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Monday, August 9, 2010

Ouch! They're starting to call SoWhat "the projects"!

An informed reader writes:

This is pretty good. Just talked to someone today who told me that among themselves local real estate agents are starting to speak of the South Waterfront development as "the projects." They can't sell anything down there, and as far as they can see its destiny is clear. Maybe the neighborhood jail isn't such a bad idea after all.
Wow. For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, "the projects" is what they call multi-unit public housing complexes back east -- including many of the scariest dwelling places in the country.

Comments (24)

If only there had been a blogger with an understanding of financial matters who could have warned us about this while there was still time.
You know - some kind of professor type.

It's not just "back east" either. St. Louis was home to the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects, which was deemed as one of the biggest failures that the FHA ever came up with. It was demolished all of 18 years after the first of 33 buildings opened.

The story of this particular project will sound very familiar. It starts with "Urban Renewal", then a quasi-government agency buys up the land and sells it at reduced pricing to private developers, who then architect and plan the thing with a healthy amount of Government objection and changes.

This particular project had a unique "feature": skip-stop elevators that only stopped on the first, fourth, seventh, and 10th floors; which made it nice and convenient for muggers to take your stuff and beat you down in the stairwells.

More info:

It feels like it is time for government to adopt the philosophy of doing a few things really well instead of doing so many thing really poorly.

It's not just "back east" either. St. Louis was home . . .

Heck, you don't even have to look outside Portland. We've got our very own "project" in the form of Columbia Villa, both the old one and the new one.

I doubt SoWhat is going to be the next Columbia Villa, but it ain't going to be no Upper East Side or Gold Coast any more, that's for sure.

Yeesh. You aren't kidding. I have a distinct feeling that SoWhat will be looked back upon in another ten or twenty years as a classic "What the hell were we thinking?" moment. That is, after it's used for location shooting for a remake of Escape From New York.

I always liked Cabrini-Green in Chicago as a place to have fun and meet new friends.

Well, there's one way of getting rid of all the evil cars... scare away employers, scare away families with kids by shutting down schools, scare away commerce by barricading the streets with construction projects and "improvements", build unaffordable ugly places to "live simply" and presto! No more cars 'cause no more people! (Except the homeless riding around on bicyles.)


Old Shep, you beat me to the punch. That was the first place that came into my mind when I read the word "projects".

Stalingrad on the Willamette.

The lessons of Cabrini-Green and Pruitt-Iagoe and the Soviet experience were out there and respected in architecture, social science, etc, but the development/planning mafia brews its own cool-aid. People tried to tell them, but the mafia juggernaut couldn't be stopped. It's another enterprise that should have been criminal if it wasn't .

SoWa has other shennanigans going on.

After millions were spent on the StreetCar to the Tram it will all be torn out.

It must be moved 100 feet along with Moody street and the entire area lifted by 14 feet all to accomodate Milwaukie Light Rail,
AND it is not included as part of the MLR cost.

How many ways does the Milwaukie Light Rail stink?

By my latest estimate about $2 billion ways.

Lincoln Park High School grad here. Lincoln Park was the neighborhood high school for Cabrini Green. I lived in the hood, and those apartments were like a hood in a third world country. The Robert Taylor homes on Pershing were equally frightening. Oh the stories...

Tex Trif Ranch - who says we have to wait ten or twenty years? Many people were asking "what were they thinking" before the first foundations were laid.

Worked one summer for a plastics factory in the Chicago area, running deliveries and pick-ups in heavy duty van. One of our suppliers was a tool and die-maker located just down the street from Cabrini Green -- locked gates, concertina wire, and a peep hole in place for protection. Always picked up/delivered to that site mornings on the theory that the bad guys didn't get out of bed b4 noon. Heck, the police wouldn't go into those buildings, not on a bet.

Hey dyspeptic, there is more honor in the mafia than the yokel planners and developers could dream of. Please do not defame the mafia by associating them with the likes of the local pond scum cabal of planners and developers on the taxpayers teat.

destiny is clear.

