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Comment Archives: stories: Feature: News

Re: “We Built This City

The pessimism is refreshing. Can we stop being so concerned for our "green" reputation and, you know, at least accomplish a full school year for Portland children? The limousine liberals coming to this city, the same ones SoWhat was designed to attract, are driving this city into the ground. Let's call a duck a duck, this is Neo-Liberal policy, the same bs we've been swallowing for years. The same policies kicking the homeless off the sidewalks rather than investing in social services. We're promised that if we keep kicking money and favors to big developers and gentrifying, the money will come. But there's no trickle down here; the big windfall of tax revenue generated from investing in the wealthy is never coming. You may have heard -- the same class generating this nonsense policy has robbed us all blind a little too often, and now no one has the income to buy their condos.

Posted by Ovidius on 05/05/2010 at 10:24 AM

Re: “We Built This City

OK friends, initially when asked my opinion on this article I leaned in favor of the subject line. Admittedly I have yet to finish reading this article, however I wonder if we would be better off if such pessimism wasn't the headline of one of our leading local publications. Merc is a rep for OUR great NW and as I see it, we want to improve upon and continue to be leaders in the green movement. Discouragement and negativity go so much further than optimism unfortunately. I don't say this to bash any of US all. I just want to say we actually do have a reputation to uphold. We are known as a kind, supportive, progressive state so lets live up to it! I'm a broke ass fool and all good things come with time and initially a price, eventually it will be the norm. Lets make a good impression fellow Oregonians!

Posted by yoyoyo on 05/05/2010 at 3:10 AM

Re: “We Built This City

Of course its like a ghost town at 9 pm with shitty weather out, exactly like the rest of portland, people shut themselves indoors and have to go outside because they have to do the nescessities, like let the dogs poop. The place is sort of like a gated community, 24 hour security, and it gets quiet at night, very safe. The day time its filled with foot traffic, cars, and bikes. At lunchtime, the restaraunts and conveinence store has a huge amount of people from OHSU, construction workers and residents. It has definitely grown over the past year and its just going up. This place is diverse, with mixed incomes, from middle class to the most wealthy, students, doctors, retirees; people who need the place to be convenient. Its stopping gentrification by providing a new area, and letting a culture create itself, and not butt into other solidified communities; its a very proud community of people who love where they live and how they live. its getting more wealthy people to move to portland and spend their money here, its providing state of the art green buildings, its provided 2300 jobs, thats 2300 people who have money, it got me a job when the rest of portland wasn't providing anything. Its a pretty great place.

Its not a growing tumor on the SW end of portland sucking all the energy out of it, more like a tattoo slowly and painfully being needled in, but the final design is well worth it.

Posted by vgg on 05/04/2010 at 8:51 PM

Re: “We Built This City

Collins and Reymont: you're right, Katz-Sam, and Council didn't make Affordable Housing the premier part of SoWhat, but over 800 Affordable Housing units were promised. Not one built. And now the insiders of Portland wants to make "workforce housing" and "student housing" help meet the requirement. Nice, now a household making $58,000 will be eligible for tax subsidies and will be counted as "affordable housing". Many of us didn't know that over 50% of Portlanders were now "poor".

ZipitupL all three newspapers editorialized and embellished the absolute, unequivocal future success of SoWhat. Neighborhood Assn.s, individuals, urban planning experts testified in all the available forums that the Plan had "failure" written in many places. Not one environmental group questioned building on a flood plain/seismic zone, contested the 3 ft to 14 ft of fill throughout the site, the capping of toxic sites versus removal to mitigate contamination of the Willamette. Not one governmental agency like Metro, TriMet, Multnomah Co., PPS, Fire/Police and etc. contested the urban renewal dollars being sucked out from their pockets to provide basic services.

Jfeldingw: concerning a grocery store in SoWhat-several grocery companies have been approached by all property stakeholders in SoWhat (they know it would make their projects more viable). They all declined to invest because they determined their customers couldn't find their way into SoWhat and the amount of residents there doesn't justify the investment. Plus, their delivery trucks, etc. and the parking, service arrangements don't make it convenient to service a store. A fact. Plus a trolley down to Zupan on SW Macadam would severely cripple vehicle traffic which now has over 42,000 trip per day and SoWhat when built out is to increase traffic an additional 29,000 trips-total Gridlock even without a trolley creeping along at 7 mph on average. Macadam now has "F" level of services at three of its major intersections in the Johns Landing area. Macadam is a state highway serving all of Clackamas Co. besides SW Portland.

