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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

$65 million* of public money to give Gerding Edlen something to do

Nowadays, you wrap it in "green," but it's the same old line of "jobs" malarkey from the City of Portland as it throws literally tens of millions at a real estate play that will make a favored developer richer and leave the taxpayers with a white elephant. O.k., a "green" white elephant -- one that will become a quaint joke in short order.

[M]undane efforts, such as tenants putting up with cooler offices in the winter and warmer ones in the summer, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, not using hot water or energy-hog appliances, and minimizing electrical usage for desktop computers and personal electronic devices, must provide the rest.
What a wonderful place that is going to be for an office. Who's going to pay the astronomical rent that this moon station is going to need to pay for itself? NORML and OSPIRG? No one with any common sense is going to want to get near it.

Oh well, one more exhibit in the eccentric theme park that Portland has become. The bankruptcy will eventually put a stop to these. Go by streetcar! (Which, by the way, will cost another $4 million to have its tracks realigned.)

* - Preliminary liars' budget.

Comments (25)

But, but, but ... Sam Adams says we need it to be the world capital of sustainability.

Don't worry, Jack: it's being built as carbon offset for Adams' effort to pave over several hundred acres of Hayden Island. Folks buying the cars and burning the coal shipped from Asia and elsewhere need a clean, green place from which to run their business.

But seriously. Proponents think it's being built as a proof of concept, and so use that as justification for the mind-numbing public cost. I'd consider taking the joke more seriously if the same effort were taken to build *housing* in this way, or even tear down and recycle some of the overbuilt space that already exists.

The Living Building Challenge is nothing more than another way for the USGBC to perpetuate itself through fees, exams, and certifications. It will never be "cheap" to build buildings like this--in fact, it will become *more* expensive as the high-tech resources and resource-extractive inputs it requires become costlier and more scarce.

In other words, it's a stationary Tram with a USGBC medallion affixed to it.

Scottish was a.better concept. And I liked our public buildings better when "Green" was preceded by "Edith".

Ok, Steve Jobs, when I type "Ecotrust" I don't mean "Scottish" or even "cot rust", thank you..

On the whole this is preposterous. And many times examining the details of a proposed project tells you a lot about the viability of a whole project.

For example, they propose that the solar panels for the project "must be made" from no greater than 9,000 miles away. At our latitude of 45 degrees the 9,000 miles is more than 1/2 the distance around our planet, and would reach over 2/3rds of our planet. Gosh, that sure is a very restrictive clause that saves transportation energy.

Even the "validation study" by Balzhiser & Hubbard, paid for by the parties that will make money off this using our taxpayer dollars of $65 Million (certainly unbiased) stated that the energy savings projected is "very aggressive" and "may be overestimated".

Since Oregon Environmental Executive Director Andrea Durbin says we shouldn't be concerned with the building cost being way above normal building costs, she should pay for attempting to make her own living environment totally energy free. Same with Mark Edlen.

Even without the "tenant engagement" (which will absolutely end up being optional down the road, I assure you), it looks like the building is quite efficient all on its own. It's not hard to imagine there are certain companies that would like to have a space in cool looking, quote green unquote, building, especially in a few years if we start filling up office space like we used to again.

it looks like the building is quite efficient

No. The building is intended to be efficient, if and when it is built; there is no guarantee or promise that it will be, and no recourse if it isn't.

if we start filling up office space

If in this context makes all the difference in the world. But even if the economy causes companies to charge out and lease office space, that doesn't make the building a good idea, or sustainable, or green, or a good use of precious public funds.

Skipping the non-sustainability of the building, here's a more pragmatic two-part question to ask: What happens if the building doesn't live up to its ecological promises, and what happens if the building can't sustain itself economically?

Answer: "... and here you see the former site of the city of Portland... at one time an undiscovered jewel in the Pacific Northwest..."

I am sure glad I am not a public employee, particularly one of the unlucky ones that are going to move into that building. I can just imagine squinting in badly lighted areas when the sky is cloudy and the light shafts don’t bring enough of it in. I can hardly wait to watch them bundle up in the winter as the temperatures inside will be in the low sixties. Or watch them sweat in the summer when it gets to the middle eighties in there. Oh well they are Portlanders and most like ride bikes anyway so they are used to discomfort. Perhaps they will bring together all those folks now who think that bathing daily is unnecessary. I can just see everyone using the composting toilets and getting used to nice barnyard aromas in the bathrooms. I can also see all the accommodations that will need to be made for the folks that have Fibromyalgia and other pseudo physiological disorders wanting relief. Everyone will have a window that opens and will be able annoy each other with one being too hot and another too cold. New sports will be developed seeing how many people you can hit on the sidewalks below by tossing out pennies or water balloons. This will facilitate a nice bunch of lawsuits and that are just waiting for a money gravy train. After it is all done and the gripes keep coming in, another sixty two million dollars will be spent to retrofit the building back to normal.

