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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Night of the living condos

The previously abandoned condo bunker plan.

We breathed a sigh of relief a year or so ago when a Lake Oswego developer gave up on his plans to erect a huge apartment bunker at the nice corner of NE 15th and Hancock in a historic section of Northeast Portland. But an alert reader writes: "Walked by and noticed a demolition delay notice for the Irvington Guest House. Condo weasel developers much be resurrecting a plan."

Sure enough, the place is now owned by three companies, fronted by somebody named David Mullens of Creston Homes LLC, and the plan is to take the existing building down. For what? We shudder to think.

On the latest city records, the address for all three owners is 735 SW 158th in Beaverton. That's the headquarters of Arbor Custom Homes, which has had its hand in particle-board subdivisions of townhouses and detached homes throughout Portland suburbia. Listed by the state as a member of Creston Homes is Dennis Sackhoff, the CEO of Arbor Custom Homes. The other two companies, Actionway Investments and Autoway Investments, are less than a year old.

Comments (17)

some people call those 'Stack-a-Shacks'

Maybe you could take up a collection here and make Sackoff an offer to buy the land. Then you all could do whatever "preservation" or whatever you all want with it.

Guess it is easier and cheaper to whine to mommy at city hall and have them do your bidding for you.

Guess it is easier and cheaper to whine to mommy at city hall and have them do your bidding for you.

If the developers of the property can't meet approval criteria, no need for whining--Sack will not be permitted to move forward. If Sack meets the code, they can build the dream palace. Simple

"Guess it is easier and cheaper to whine to mommy at city hall and have them do your bidding for you."

I know, right? I can't believe how much those developers get their way at City Hall. It appears "whining" really paid off for them, repeatedly...

I grew up in Irvington........like since the 1960's. The apartment "bunker" you claim is so ugly is actually an improvement over that old dilapidated boarding house that is there now. There is nothing "historic" about that home and there are other similar large apartment buildings in the area. I don't understand the fuss?

And I am sure the new tenants would be quite an improvement over the ones that had been coming and going at that location for years.

And I am sure the new tenants would be quite an improvement over the ones that had been coming and going at that location for years.

Why would new tenants be an improvement?

I don't understand the fuss?

You're late to this discussion. The site is next to a truly historic property that deserves some setback and height and design compatibility. The last owner wanted six stories, right up to the right-of-way.

There are also some trees.

That site will redevelop eventually. No avoiding it. It's on 15th and within a couple blocks of Broadway.

The problem is the zoning. A six-story building there is ridiculous. A four-story that is respectful the historic property next door might bum out the nieghbors, but be acceptable.

The issue is zoning. The entire city, including almost all neighborhoods of single-family homes have been upzoned to allow density well beyond what is there now. This is true of basically every neighborhood in the city.

We must accomodate "The Million" without allowing Hillsboro to stretch its borders one iota, you know.

Ever wonder why Portland planners are more interested in accomodating hypothetical people who don't live here yet, instead of protecting neighborhoods for people who are here now paying their salaries? Something to think about....

Agreed, so why the vilification of a developer who bought the site a few months ago for almost $1 million based on the current allowed zoning and uses? Shouldn't your ire be toward the brain surgeons in the Planning...I mean Sustainability department?

Without commenting on development, that is a remarkable use of Photoshop to show before and after. I would be fascinated to see a thorough examination of Portland through the photographic age using similar technique.

Wow. Those guys paid $93 per square foot before demolition costs for that site. Ouch! And we thought the bubble had already burst. Are they going to provide on site parking?

"Are they going to provide on site parking?"

Ha ha ha ha ha! That's a good one, PD.

I don't understand why these jerks don't get it that this would be fine to put on Broadway or Weidler, already busy, crowded main streets. Putting it off those main streets in a single-family neighborhood is simply bad news.

Main streets = good for new development/expansion

Neighborhood streets = leave 'em the hell alone

Interesting project for Arbor to take on; quite a deviation from their usual suburban, cookie-cutter Garage Mahals. Gotta take work where you can find it these days, I guess.

Didn't Irvington get on some kind of historical register that bascially kills redevelopment? I thought the whole point of that was to stop this particular lot from going.

Irvington is a candidate for a national historic district designation, I believe. That would trigger additional requirements to respect the historic character of the neighborhood. But at that location, even that would allow apartments.

To me the question is, if there have to be apartments, how much setback from the street and the historic inn next door does there have to be? What should the height limit be? And how much landscaping should be required?

The condo bunker goons typically want no setback, ghastly five or six stories, and not a green thing to be seen from the street except potted plants on tiny, tacky decks that nobody ever goes out on. Otherwise, they whine that "it won't pencil." Fine, then don't build it. Go back to Beaverton or California or wherever.

I was walking through a historic district recently and noticed that many of the multi-story homes had been converted to multiple units in the distant past and some had been reconverted (unified) and some remained with multiple addresses on one lot ... got to thinking about how these are the same people who show up at neighborhood meetings and scream about how awful anything that changes the "historic character" of the street is ... when the character of their street is actually a polyglot of things from different periods. Many of the loudest screamers live in historic homes that they would have fought against like the dickens had they been there at the time.

The bottom line is that real estate values are still, after all this, wildly inflated in that the average person with an average job has the same chance of buying an average home or getting a secure lease in a decent place as the average snowball has of surviving an August in hell. Until that rectifies itself, the name of the game is addition by subtraction -- the weasels keep adding units by subtracting space, charm, quality of materials, consideration for neighbors, etc. When they've got enough units for it to "pencil" is when they stop removing things, not until. In other words, they aren't builders in any sense as the word was known up until the 1960s -- they are financial engineers who happen to dabble in real-estate-sized products, as opposed to fast-food-meal-sized products. They would no more live in any of the places they glue together than they would fly to the moon on gossamer wings.

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