Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Press Herald (“Our View: Planning Board made right call on ‘midtown,’ ” Jan. 18) asks critics of midtown to “work with the developer.” For more than a year, at Planning Board workshops and directly with the developer we’ve tried to do just that.
But the city and developer have seen little need to change this proposed mega-development until a sustained campaign of public opposition was ignited. Even then, the concessions have been few and derisory: On building massing and heights, a sum total of 2 feet was lopped off the side of one seven-story parking garage.
To see the mass and impact of midtown – images you won’t see in the pages of the Press Herald – visit www.KeepPortlandLivable.com.
The Press Herald also asks us to accept that building “market-rate” apartments too expensive for average working Portlanders will somehow ease their housing plight. Rather than touting failed Reagan-era “trickle-down” economics, why did city officials – who owned the land and wrote the midtown contract – not insist on a single affordable housing unit in a complex of 750 apartments?
It’s not the fault of midtown’s critics that Portland is seen as a “difficult place” by developers. Since the Bayside Vision was adopted, the city has done little to make it possible, neither extending streets, putting small lots up for bid nor directing the resources and incentives to a diversity of developers that it’s now lavishing on a single mega-developer.
Big-box development is not what has vaulted Portland to the Top 10 Best Small Cities lists. Why do City Hall and our biggest newspaper lack the motivation and confidence that befits this ranking?
In the 10 years we’ll be subsidizing and regretting a decision to build midtown, we could be building a real community like Portland’s other neighborhoods – one that’s encoded in the city’s comprehensive plan and Bayside’s land use ordinances.
co-founder, Keep Portland Livable