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Saturday, July 7, 2012

K-Mart Village

The planners have a new dream for suburbia. It should be fun to watch, so long as you're not paying for it.

Comments (24)

“The community is working-class, 92 percent Latino, and relatively low-income.” Yeah, and after working in low paid hard labor agricultural or service based industries they sure want to come home and toil in a community garden and can vegetables. I would like to see some of the over educated planner types do some real physical labor and get their hands dirty instead of brainstorming goofy ideas.

It won't be Latino for long once it gets gentrified into a sustainable eco-village. Sometimes I wonder if "reclaiming" real estate isn't the real goal.

From the linked article: "...a retooled model based on production, designed around training, employing, housing, and feeding a local labor force in need of skills and opportunities....."


Arbeit wird euch frei machen.

Sounds just like a concentration camp.

And in other news, the mostly Latino community was dealt another blow today when the only stores in which they could afford to shop were torn down as an eco-czarist regime began big, big plans...

(music heard under this announcement, the former state-theme of the USSR)

Lets see, food processing (subsidized) from the community (slave) garden; renewable (subsidized) energy that’s forever being renewed; Ag R&D (subsidized) and green job training (subsidized) so the trained can hopefully find daily employment at the (subsidized) day labor station and tell their bosses what they have learned; and cracker box housing infill (subsidized) near a light rail staation where (subsidized) fares cover less then 25 percent of the operating costs when residents travel out of the area to shop for groceries not processed on site, for clothing, to attend schools they do not help pay taxes for and other basic needs. Such a deal, and guess who will be on the hook for all those massive ongoing subsidies and debt creation. Did anybody say the taxpayers!

Karlock is right...the only good planner is an unemployed planner...
What were those people smokin'? And who paid for the dope for the dopes?
And believe me, the hipsters and NOT gonna wanna live in Pico Rivera! Neither will the 'mostly low income Latios' when those rubes are finished with it.

And why the hell not? Got any better ideas for failed big box wastelands? Repurposing failed infrastructure does not mean Nazi/Marxist social engineering. Get a grip, already. This kind of thing is happening, inevitable, and for the better:

Got any better ideas for failed big box wastelands?

You ain't from around here, are ya, sonny? If you were, you might remember a little mixed-use village known as "Cascade Station".

Not sure what your point is, Max. Cascade Station, from what I've seen is a thriving retail development with a hotel and a new FBI headquarters.

Cascade Station was planned to be...well, NOT what it became and is today.

Planners actually thought people would choose to live underneath the flight path of an active runway of a busy international airport that is also used by Air Force fighter jets (F-15Cs) on a daily basis. And those Eagle pilots love to use their afterburners...I was once in the Target store there at the anti-big box Cascade Station and boy, it was LOUD inside that store when they took off. I wasn't sure if I was at Target or on the flight line.

Even today, much of the Cascade Station land is undeveloped and there are no plans to develop it, because there's no market to develop it. I guess they could stick low-income housing out fact I'm surprised they haven't. A golf course wouldn't be bad but there are already several golf courses near the airport - we certainly don't need another. They could put a community garden...oh, that isn't the "highest and best" use of the property.

So, the planners adapted, and got it right, apparently, at Cascade Station with a more appropriate use of the land. Parking lots are near full every time I'm there, in the middle of bad economic times, and there's more land available for when times get better. The FBI just finished its building, so there is 'some' demand, and a hotel is under construction if I'm not mistaken. I'm still not seeing any big downside, or how it's anti-big box. I thought it was a few big boxes, and then a mix of other square footages and uses.

You know, Cary's frenzied defense of Cascade Station reminds me of the constant excuses made in the old Soviet Union for repeated failed harvests and missed production quotas..

It's always entertaining when people take simple differences in perspective and blow them up into Hitlerian and Soviet style conspiracy theories. Richard J. Hofstadter is as relevant as ever. Still haven't heard what's so terrible about IKEA, which area consumers still flip over, and the other successful businesses in Cascade Station, other than a rigid ideological hatred of anything that flows out of a planning process.

Just to be clear, I'm no cheerleader for Portland planners. As Jack ably and amply covers here, they have generated more than their share of misguided, ideologically blind, and corrupt schemes. But it would just kill some of you to admit that sometimes they actually get some stuff right. No doubt someone has a theory on how much more economic activity the Pearl District would now be generating if the meddlers had just let the invisible hand do the guiding.

Planners and businesses both often fall in love with their analysis and schemes, and in the real world MOST of them go awry. There's plenty of screw ups to go around. Planning is overdone here. It's underdone in a lot of other places like Houston, which is a chaotic mass of 12 lane ring roads and random development. I can actually appreciate some of the charm of Houston, where you find a strip mall with Bengali and Vietnamese specialty stores cheek by jowl with steelyards. Some people like it that way, and that's fine. On balance, I like it here better. People with overwhelming disapproval of the way things are done here might take the advice of the Gipper, and vote with their feet.