Poncho and Ladd: SoWhat has been in planning for over 15 years, the Plan was adopted in 1999 and construction began soon after. There are now 8 buildings in the 250ft to 325ft range and four more in the 6 story range plus-all since the adoption. SoWhat is not how to build a city, Cities take many decades, and more like centuries. Forced Cities like SoWhat is not the best planning.

What many people don't realize is that of all the over 30 public projects required to be built in in SoWhat , very few are started and only a couple are completed. Tram is completed. But streets, the three parks, greenway, pedestrian bridge over I-5, affordable housing, all the major transportation portals (3), etc. are only partial or not started. All projects finished or started have been over budget by 3 to 6 times.

Many parts of the 9 Amendments of the Plan's Agreement have not been met. There is only $7M on average tax dollars anticipated to be generated by the SoWhat URA in the next 5 years per the PDC budget documents. This will not even pay the debt service on the tax dollars taken from Portland's general fund and the bonds issued to pay for what has been built. How can the city pay the ultimate $289 Million of the maximum debt of SoWhat's URA with this small income?

What is also forgotten is all the other tax dollars designated to SoWhat besides the $289 M from the feds, state, grants, Metro, TriMet, etc. It is estimated, including the debt services, that over $1.1 BILLION of taxpayer money will be spent in SoWhat in the next 25 years. Do you think the citizens see the benefits of that?

Posted by lw on 05/04/2010 at 5:32 PM

Re: “We Built This City

In fairness to Smirk she wasn't around back when the Merc party line regarding shit like this was one giant schmoozefest with Amy Ruiz (nee Jenniges) leading the charge, harping on anybody who wouldn't obiediently swallow whatever Sam Adams, et al were trying to sell us on.
Although the South Waterfront may evolve over time into something useful (ain't holding my breath), there's a method behind much of this 'toxic' cynicism and it has a lot to do with how apologists for stuff like this, such as Ms. Ruiz, made a desperate stink about how we couldn't live without this shit without being doomed to a life of mediocrity.
Zipitup definitely gets my vote for comment of the week.

Posted by stukasoverpdx on 05/03/2010 at 10:15 PM

Re: “We Built This City

What a bunch of toxic cynicism. Give it a chance. Development barely started 5 years ago and it's already paying back all the bonds through increased tax revenue at a higher rate than anticipated. Some people have nothing better to do than complain.

Some sidewalks and streets aren't finished because they're going to be built by developers. I doubt "affordable" housing projects are going to generate enough revenue to pay for those street improvements. I'm sure someone would be complaining if the affordable housing went in first and there wasn't ANY sidewalks... Hell, my neighborhood still doesn't have sidewalks and some of the homes have been there 100 years! Maybe NE Portland is a failure too?

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jason Ladd on 05/03/2010 at 11:08 AM

Re: “We Built This City

poncho it has some buildings but it has no infrastructure. You may want to visit it one day so you don't make this same mistake more than once.

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Tony Columbo on 05/02/2010 at 2:59 PM

Re: “We Built This City

i didnt realize the south waterfront is the only place feeling the recession.

give the neighborhood time. how can you write off a neighborhood when its only existed for 3 years? it has the infrastructure which is most important and is required no matter what happens there. the neighborhood vision can easily be changed. every new building that opens and every new resident enhances the neighborhood and makes it more attractive to other prospective residents. you need a critical mass of residents to support the retail, without retail and amenities an urban neighborhood like sowa has little appeal.

rome wasnt built in a day

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by poncho on 05/01/2010 at 11:46 PM

Re: “We Built This City

How about Buffalo send Portland our ghost towns and you can us yours?

Posted by chris_hawley on 05/01/2010 at 2:38 PM

Re: “We Built This City

I live in Buffalo, New York, and came across this article on Planetizen. I thought Buffalo had it bad seeing we've lost more than half our population and we can't keep up with all the neighborhoods we need to demolish.

