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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bait gone, time for the switch

I see that Portland doesn't have the money to turn Washington High School in the Buckman neighborhood into a community center after all. But the developer guy's still hanging around with a "Plan B." Wow, you don't say.

How long, do you think, before Super Carole sells the property off to the apartment weasels?

Comments (23)

Lemme guess, Jack: by lunchtime today?

I give it a week before it's practically given to the hipsters.

I wish they'd do *something* with that site--it's absurd to let such a large property sit idle for so long.

Ask the mayor, he seems to find money anytime he wants something.

now, Mary - you know he needs to wait a bit to pull any more money out of BES and Water's pockets - after all, they do need to set their rates so the software can be reconfigured. Maybe in July when no one cares about schools - like the Friday before the 4th?

Citizens who've been working on that plan for 30 years found out that the project had been killed via the media. I think that says everything you need to know about how business is done in this city.

What's the problem with selling it to developers (or anyone who wants to buy it), so long as the sale price is legit? That's a lot less monkey business then any other option.

Maybe Goodwill will buy it and turn it into senior cultural creative apartments.

The problem is that the public has paid for this land, it is a public investment to remain in public hands. Getting a fair price today (which I doubt we would get) will not necessarily guarantee sufficient funds to replace any future needs. Quite frankly, investment problems as we know today are simply not as secure as keeping the land and building in public hands.

Also, why do we need more developments when the public needs and services that ought to accompany more density are not considered? Light rail is coming in the area and with more density, more park land will be needed. Where will any land be available for parks? You don't just fill up every piece of property that there is. Or will the public have to be pay for cleaning up some toxic land somewhere to provide a new park?

And the scenario we have constantly been told - millions more are coming. Now if that is really so, then years from now, we the public will be asked to buy new land and build a new school - how much money then?

Best to stay in public hands. Meanwhile, we need buildings and lands, how about a community garden and meeting rooms for the public, gym facilities for the public, tennis courts, classrooms connected with our community colleges, more park land and many other public uses.
Look our city seems to have plenty of money for their pet projects, apparently this is not one of them except to see that somehow the whole plot benefits whom?

Well said.

Just like on the national stage -- kleptocracy. We get the irreplaceable value of today's commons (much of it originally donated by civic minded citizens) given away for private profit, all the while the public story is that this is the People's Confiscatory Republic of Portland.

Let's do a what-if on that story. Suppose PPR announced they would include a bond measure on the November ballot in order to fund a renovation of the building into a mixed use project (community center on the ground, bunkers on top). You'd still get bunkers, only paid for with tax dollars, and Park Bureau tax dollars at that. This isn't monkey business?

As it stands now, the developer either walks or finds another angle. PPS either plays ball or sells to the highest bidder. PPR still owns 5 acres on the site and will do whatever they do to make it usable. Everybody's tax increases over the next few years will be marginally less. What's not to like?

You cite several potential social purposes the building could be put to, but what is stopping the groups that champion those purposes from tendering an offer to PPS? If the answer is they can't do it without a citywide bond then I probably don't want them doing it.

The city borrows so much money for crap, and it's been lying to the Buckman neighborhood about this community center for years -- at least 10 years, probably more.

They could take half the money they used on that asinine "park" in SoWhat and what they're blowing on the equally ridiculous wrecking of PGE Park and done something nice for the long-suffering people of Buckman, who host most of Portland's high-impact social services.

But no.

Why not develop the property for commercial use but keep it in Public hands?

We need to start thinking of ways to generate income for schools and other community resources other than raising taxes.

And....It's a 'park deficient' neighborhood. The open space in the track alone is a community gem. Community space open to community members would be a huge benefit. Use the parking lots for community farmer's markets. Jack it and wire it so community groups can utilize it.

The WaMo facility should have been an active community center facility years ago. The city sat on its hands when neighbors kept asking for help in developing it into a community center. But, NOooo... The Parks Bureau and the City spent their monies forcing things on neighborhoods who didn't want them, on meeting the demands of Homer to provide advertising fodder to sell his schlock, on creating expensive unappealing legacy projects like Tanner Creek, building corrupt contracting relationships with family and friends, and gutting the funding and support for decent programming for kids.

But...It's all closed off to public use, isn't it? Nobody uses anything, right?

That's there as proof that what the community wants isn't 'workable'. It can't be supported, so it will have to be sold to private interests. Who, miraculously, will have some way to stimulate interest and activity, and engender a 'new renaissance' for Inner SE. With plenty of public subsidy, of course.

Selling off the WaMo facility will be because the community wouldn't support opening another fiscal vein with yet another Parks Levy.

"Well, we gotta sell it...the budget demands it."

It'll be further proof that PPS has no consideration for it's constituent base, either. At least in SE Portland.

Why have these two local governments not made WaMo Community Center a reality years ago is beyond me.

I think they were holding it off for another deal.
How about until light rail money came?
We know what that means, don't we?

A paradigm shift may be needed rather than what if.

It is pretty clear, the game should end before some get every last drop they can through council. What we need is for the council and the school board to put citizen’s interests first. You may be in the biz if your vision is the “old one of still more mixed use”. Isn’t that so yesterday? We don’t need more vacant bunkers.

We need to move forward to a new page, new ways and what works best for citizens and future needs. . . the economy is up in the air and where and when it lands no one knows . . until then I maintain to put this on hold and keep this land and building in public hands, for as Bob Dylan says The Times They Are A-Changin’

Clinamen, read the bottom paragraph of this. The mixed use project is what just fell through, that's what PPR decided not to fund. I'm not pushing condos, I'm trying to point out that the project you are lamenting was condos, with a community center for dressing and taxpayers presumably on the hook for renovation costs. How do you think that would work out?

The problem here is that no one has a plan for re-using the high school building without taxpayer support, which is to say that its a money pit. Sell it for market value, let someone else do something productive on the site with their own funding, and keep the city government and taxpayers out of it.

That would be a paradigm shift.

bjc --

"keep city government and taxpayers out of it" -- that train left the station a few years ago. Please refer to the boundaries of the Central Eastside Urban Renewal area:

Note the little jiggered puzzle piece jutting out from the Eastside boundary -- that's Washington Monroe. It was added to the Urban renewal zone with support from Eastside residents, as we were told this would enable the Community Center.


It appears you are for selling this prime placed property and I am for the public who owns this land to keep it for the future. Selling it at a market value now would most likely be at a loss.

Just because there is "no plan as you state it" doesn't mean the land is not a valuable investment for the community to plan for once a paradigm shift occurs.

Too much emphasis on market only counts now and trumps over people. The paradigm shift I envision is that people count, and public interests count.

Anne Dufay,

So Eastside people were told by putting this property into an urban renewal area they would get a community center. It appears that the underlying reason may have been to use that UR piece of property for other development if light rail could be brought into the Eastside and may be the reason for the delay of the community center plan the neighborhood thought they were getting.

Does city have training workshops on how to push negative plans on our communities? In my opinion, they have been taught very well how to implement their agenda. Ignoring the people and going against their wishes and interests time after time, project after project doesn’t seem to phase them.

What many of us in inner SE and on the WAMO committee were interested in was artist's studios and preserving the existing theater in the school. When PICA held its annual event there last summer, we all crossed our fingers and hoped that someone who could see how perfect this was, would start the ball rolling. Too bad there is not enough money in this "creative city" and not enough vision to bring something like this off.

Too bad there is not enough money in this
"creative city"

Are you kidding? There's a ton of money, but not for Buckman. If this was a Pearl project, it would have been done five years ago or more, no questions asked.


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