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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 10, 2011 4:59 PM. The previous post in this blog was Japan cans nuke plans. The next post in this blog is Use your imagination . Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

History? Who cares?

The apartment mongers in Portland sure don't.

Comments (15)

Hey, but demolition and construction creates jobs and that's good, right?

I expect we'll be hearing more and more of that. The crash couldn't have come at a better time.

A casual observer will note that the building is ugly. And they are partially correct. It is my understanding that the building has had a mosaic of construction done on it over the years that were not architecturally accurate to its accurate time period.

Could it be restored to something closer to its original look? Of course it could. But particle board junk apartments will maker a lot more money for the "custom home" people. So screw the neighbors.

And screw the economic viability of the neighborhood. People come here because of its charm as a historic district. While they're here, they spend money at shops and restaurants. Each old house that goes down dilutes that charm, but what do the developers care if they spoil it for everyone else? They're getting theirs.

This is the same guy that did the place on 16th & Hancock if you want a glimpse of the future.

The tease (referenced on the linked DJC page) for a piece I am not permitted to read merits, perhaps, some discussion:

"The Portland-metropolitan area currently boasts the lowest apartment vacancy rate of any metropolitan statistical area in the entire nation. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau, the Portland-Beaverton-Vancouver, Wash., MSA apartment vacancy rate fell to 4 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2011."
http://djcoregon.com/news/2011/05/05/portland-area-has-nation’s-lowest-apartment-vacancy-rate/

4% is a very low vacancy rate. Boston, and especially Cambridge, for example, used to have notoriously low vacancy rates; yet the Census Bureau lists the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area as having a 4.6% apartment vacancy rate, up from 3.6% a year ago.
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/rates/index.html

The pressure for apartments would seem to have some reality. But I have not been successful in summoning "Table 5. Homeowner Vacancy Rates" so I can provide no support to anecdotal speculation that this area's high home foreclosure rate has created an unusual competition for available rentals, an aberration that will resolve itself with a rejuvenated local economy. If that is the case, then at some future moment, there will be a glut of apartment rentals.

(It should be noted that the teased DJC piece asserts that Portland's apartment vacancy rate is "the lowest apartment vacancy rate of any metropolitan statistical area in the entire nation," but the Census Bureau limits its survey to "the 75 largest metropolitan statistical areas.")

To comply with the existing code, the building would need to be much smaller, the designer said.

The designer should comply with the code or build somewhere else.

It is time the city codes mean something to city hall and that the livability of the neighbors and neighborhoods mean something to city hall.

I used to live in that house, back in the day.

Beautiful, nicely kept, big single rooms … upstairs shared this single huge bathroom, you never had to wait to get in. Everyone was very considerate, very nice. The single rooms were large, as I said, and had a little nook-y kitchenette in them. Rent was $150/month.

I was trying to explore my dreams of getting hired somewhere to draw maps.

Those were some good times.

Maybe it's back to the future for the Alphabet District. I lived there in the mid to late 70s when it was cheap enough and funky as all get out. But back then no one had rehabbed all those old homes (Victorians and newer), fixed up the old apt. buildings, and the stores were not tony and the restaurants were not yupscale. If this stands, property values will erode.

Carol Wells above has it right though. The very character that brings people here in the first place is being demolished and replaced with cold Lego buildings because some big plan says a million people are arriving any day.

No one is mentioning that a big reason there is a shortage of apartments is because many were "converted" over the past 10 years and resold as "condos", even crappy 1970's apartments.

Hey Jack, did you notice that the first commenter in the linked DJC article is none other than Brian Owendoff, the guy outed by the NW Examiner postine under various aliases?

I'm all for densification and building of apartments in this area.

Just use the many open surface parking lots dotted around NW.

On site parking can look good if done right.

I worked with a developer on a NW Alphabet street about a block away from this site. The lot size was exactly the same. We were able to design a three story building with 18 units and 18 below grade parking spots underneath. They were two and one bedroom units. We met every code/zoning requirement, even the required sideyard and backyard setbacks that respected the neighbors.

We began the Historical review with the city. After two staff reviews with feedback we did an analysis of how much time/cost all the reviews, permitting, probable time delays, and the uncertainty of passing design/historical review might cost. We projected over 1 1/2 years to begin construction with the laborious process of CoP reviews.

This process began just before the economic downturn in mid 2007. We all sensed that the robust times were coming to an end and all the time delays would seriously make the project unfeasible. We pulled the plug, and rightfully so. The modest, rundown home still sits there.

Most older housing will be replaced sooner or later.

Most building owners do not have the time and resources to continuously maintain, restore, or improve their properties. Whether it is commercial or residential property, owners are limited by simple market eonomics to not overspend on their property.

All buildings need more work the older they get. Only a few by virtue of their location will be deemed worthy of putting large sums of money into. In this way gentrification helps retain the older structures for future use. Sorry, but some houses (and commercial structures) just aren't worth saving.

Before anyone gets the idea that we need more regulation to keep structures in play and keep rents affordable, these things will kill the incentive to get into property ownership at all.

From the description, the highest and best use for this lot is as multifamily housing or perhaps a parking garage for all the rentals nearby. "Apartment mongers" can only respond to demand to make their businesses viable.

That building is old enough that it should have been protected by a historic designation long ago. Then the apartment weasels would have left it alone.


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