The Detroit-ization continues
Oregonian architecture dandy Randy Gragg weighed in yesterday on two new projects about to slime their way through the Portland City Hall "planning" "process." These latest developments are -- hold onto your hats, I'm not sure you're ready for this, it's really breathtaking, can you believe your eyes and ears, yes, yes, it's...
More giant condo towers!
Oh, the imagination! Oh, the innovation! And as Gragg points out, it's about time:
With PGE Park across the street and dozens of early and mid-century apartment buildings nearby, this is one of the densest, liveliest areas of the city. Yet there are scarcely any condos available for purchase, little shopping beyond Walgreen's and Fred Meyer, and only a smattering of restaurants and bars.
Oh my God. A neighborhood without condos? The absolute horror of it. Thank heaven that the selfless developers are rushing in to fill that void. Randy and his fellow goatees worked it all out over Pimm's Cups at Clarklewis, and the fix is in:
[S]urrounded by nothing more precious than the poured-in-place concrete stadium and the car wash across the street, the project won't have neighborhood advocates carping about how the architecture needs to "fit" into some mythical notion of historical context.
Damn right, Randy. Those ridiculous "neighborhood advocates" who have invested decades of their lives and most of their savings in Portland neighborhoods -- they're such a nuisance. Carping about their "mythical notions" of what they moved to Portland for. Screw them. "[A] public agency and one of the city's most respected and talented development/architecture teams" -- that's who should say how people live around here.
You know, the people with kids have already left Portland. I guess it's time to drive out the rest of the people with real lives, too. Then the whole place can be populated by California retirees and black t-shirt types. The "creative class" -- of unemployed arts and design majors. Let's throw the "mythical notions" of Portland away so that Nicholas Cage's mother and Jason Priestly can own a condo here for five years or so. Well worth it.
Even worse than the usual noises from Gragg are the quotations from the source authorities on these behemoths in our fine city government:
The Design Commission has to approve the extra height [of a monstrous four-pack of condo towers on the west side of the Willamette River just north of the Broadway Bridge]. At an Aug. 19 "design advice request" in which developers and architects get early feedback, commissioners said they would happily consider an exception to the height -- but only for an exceptional set of buildings.
Commission member Jeff Stuhr called Pemcor's current proposal "a little Disneyland." Likening the scheme to Donald Trump's proposal for similarly repetitive towers on Manhattan's western shore, commissioner Francesca Gambetti pointed out the scheme would stretch 850 feet along Northwest Naito Parkway without a single access point to the river. Commission chairman Mike McCulloch argued that repeating "the same building four times in a row equals one big thing."
But echoing his colleagues, McCulloch added, "If something is really cool, we'll waive the regulations."
There you have it, Portlanders. If it's "really cool" to some people named Jeff Stuhr and Mike McCulloch, it's a done deal, even if it violates all the city rules -- the same city that forbids the average homeowner to even plant a turnip without an expensive permit. And you can bet that people like Neil and Lady Di Goldschmidt, Jim Francesconi, and Homer Williams have old Jeff and Mike on speed-dial.
Commenters, please let me have it this time. Tell me again how wrong I am -- how wonderful the Detroit-ization of Portland is. It's either four-packs of condo towers right on the riverbanks, or else we'll just have to have urban sprawl. There's no middle course.
Tell me again. Because so far, I think you're full of it.