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Sunday, March 4, 2012

For Lloyd Center, the ultimate bunker

The guy who bought out Hank Ashforth's Lloyd District empire a while back says he's planning to spend $250 million of San Diego real estate money on four new apartment towers in the area. Judging from the artist's rendering, one would be about 30 stories tall.

The new complex would add 750 new apartments to Portland's inventory. No word yet on how much of a taxpayer subsidy the developer, Scott Langley, will be getting. But at a minimum, he'll receive the nifty handout that you get for building a a bunker near the pointless eastside streetcar, thus fulfilling the Blumenauer Prophecies.

The official City Hall line, dutifully regurgitated by the youngsters at the O, is that since apartment vacancies are way down, people are "craving" to live in apartments. Actually, people are craving to live in detached houses, but the city hardly allows anyone to build those any more. In a way, the city is setting itself up for failure, because no one with anything on the ball wants to move to Portland, Oregon to live in an apartment tower in a rough part of town. And that's exactly what this Lloyd plan is proposing.

Adams said the project would create 3,000 construction jobs. Langley said... it is currently in the design and entitlement phase.

Ah, the "entitlement phase" -- quite humorous. For the condo weasels in Portland, entitlement is not a phase, it's a lifelong career.

Comments (18)

Yes but, the attraction would be that living ten and more floors above the street pretty well eliminates the need for stray bullet barriers.

While the Weird City stagnates, places like Wilsonville and Hillsboro are seeing population growth. This comes despite their unenlightened approach: unlike Portland, they maintain their roads, they don't install traffic-calming potholes, they don't devote resources to bike-paths, trams, loot rail, or streetcars - all of which Portland insists are essential to sustainability, greenness, and general coolness.

Portland's "leaders" are convinced that a million more people will be moving into town Real Soon Now, drawn by the wonders of high-density condo towers, aggressive panhandling, and the diversity of gang activity associated with their loot rail lines. Thus far, the growth is all happening elsewhere.


Portland's growth has been about 1% a year for many years. There won't be a million people, total, in the city for many decades.

People want to live in apartments in Portland, too...only in places like NW and N Williams. Why would anyone want to line in the Lloyd district? Easy acess to the fast food chains? Ah well, better than the parking lot wasteland it is now, I suppose.

Portland is the developers dream come true..

Let's see, apartment rates are high at the moment because of a tight rental market, which is tight because because potential homeowners are sitting it out and not committing to a plummeting real estate market.

If history offers a lesson here, it would be that these towers will be completed just about the time the real estate market starts to turn around and renters make their move to purchase at the bottom, thereby cranking up the apartment vacancy rate. Leaving investors in these dinosaurs - which would include the taxpayers, of course - holding the bag.

Apartments today = condos tomorrow, and vice versa.

Dense bunkers today = ghettos tomorrow.

Hey Jack - is "entitlement phase" the new planner term for public-private partnerships? It used to be that they would find euphemisms that are more acceptable to the masses, but the process must be so common now that there is no reason to make it sound any better than it is. When will they start calling it crony capitalism, social engineering, theft, or even Blumenauering?

It'd be really interesting to see Bojack's opinion of some of the GOOD housing development in Portland in recent years. Especially apartments. There must be some good apartment development. I can't think of any myself (but that's why I like this blog. Lots of info on development I'd never know otherwise).

-Also I agree w. J Rettig. Bubble-time for apartment construction - except I'd add that it's not just homeowners sitting it out. There are a large number of vacant homes vs history. SO if/when those come back on the market (either as rentals or are sold), that's a big bubble popper.

What ever happened to a business person spending their own money on the prospect of making more money?

If all these development projects were good ideas, then the public coffers should NEVER be raided for private profit.

Our political class have become nothing more than salespersons pitching for the cons sucking off the public tit.

I liked living in the Lloyd District a few years ago now (some dozen blocks east of this proposed development). Great access to public transportation. Great walks into town over the Broadway or Burnside bridges. Amenities at hand. And it was free of the cockroaches that had invaded the close-in northwest.

I say it has potential -- that should all be developed with private funds.

Max, have you seen "The Pruitt-Igoe Myth?" Pretty interesting, even if it is a revisionist history attempting to defend the "towers in the park" style of 20th century building. Though Cabrini-Green was a problem because it was low income housing. I see no sign that this Lloyd district superblock will have any low income housing within it, so it might work. At least the Lloyd District makes sense as a place to put high density towers, certainly more so than South Waterfront. So much sense it shouldn't require any public funds, of course.

Andrew--Doesn't public funding demand some sort of subsidized housing units set asides?

Teresa, yes and no.

Depends on the various subsidies a developer goes for. Much of them ridiculous, as documented many times here. For instance the apartments going up in my neighborhood on N Williams include a portion of income restricted apartments for an extra tax credit. One thing that "Transit Oriented Developments" can get away with is not having any parking minimums. Haven't seen enough details about parking from this development yet. Also, developers can always promise to put up subsidized housing sometime in the indefinite future as happened in South Waterfront.

If you surround some low income housing with a bunch of middle class or higher people it seems to work ok. In Vancouver's high rises the low income apartments exist within the towers, and each resident have keys for the elevators that unlock only some floors. (fwiw I think that style of glass hi-rise towers is kinda ugly and am not a fan of South Waterfront)

There's no way any of these apartments are going to be truly affordable. The article mentions that the going rate for a 1-bedroom in the Lloyd area is over $900 a month and the developers say that the project must "pencil out." So the apartments will be pretty tough for pensioners, the low-income or any family of more than 2 members to consider them.

Andrew, you mentioned the promise of subsidized housing in SoWhat. Several of the 9 Agreements required such for the future. But little of those have been built.

Homer, Edlen were the major "partners" in foisting the requirements into the future but reaping the benefits now.

Even OHSU was required to build a large parking garage on the two joint blocks they own, right southwest of their new Health Club building, with a low-income housing tower on top. OHSU was even compensated for the air-rights for the tower from TIF dollars. The Agreement has been broken. Where's the enforcement?

Lee beat me to it: given the enforcement that seems not to prevail here on any project, be it requirements for low-income housing or paying to ride the "train", depending on agreements doesn't seem particularly realistic.

Andrew: I lived on Tillamook, just a couple doors down from Williams, back in the early 1970's. Walked all over that place, even late at night, up to Lloyd Center and everywhere around. Never a problem, back then.

It's a lot scarier area now, and I'm not sure the towers would do much to improve the situation. On the other hand, if a developer thinks he can make it work, then great. Just, as you say, not with public funds.

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