Ok, I'm done here. I've given you plenty of ammo. Fire at will!

Still haven't heard what's so terrible about IKEA

What's so bad about WalMart? That they source product from China at the lowest possible cost, which requires manufacturers to ship manufacturing jobs to China to keep the costs low.

What's so bad about IKEA? They do the EXACT SAME THING.

The fact is that Cascade Station was planned to be a mixed-use transit-oriented development. And to that it is a failure. The original plan for Cascade Station was specifically NOT to be big box developments.

When it was discovered that people didn't want to live underneath the flight path of a busy commercial/military airport, AND other possible tenants weren't too interested in it, then it was "develop it...somehow....ANYHOW." And what else could possibly go there?'s close to Washington state...they have sales tax we don't...ta da! BIG BOX RETAIL!

So it failed at its original intent. It is certainly a successful big box strip mall. No one doubts that. The problem is, Portland rails on and on over how bad those developments are. They are the king of suburbia...but in this case, it's smack in Portland city limits, surrounded by acres and acres of parking lots. True, it's got a token (or two, actually) light rail stations - two of the worst performing light rail stations in the entire network. The Target store is brilliantly designed - they COULD have positioned the main entrance to be right next to the light rail station, but instead it's at the opposite corner. The main Cascade Station MAX station is an expanse of nothing...and a far walk to anywhere. And south of the light rail line is nothing but grass. Lots, and lots of grass.

It certainly is a success out of a failure...but it is akin to zoning property for housing and putting a hazardous waste facility there. It might be a successful hazmat facility, but it was supposed to be housing. Or condos...that ended up being low-income apartment housing. Or a high-end office building, that turned out to be low-rent retail.

OK Cary, here goes.
When a planner screws up, there are no direct repercussions to the planner. He/she keeps his/her job and blames the failure on something other than bad planning - mainly failing to see the obvious or understanding human nature. And few ever learn from thier mistakes - they just try harder to make the impossible possible. The planner world does not respect real people, they only give lip service to "the public" that usually means someone else.

When a business person screws up, the business fails. There can be many excuses and reasons given, but the business is gone or damaged and the business person loses his/her investment and their job. They must give the public what they want, not what they think they should have. It's a much more honest and respectful relationship.

I think that 20 or more years ago planners were a different breed. Public servants were just that. Somewhere along the line they acquired a belief (probably in college) that they knew better than the masses what was best for us and they had to make the tough decisions for us all. Whether we liked it or not. And we don't. But there they are, all cozy in jobs where they take no responsibility for doing what the public doesn't want them to do- In fact I believe they enjoy it. The planners in my town, Lake Oswego, don't respect suburbs. And yet, here they are, working in a town that is clearly inhabited by people who chose to live in a suburb and who, for the most part, like it that way.

At this point, the planning profession seems to be doing more harm than good. I doubt if we would lose anything if there were no such thing as planners. And we just might win our future back. Sounds mighty tempting.

Hey Carry,
Cascade station was a total failure. For several years nothing happened there except the MAX trains stopping at the unused stations because TriMet was too stupid to figure out how to have them just go by the stations in the middle of nothing. (However somewhere along the line one MAX train picked up a coyote.)

It was ONLY AFTER THE PLANNERS COMPLETELY ABANDONED their original scheme, and went to conventional development, did Cascade Station succeed. To be clear: the planners completely gave up on smart growth, new urbanism, 20 minute neighborhoods and all that fascist planner crap. (BTW, planners really are fascists:

All it is missing is Walmart, but there is a pretty good one just across the river, and that Walmart has booze - even after 10pm. (Actually a few other big box stores are missing, but Costco & Home Depot are only a mile or two away.)

Honest planners find honest work in a real profession.


Erik H,

There never were plans to place housing at Cascade Station. The Port of Portland does a pretty good job at trying to keep housing away as far as possible from the airport, and that was the plan with Cascade Station.

However, it is true that Cascade Station turned into a big box mall. The original plan was for small shops, offices and hotels with a knock off of the park blocks in the middle. That plan failed miserably. The market for retail over there is from folks trying to escape from the sales tax in vancouver.

As Cary says, what we have out there today is actually pretty successful. The parking lots are packed. The hotels as doing well. Office building are starting to fill in. The MAX line is getting some decent use by visitors (ask a cabbie how much they hate it).

We can make fun of the original plan (it was way too utopia) but what ended up getting built in the end is working.

dave, first Cary argued that Cascade is successful, and from a planning standpoint. Then after critique of how what has been built was not what was planned he declares, "planners adapted".