At $462/sqft, the mortgage at 6% is $2.78/sqft/month. Remember, it goes up from here based on history.

Just to cover the mortgage means $33/sqft/yr, THEN you need to add in prop taxes, insurance, maintenance and profit.

To gauge, $33/sqft will lease you a pretty nice existing space in the Pearl district that is very comfortable HVAC-wise.

God, I didn't think anyone could out-Homer Homer, I was wrong.

I guess this locks up the planner-pod vote for Sam.

This is what happens when we let idiots get their filthy mitts on our tax money.

They peruse their dreams as to how other people should be forced to live. Without regard to basic economics or whether the average person can afford it.

The truth is that people's well being does not matter to people like the highly overpaid sustainable Susan. If she actually thinks proposals like this serve some real purpose, she should be on freeway ramp instead of collecting well over $100k /yr of tax money.


That first rendering looks like PGE Center, er, World Trade Center on Salmon street splashed with a lot of brown and green paint.

Didn't Frank Lloyd Wright express some heresy about "First it must be functional" or something? Oh, yeah, took some heat from the AIA for that. Sigh.

And the electrical wires can't be insulated with PVC? Perhaps beeswax and hemp fibers!

I'm sure Fireman Randy will go along with that.

Cool- Lets pay New York rents for some space in giant glass port-a-potty! I can smell it from here.

New buildings are the least sustainable solution available. The COP knows this because they already had use of the Eco Trust building. All of that concrete [ one of the most vile environmental products around ] , hi-tech electronic controls , motion detecting plumbing products and solar panels is destroying the planet. The glaciers are melting , tigers are gone , etc.
but dammm we look good driving off the cliff [ apologies to Susan Sarandon , who did look good driving off a cliff in that convertible T-Bird. ]

"At $462/sqft, the mortgage at 6% is $2.78/sqft/month. Remember, it goes up from here based on history."

I take it back, $72M for 132,000sqft = $545.45/sqft. A 6% mortgage is $39.24/sqft/yr.

They plan on renting the USABLE (ie not every last sqft foot) for $28.45/sqft/yr.

Great we are > $10/sqft in the hole ($1.32M) per year on this already.

Let's give welfare to the truly needy, not guys like Gerding-Edlen who can afford to build theaters.

Actually, Gerding's dead. His name's left on there so that the sainthood will rub off on Edlen.

I suspect we can assume somewhere there's an intention to tax-subsize it permanently so that it has the appearance of being a success even when it isn't.

Like the neverending Convention Center project, if it made any economic sense a private developer would do it...

"guys like Gerding-Edlen"

Sorry, I meant the company not the individuals.

Don't forget that theater also has some tschotske dedicated to Vera - The patron saint of giveaways.

Which might be part of the problem, we buiold statues and dedicate buildings to people who give away money.

As vile as this whole waste of money is, the truly outrageous thing here is billb's statement that Susan Sarandon looks good. *shudder*

How can this building pay back the taxpayers $6,700,000 TIF dollars when only 1 out of 5 listed potential renters are private?

And there are even more potential lessees that are non-profits that pay no property taxes. In fact, who is the owner of this building? PSU, who pays no property taxes to pay off the TIF dollar debt.

This kind of disregard of how debt is paid off is exactly what is happening in SoWhat. Less than 1/2 of the properties in SoWhat are taxpaying entities. That is why Durbin and Sustainable Susan can go on their MaryWay of thinking-economics has nothing to do with this project.

I'm tired of paying for others' follies.

I guess this building will disprove Einstein's theory. Our first zero net energy building. A perpetual motion building using no energy. Impossible.

Jim Karlock -

These folks are many things, but "...idiots..." is not one of them.

They do, after all, have $ 65 million of our dollars.

Look at your tax statement from early November and see how much you are paying every year for the PDC follies.

Sad to say Portlanders are getting what they wanted, or I should fail what they failed to put a stop to in two recall elections.

It's as if the sweat and misery of the people who built, lived in, and maintained this city for generations is being abused to turn it into a theme park that will eventually exclude them and is meant for someone else.

Some earlier century we'd be sharpening our pitchforks by now. Methinks we live in strange times.

Nonny Mouse Jim Karlock -
These folks are many things, but "...idiots..." is not one of them.
They do, after all, have $ 65 million of our dollars.
JK: Good point. How about clever schemers who have figured out how to steal tax money for idiot ideas that play into the latest popular delusion.

But I still maintain that Sustainable Susan is a true believer that gets suckered by the latest popular delusion. For instance, aside from buying AGW & sustainability hook line & sinker, when I asked how much money recycling saved, she gave a non-responsive answer - she knows it is costly.


Looks and sounds like a replay of the "Media Arts" Building all over again. You know - the current "home" of PDC - since noone else was dumb enough to locate there long term!

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