Poor Portland. You "only" generated 2,300 jobs in your new downtown district when you originally planned 10,000. You built 1,400 green condos but none of them are affordable. The packed sushi place at the South Waterfront has had to offer half-priced sushi platters in this ghost town to attract customers. Oh, and the dogs! So many dogs! This kind of suffering is too much to bear. Should we pass around a hat in Buffalo and send you some spare change?

Posted by chris_hawley on 05/01/2010 at 2:30 PM

Re: “We Built This City

Want a grocery store in the neighborhood? Link the south waterfront with John's Landing with a local road (and maybe a streetcar, with existing track) and the residents can go to Zupans.

Posted by jfieldingw on 05/01/2010 at 11:41 AM

Re: “We Built This City

Considering this was the cover story this issue, funny that other than in the "most popular" sidebar, it has disappeared from the main page! Touchy, Humpy? Maybe smoke a bowl! Ha!

Posted by jake on 04/30/2010 at 6:21 PM

Re: “We Built This City

SMirk and the Merc, with Sam's tram they were smitten
on his lap did they purr, like a 4th Estate kitten.
And cash it did flow, south from City Hall coffers
Big biotech jobs, OHSU promised to offer.
Like water, cash flowed into Dike's financial dam
Homer, in Portland taxpayer money, he swam
And now SMirk and Merc feel as if they've been bitten
I say five years ago, this story they should have written
Its bigger by far than Sam's Beau Breedlove bathroom bedlams
The story of Sam's South Waterfront tram shams

Posted by dizzler on 04/30/2010 at 12:13 PM

Re: “We Built This City

Zipitup for comment of the week. Hell, comment of the year.

Posted by jake on 04/30/2010 at 11:40 AM

Re: “We Built This City

I'd sure rather work in biotech than in some neighborhood small business. And it seems like, if a neighborhood small business needs money from the city to operate, it's not sustainable and should be allowed to fail. Whereas a giant development plan like this could never happen anywhere without big amounts of city money. How much would another downtown core have grown the city? How many neighborhood small business have grown to serve all those employees and customers? We can sure say the plan hasn't turned out well, yet, but I can't complain about them trying it unless I knew a LOT more about it.

Posted by Reymont on 04/30/2010 at 9:10 AM

Re: “We Built This City

Thanks for posting that, zipitup. What a priceless quote.

Posted by Ovidius on 04/30/2010 at 8:53 AM

Re: “We Built This City

You forgot to mention that Multnomah County (Wheeler and Cogen included) issued tax free bonds on behalf of the Mirabella to build a retirement tower for the elite.

Posted by bruce123456 on 04/29/2010 at 10:38 PM

Re: “We Built This City

Yeah ghost town it right. It all looks so good on paper up until reality sets in. Like I have said many times "you need people with actual jobs to pay for all this hype in real estate development." You can build empty cities if no trade or commerce is not in place prior to development. Portland needs to invest in excellent education, including it's State Universities to attract competitive bright minds, and a business structure ( Capital Venture!) to start industry or attract it here! What a concept to have people earning money first then actually aquiring the high rise apartment and model living ( this means affluent) after. Just a thought.

Posted by jpen on 04/29/2010 at 10:35 PM

Re: “We Built This City

Ahhhh...spring is in the air, the flowers are blooming, it's times like this when I like to reflect back. I recall a time when The Mercury wasn't so critical on this subject, like this piece from back in January of 2007:…

Here's an excerpt:

"I envision a Portland where neighbors don't automatically launch letter-writing campaigns against mixed-use buildings, because they too have glided to the top of the hill, and now see the obvious—that a six-story building ain't no thing. I hope for a Portland where curmudgeonly old-timers—those who think the city reached its peak in 1972, when the Wells Fargo Center opened—sit back to listen to the newcomers, who have grand plans and big ideas for this place. And those big ideas, they realize, won't ruin the city.

Pearce, and the city officials who had a hand in building this tram, get it."

I rememeber writing Jennings quite a nasty note on that one. Maybe when your editor in chief takes a break from beating off to copies of HUMP clips someone can remind him that he's a hypocrite. Grow up and fuck off.

Posted by zipitup on 04/29/2010 at 6:29 PM

Re: “We Built This City

Kohler should be in jail. Under his direction, OHSU DID build the promised cuttling edge biotech development center with all its promised new jobs -- in FLORIDA! Any story about this scandal that doesn't include that fact is negligent.

Posted by cheesed on 04/29/2010 at 5:07 PM

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