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I must say that I continue to be confused about this conversation about “bury our mistakes” – i.e. the I-5 corridor. I find this to be a limited vision approach to the problem. I would suggest that there are a myriad of other solutions available to address the issues associated with the raised corridor, not just a Portland Big Dig project. We have great thinkers here in PDX, why not use them on this front? And, to now include “bury the rail line” seems even more confusing. The price tag alone would be amazing. Again, I think there are other options here that could be thought through rather than a standard tag line “bury it”. What if we took a cue from Tucson, AZ? They have one of the busiest rail lines in the states running right next to/through their downtown. The newly revamped 4th Avenue underpass (with street car line) is quite successful. What if something like this happened here? Maybe at a couple key locations? Make these into urban events? The Central Eastside is a vital tool in the operation of Portland. Being a mixed-use urbanite I am the first one to wonder why the Central Eastside never developed into more of a residential mixed-use Left Bank or just about any other major river side city. That being said, have one conversation with any sitting member of the Central Eastside Industrial Council and you will know why this area must be maintained predominantly as an industrial enclave for our city.
Like you mention Brian, there is a definite catch-22 in play here. Whereas Portland, as a progressive urban pedestrian oriented city, has long embraced (1997) the ‘maximum parking requirements’, the fact is that not providing tenant parking, in most but not all cases, can push this discussion outside the boundaries of the project and into the surrounding environment. Burying our head in the sand and overlooking this fact is dangerous. That isn’t to say that not providing parking is not an option, but strategically understanding the trends of tenants and users on a case by case basis is crucial to the success of the project. Lenders and investors have definitely opened their eyes to non-parking inclusive project financing and thus opened up development that does not include this amenity. Though, I would suggest that one failed project, because of this non-inclusion, will close that door rapidly. It seems that one must be committed to a brand that caters to a bike based culture (such as EcoFlats or the Milano) as a great option for dense(r) urban living for those without cars and not needing those parking options. I would be suspect of a statement like “the more you build parking, the less likely it is to be a place where people want to go”. The Pearl district developed over a very short period of time with most, if not all, of the buildings having on-site, or direct access to, parking. I don’t see how this has limited peoples’ want to go there. One can only imagine what would have happened had there been no project based parking - First Thursday would be … interesting. Or, imagine what the environment around the Edge would be like without on-site REI parking. Comparing ourselves to a transit rich city such as Zurich seems to be a bit of a stretch to me. Portland must continue to develop its transit system to get up to the ideals of a non-vehicular based environment and then many of these discussions will become mute. As well, there is a bigger cultural discussion to be had here about the needs and functions of the car in our vehicular-based society. I don’t believe that projects such as this can resolve this discussion, but it is exciting to see that discussion happening through its instigation. In the meantime, we must also make sure the discussion does not limit itself to “do you have parking?”, but also address the many architectural and urban design questions associated with the project’s contribution to the surrounding built environment. It reminds me of the many design commission discussions I have seen over the years that spend mounds of time on bike parking requirements and ignore the fact that the project being discussed contributed nothing to the urban, pedestrian environment.
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Aug 16, 2012