I dunno exactly what's going to happen with those steel hulks down there--it will be interesting to watch this unfold over the next 10 yrs.

What do you call a neighborhood of detached single family homes where the majority of the occupants have agreed to pay at least 50 percent more than the rental-justified price for their unit, with 3 percent or less in down payment?

Whatever one calls it the recipe for future decay is a near certainty.

A remedy, a proactive remedy, is to vigorously cap the valuation of collateral for loans to the rental-justified price, consistent with 18 USC 1014. This must be coupled with capping the valuation of the collateral for any government transfer payment to bankers and bank owners and holders of mortgage backed securities, and for the crazy derivatives of the same.

The endgame for any pyramid scheme is certain. But hey, lets just offer a capital gains tax cut while pumping up the money supply under the mantra of maintaining liquidity so that the whole house of cards does not collapse, at least not today.

It is all the borrower's fault, if one is to believe the vast majority of national news pieces, rather than the structural incentives for how the game is played.

We all live in a project now.

pdxnag - Single family buyers have a lot more stringent rules to get loans these days and most of them are not getting govt assistance to finance their dealings... we are talking about large developers and developments here that are feeding at the public trough. If Bob and Betty Beaverton or Peter and Peggy Portland or Gary and Greg Gresham go build a single family tract house somewhere no one is asking the taxpayer to subsidize the home or to put in light rail or make other ridiculous improvements that benefit a rare few.

And some of us own homes that are not only worth more than we paid for them but were in fact paid them off early thereby limiting the take of the banks. Not every is either dumb or irresponsible. And I have never paid less than 20% down on a house but then I started homeowning in the 80s when banks actually behaved in a rational fashion.

pdxnag - some of us actually live within our means, which is not something that any governmental body within 200 miles of Portland can claim.

I bought a house in 2007 here in Portland. I have yet to make one late payment, and every payment I have made has been more than the amount required. I can do this, because I am well employed, secure in my position (in fact, getting promoted next week); and other than that mortgage I have zero consumer debt.

I researched my buying decision long and hard, and signed nothing until I was sure it was the right choice. No crappy ARM loan, made sure the house wasn't a money pit, etc.

Both the banks, and the buyers, share responsibility for the bubble popping. To claim otherwise is ridiculous.

I took a tour of the John Ross this weekend with a friend of mine who intends to buy a condo.

Sure, the John Ross is "LEED GOLD", but part of the way they get there is by using very few lights in the common areas, I's dark and depressing in that building.

Sure, they've reduced prices drastically in that place (you can get a 2,200 square foot unit overlooking Carruthers park for $459k (still high), but if you factor in the taxes and HOA's...the John Ross, Atwater, and Merriwether condos still crazy expensive. And yes, I wouldn't hesitate to call SoWa "the projects".

Wrong fellow commentors. SoWhat has nothing in common with the Projects. The projects are ghetto high rise apartments for the least fortunate among us. SoWhat is designed and priced for consumers with more money than sense. I took a walk last Sunday through SoWhat and was struck by the sterlity and solitude of the place. No shopping, no street life, basically sucked... This will be easy to avoid.

SoWhat is exactly what?

But hey, lets just offer a capital gains tax cut while pumping up the money supply under the mantra of maintaining liquidity so that the whole house of cards does not collapse

There was nothing wrong with the capital gains tax cut, per se, nor was there anything particularly problematic about increasing the money supply during a recession. The bad decision was allowing the extension of exclusion from capital gains taxation to second homes and vacation homes during the late 1990s. This was not justified and only ended up steering more capital investment toward housing.

MJ wrote "The bad decision was allowing the extension of exclusion from capital gains taxation to second homes and vacation homes during the late 1990s. This was not justified and only ended up steering more capital investment toward housing."

Hey now, what about the trickle down economic benefits for all those real estate types and developer and builder types? You know trickle down was the logic, right?


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