (14)

These planners must have graduated from the PSU school of administration where "centers of excellence" got their start. Nothing like a "center of excellence" funded with about 45% of the money needed for basic functionality.

The folks who need the soup (that will be all of us who used to pay taxes) will have to walk because 'fareless square' will be no more.
See you in line!

Green soup . . . Pea soup. And it will be LEED certified!

If they REALLY want to go green, they should just 'recycle' the empty CYAN building down the street.

"the new building will be a sustainable structure that has "never been tried before."

That's sounds like a recipe for success! Whats the odds of this thing pushing $1000/sqft?

Gerding Edlen (probably the rest) are on the brink of bankruptcy. I wondered how they would be rescued.

Ahhh. Their friends the Portland Developers Commission.

I wonder if Randy will give this a serious chin rubbing between skits?

Oh wait, guess who is on Randy's C&Es as big donors?
Come on, now, think really, really hard...

yep,,,Gerding Edlen Development, SERA Architects, GBD Architects, and Hoffman Construction.

Steve -- er, Ben -- er, Afraid of Randy: I hate to break this to you, but there is no such punctuation in the English language as multiple commas in a row. Every time you do it, you show people that your many clever aliases are all the same guy. Please pick one alias and stay with it.

Five dollars says that workforce housing was a give-back required in exchange for some exception to the rules and costs regular people have to comply with. Chance the exception will be rescinded? Bwa-hah-hah-hah-ha!

Has anybody done a citizen's audit of workforce housing promised vs delivered in City projects?

Has anybody done a citizen's audit of workforce housing promised vs delivered in City projects?

I was one of the original renters at Riverplace, a heavily PDC-subsidized project, with a "workforce housing" component.

When the developers decided to kick all the renters out, and I protested to PDC, even quoting their development agreement with the developers, I got shoulder shrugs and snarky "not our issue" blowoffs.

The irony was that while I had a "rent to own" lease, when I made an offer the developer told me that my $100,000+ offer to buy was "too low." At the same time, the developer was appealing to the County that the assessed valuations in the $70ks range were "too high." They lost their initial appeal to the Board of Equalization when I testified to their hypocrisy.

All public record.

Still, as one of the last renters to be kicked out, I remember a very cold winter when all the units around me were vacant, and the heat in them turned off.

It doesn't take an auditor to count the number of affordable housing units promised in South Waterfront, but which remain unbuilt.

Or to count the renters kicked out of Portland Center --one of the first projects of PDC-- when it decided to go condo. Where I lived, ironically, before I moved to Riverplace years ago.

There's an important role for PDC. But distorting the market and displacing tenants shouldn't be part of their job description.

Some or all of the funding for this project may come from federal stimulus dollars or state bonds.


Check out "The Oregon Way" section and also the "Go Oregon!" section.

I hope that some of you financial wizards will ask to be on the Governor's "Oregon Way Advisory Group" to make sure that stimulus dollars aren't going for questionable projects, such as sports arenas in Portland or this showcase green edifice. Perhaps there is someone who will propose building some green affordable housing instead.

About a quarter of the states already have their recovery websites linked at the federal website, http://www.recovery.gov/ Oregon is not one of them.

Does anyone know how we can check to make sure that zero federal stimulus dollars are slated to help fund the proposed sports arenas?

"It doesn't take an auditor to count the number of affordable housing units promised in South Waterfront, but which remain unbuilt."

True, but there is another side to this issue.

The vision of SoWa is confused. One side sees 30% of TIF money being spent on low income housing, and more being spent on homes for disabled vets, and other noble, but low-class uses.

The other side is ugly and classist, and I may burn eternally for writing about it.

That vision of spending money on affordable housing means crazy vets sitting on the benches in poodle poop park, making the hip people feel uneasy. It means poor, unemployed people getting drunk all day in the condos next to the ones the developers are trying to sell for $1000/sf. These smelly undesirables will ride the same elevators and shop at the same grocery store as the rich people. They will piss in the stairwells of the ped bridge. They will hang out on the new MAX bridge, making rich people feel uncomfortable about walking across the river at night. The MAX will open the place up to more criminal activity. Then there's the traffic, which by all accounts will be gridlock for several hours each day by 2020 no matter how much money we throw at the problem.

The only hope for partially salvaging this planning disaster is to scrap the idea of building housing for poor people and disabled vets in SoWa. Housing for teachers, med students, nurses, and researchers is fine, but nothing poorer than that. The neighborhood must be an exclusive, posh area, where the filthy rich can live next door to a med student who could resuscitate them in the elevator if they keel over from eating too much fois gras. Otherwise, nobody will build any more buildings there, and none of the other infrastructure will get built.

Given the prevailing ethos of Portland, isn't it time we build a Leed Certified brothel?

Brothels will be legal in Portland only when Sam Adams stops getting it for free ...

Not all low income people piss in stairwells and some who are better off are nobody I would want to live next door to.

Income is no barometer of manners. It would be better if landlords would base their decisions about tenancy upon positive recommendations of past landlords, utility companies (who received payment on time), and a personal interview with the prospective tenants. If the tenant can make the payments, there shouldn't be any nonsense about making 2-5 times the monthly rental. Deposits and fees should cover any potentialities.

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