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Monday, March 11, 2013

Hillsboro signs up for giant cr-apartment bomb

It's Instant Soviet Union for the suburb out west of Portlandia proper.

Comments (22)

Portland and other U.S. cities could learn a lot from urban planning and development in the Soviet Union.

Soviet (now Russian) large cities have remarkable elements of energy efficiency. For transportation, they have both heavy rail and subways extending to the "suburbs," usually in radial fashion. The Moscow subway extends about 20-25 km from the city center in all directions, with heavy commuter rail extending further. The "suburbs" are not spread out with single-family dwellings but are mostly large apartment buildings, each very close to a subway or heavy rail station. The vast majority of persons working in the city can use this public transportation, which is much faster than using cars and the roads. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, for example, large subway trains arrive and depart at city stations (themselves works of art), in both (or all) directions, at an interval of about 90 seconds. Only slightly slower are other major Russian and Belorussian cities. My last visit was in 1996. I never saw anyone run to catch a subway train, because the next one would be there in less than 2 minutes.

Added to the trains were surface streetcars and buses, making it possible to get to just about any block in the city in reasonable time. And hitch-hiking is commonplace and considered safe.

As for heating of buildings, most are connected to district heating systems. Excess heat from industries and power plants generates both hot water and steam, distributed to residential and commercial buildings in a vast system of large pipes.

There are problems and inefficiencies. In particular, apartment buildings are poorly constructed, with lots of cracks to let in the cold. For some reason, they did not maintain thermostats or other means to control the amount of steam running through the radiators, so sometimes the only way to avoid overheating an apartment or office was to open the windows to the bitter cold of winter. And often the controls that did exist were allowed to deteriorate until failure.

There was very little suburban sprawl. Large apartment buildings directly abutted the forest surrounding the city, which served as a de facto huge park.

Maybe some of this has changed since 1996.

Yeah, after all you need the forests and open space to bury all the bodies that communism was built on.

The interesting question is why Burgerville (Holland Group) is into real estate development now.

If you ask me, Portland is too much like Russia already.

1. : government by the few
2. : a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes; also : a group exercising such control
3. : an organization under oligarchic control

Right now what's left of the duma has ordered the apparatchiks to run light rail to the cossacks of Vancouver - even though the Politburo is many rubles short.

The agreement grants Holland major property tax breaks under a state program to encourage “vertical” residential projects as well as an initial discount on the system development fees it charges developers to mitigate impact on public infrastructure.

Why does the state give tax breaks to encourage "vertical" residential . . . . . ?
Those who comply with the agenda get tax breaks?

Good question clinamen. I'd really like to see the tax breaks (major or otherwise) for further apartment development (vertical or otherwise) stop. Weren't we just told that the apartment market was booming with high residency in Portland and outlying areas? Building apartments doesn't sound like a big risk at the moment and it would seem that it promises large rewards to developers and property owners. If they are going to enjoy the profits, let them take the risks like the rest of us.

How much sugar are we talking here? The article admits, "Financial and other details are a bit scarce." And TriMet is ponying up parking spaces.

I'll bet.

"Burgerville (Holland Group)"

AFAIK, they are not related. The president's last name is Holland, so it is epynomous.

In his defense, he is including plenty of parking and not taking up a lot of land since he is building vertically. In addition, I don't think he is razing existing houses.

confirming Steve: Holland Group runs some high end, quality apartment complexes around here...Frank Estate for one.

Portland and other U.S. cities could learn a lot from urban planning and development in the Soviet Union.

Ah yes, Moscow is rated 199th in terms of personal safety, but it's safe.   I understand Detroit has already followed Moscow's lead in terms of having plenty of green space in or near the urban core.  According to the St. Petersburg Times, "Using New York as a benchmark with an index of 100, Moscow gets just 55.5 points and is sandwiched between Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, and the Libyan port of Tripoli."  Sounds like utopia!

The Holland was a restaurant on Main in Vancouver, and they ran Burgerville (I think the company still does, though The Holland may be gone). Unless there's another Holland with deep pockets around here, it seems like this would be them.

Soviet Union cities were very safe. Russian cities, after the fall of communism, are not.

Huh. Five years ago, half of Portland was butthurt when I compared it to East Berlin. Who knew the developers would take that as inspiration?

As Portland becomes more like Moscow, I wonder who's going to end up standing on the tank.

"Unless there's another Holland with deep pockets around here"

I don't even know why it matters. If a private party wants to invest and talk others into investing in apartments, good for them putting their own money at risk.

That's a lot more than I can say about govt building housing or tossing Homer/Gerding big wet kisses.

Soviet Union cities were very safe. Russian cities, after the fall of communism, are not.

Perhaps you can elucidate. Which genocidal period of the Soviet Union are you referring to?

Soviet era housing, and to some extent, recent urban planning compare quite well to what is going on in Portland. Perhaps all centralized, authoritian governments eventually come to the same end - a dislike of the common man and a desire to corral them into dense masses to better control their behavior. I can't find any other good rationale for these bureaurocrats (planners) to want to involve themselves so thoroughly in our lives and tell us how to live. Our freedoms -especially property rights - are becoming a thing of the past. Here are some interesting facts about Soviet housing (1960s-1980s).
! The housing was called Khrushchyovkas, a derogatory term blending Kruschov with the Russian word for slums.
! The housing blocks were 5stories max. because they didn't want to put in elevators.
! The housing was considered "disposable" until Communism matured and they could be replaced with more dense high rises.
! Everyone was allotted an apartment by the number of people in their household. 1-br. = 323 sf., 2-br = 485 sf., 3- br. = 753 sf. In communal housing, each person was allowed 100 sf.
! The apartments had 2 rooms. The main room which had a 65sf. ktchen, and the bedroom.
! Soviets cranked out the cheap housing with the help of prefab components - concrete panels and even whole bathrooms. Bathrooms sometimes had combined facilities (no tub, just a drain in the floor) to save space.
! Today in St. Petersburg, citizens are trying to save historical buildings and open spaces in the dense city in spite of great pressure from developers and their friends in City Hall.
! In Russia's large cities, housing is so unaffordable that the poorly constructed, disposable housing, some with faulty heat and plumbing, are still in use and will be there indefinitely. This is especially true in smaller towns where development is slow to occur.
! The government owned all the housing in the cities until the 90s when it decided to sell apartment units to their occupants. I consider this their own special form of eminent domaine. Some person owned that land prior to the revolution, and some developer will be developing the choice plots with the government's blessing.
! From being a Communist state in the 80s until today, Moscow continually ranks among the top cities in the world for the most billionaires. It was no. 1 prior to the recession.

Does anyone else see any parallels?

Parallels with the Soviet Union have occurred to me as well, and I believe the planners big push to revision the city being for "young, active, singles" also has something to do with wanting a large naive populace ignorant of history under its control.

Isn't New Orenco* near WES? Isn't this just another subsidized housing project trying to fabricate more riders for the train?

*I say New Orenco because I recall the original Orenco "village" that was partly hidden in the stand of trees.

Orenco isn't near WES at all. I believe it's a good 7-8 stops away from where WES terminates in Beaverton. Condo dwellers in the Pearl are closer to WES than these residents will be. This development will be within a city block or two of the MAX Blue Line. One of the Park and Ride lots at the stop is being lost for these apartments.

Thank you for the correction. I had the two lines confused. My point remains the same.

One of the Park and Ride lots at the stop is being lost for these apartments.


Portland and other U.S. cities could learn a lot from urban planning and development in the Soviet Union.

Every once in a while the planning caste admits their true aims. I'm going to keep this comment for posterity.

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