If he'd been at some of the numerous backroom and open planning discussions concerning Cascade he'd know that Planners fought all the way to keep the anti-big box plan. The enormous political clout of the stakeholders feeding off the untapped potential of Cascade changed the course after a decade of fallow non-development. Not the Planners.

Cascade development is totally contrary to what the uber-Planners preach. They are against car oriented development-less than 5% of Cascade patrons use transit. They plan against big-box, and that is what happened. They plan for 24 hour neighborhoods and got just the opposite. They plan for bikes and very few bike it. They planned for a bioswale and they got it, because Cascade is in a flood plain. About everything they planned turned out the opposite. So how can you claim the "planners adapted"? They followed kicking, and still preach the same.

The MAX line is getting some decent use by visitors (ask a cabbie how much they hate it).

The MAX "line" is getting use, yes.

The MAX "stations" at Cascade Station and Mt. Hood Avenue are, repeat, among the worst performing (in other words, least used) MAX stations on the system.

Most of the Red Line ridership falls under:

1. Beaverton TC folks who don't want to get on a Blue Line train that originated in Hillsboro - the Red Line starts in Beaverton and there's a guaranteed seat.

2. Portland-PDX folks who don't want to pay $20 in cab fare.

3. Beaverton-Gateway folks who would have otherwise ridden a Blue Line train, but can ride a Red Line train too

4. Parkrose TC folks who don't want to ride the 12-Sandy bus, because it's twice as long, three times as crowded, and the riff-raff likes to ride the bus.

Note: Folks who shop at IKEA...don't take the train. It's cheaper to rent a "Zipcar" than to use IKEA's home delivery service.

And...last time I checked, "mixed-use" development absolutely included residential use.

Because otherwise, any office park would be deemed "mixed-use" because there is inevitably some form of retail there. Or, Lloyd Center (built back in the 1960s and a testament to auto-centric design, per planner-speak) would also qualify as "mixed-use" because office space was always included and is still the primary function of the 3rd floor, as well as the connected Lloyd Center Tower. Heck, most any ex-urban auto-dominated shopping mall would be deemed a "mixed-use development"...heck, Washington Square has more residential than Cascade Station (there is an apartment complex on the northwest corner whose access is solely via proprietary Washington Square roadways, and it is adjacent to office space).

Again...I will stand by that Cascade Station is a failure in its original concept. It IS a successful, sururban, auto-centric strip mall. It is NOT a successful mixed-use, transit-oriented development - which was the original plan for Cascade Station.

It's just like the folks who claim WES is a success...yet, it has YET to meet its original first-year ridership goal after three years, its construction cost is twice the original estimate, its operating cost is far, far higher than expected...about the only form of "success" it has achieved is the fact it is running. I guess Cascade Station is a "success" in that it was built...just not the way it was planned to be built.

As others here have pointed out -rather comprehensively - Dave and Cary are wrong.

For a decade, Cascade Station stood vacant precisely because it was planned and zoned strictly for mixed-use residential. As Jack has noted many times, that is retail on the ground floor, condo or apartments on the upper floors. Parking was to be minimal.

Sorry, Dave - The original plan was for small shops, offices and hotels with a knock off of the park blocks in the middle.

Wrong. It was planned as a "walkable, bikeable urban village". Even Homer couldn't make that pencil out.

As Jim notes, when the area was vacant, Tri-Met nonetheless stopped there, opened the train doors, then closed them again - a bizarre ritual that I personally observed on a number of occasions. And a coyote did avail itself of the accommodations during one such stop - I have a photo of him, curled up on a window seat in an otherwise empty car. It's a cute testament to bad planning.

After a decade of nothing, CoPo re-zoned the space to permit big-box stores with some 2,000 parking spaces, and IKEA and Best Buy promptly built there. Until they "anchored" the place there was no development whatsoever. And as lw correctly notes, planners fought valiantly against the re-zoning that led to commercial success.

Cascade Station is not the only local example of failed urban planner visions associated with light rail. Try Gresham Station, Rockwood Station, Beaverton Round, Beaverton Creek, Clackamas Town Center, and the entire Yellow Line if you want more evidence.

Certainly you can find new buildings along Portland light rai lines, but as far as the "retrofitting the suburbs" theme goes, forget it. Light rail is as relevant to the suburbs as a manual typewriter is to an office worker.

I look at the link and think of Russ Roberts saying that self sufficiency is the road to poverty. Someone is always going to be better than you at making something like the 100 mile suit. People are already eating out often to buy back more of their own time. Even the minimum wage janitor at work is eating out. If even low wage folks are eating out, why are they going to all of a sudden going do the back breaking work for themselves as pointed out above. This is utopian crap that is worthy of a PBS special like the play pump before it became a fiasco.


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