Local news media are in an uproar today, after plans were announced by the Goodman family to develop 11 new buildings in a $1.5 billion dollar project for downtown Portland.
The Goodman family made a fortune in real estate and parking, much of which holds food cart pods. Now they want to leverage that property in anticipation of zoning changes that will allow developers to erect taller buildings. According to OregonLive, the changes will allow developers to increase height to give them more bang for the buck.
The Goodmans recently unveiled the proposal, which they call the “Ankeny Blocks,” in anticipation of zoning changes the city plans to make that would allow developers to build taller buildings downtown. Five of the Ankeny Blocks buildings could rise as high as 460 feet, which would rank them among the tallest in the city. (The KOIN Center, by comparison, is 509 feet and 35 stories tall. The PacWest Center is 418 feet and 29 floors.) Other new buildings would climb to 325 feet, 250 feet and 130 feet, respectively.
The Goodmans are also planning to add a tower at SW Fourth Ave and Harrison St.
If these plans come to fruition, and we are talking about a big if here, as tremendous amounts of money and city permits will be involved not to mention the amount of tenants it will take to fill these buildings, the new construction will displace food cart pods at SW 2nd and Stark, and SW 5th and Stark streets. According to Brett at Food Carts Portland, this could result in the demise of “1/2 of the food cart pods in downtown Portland”. That’s a rather ambiguous total, and I’m not sure how many of the current crop we really need, but I’ll go with it.
So here’s my opinion, and many of you aren’t going to like it. Yes, the food carts are great, and they help bring tourists to Portland as well as provide a great place for downtown workers to lunch at reasonable prices. They are one of the few remaining memories of what Portland was like when I started this website in 2004. But looking at it from the point of view of the Goodmans, how could they not want to do this? Do we really think the city planners are going to turn down the income these new buildings will generate? How about all the jobs related to the design and construction, let alone taxes created from the businesses that will be included. Yes, it would be wonderful to keep things the way they are – I love the food carts. But we have to be realistic here and realize that no matter how much we moan and groan the city is changing. In my opinion, it is silly to think that a few food carts are going to stop a major downtown redevelopment. The Goodmans have every right to their ambitious plans, and unfortunately the city council will pander to them. It’s not fair for us to prevent them from developing just because they were kind enough to provide spaces for carts in the past. Heck, without their cooperation, I’m not sure we’d have any carts in downtown. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t work with them and the city to provide different solutions to accommodate the carts. Better minds than mine can figure out ways to work them into building architecture, lot plans, rights of way, etc.
Let’s face it. For long time residents, Portland is not the quirky city we once loved. Much of it feels soulless; etiolated concrete towers fighting for air. We let this happen by not ensuring that growth and planning take place in a more responsible manner. Now we have to deal with the seeds we have sown, feeble as they may be.
I love Portland, and still think it is a wonderful city, but I think we all know that this isn’t the city of twenty years ago. We can embrace it and fight to keep city leaders and developers responsible to the future, or like me, you can have your sights set on another city that may better fill your needs.
With such great press the last 10 years it was bound to change the city. Can the downtown absorb the buildings and foot traffic-hope they’re planning for increased parking!
Rumor is the ‘Pearl’ is building several high rise buildings and two hotels within 3 blocks of each other. The Goodmans have parking areas throughout NW and SW-snowbirds who aren’t impacted. No more getting a quick cup of coffee, Hot lips pizza or short notice restaurant reservations anywhere in the city.
Portland is growing up, with all the angst of a teenager…….. it’s been a fun ride.
Sid Snider says
I never thought I’d say this but another city sounds appealing. I’m tired of hearing myself talk about the prices, traffic and real estate developments here. Which cities are you considering?
PDX Food Dude says
I definitely want a smaller town; don’t need a big city at this point in my life. Don’t want to go south, so am thinking about places such as Bend, Walla Walla, Spokane, Boise… problem is I haven’t spent much time in any of them for quite a while, so a road trip is in order over the summer. I want outdoors, quieter life.
Adele S says
Ironic that the benefits that attract people to move to Portland are being destroyed because of the people who move to Portland.
A.R. Jones says
I agree with this article and feel the same as Sid. I also never thought I’d say this but between all the things mentioned, plus a 9.0 earthquake threat, I/we too are planning to move. We’re still not quite sure where but right now, Bend is top of the list. A friend of a friend recently moved there, loves it and commented it’s like Portland was 20 years ago. That sounds perfect. One of our criteria for a town is to have a college – for both cultural and academic opportunities. We were considering Walla Walla, WA but Hanford is a little too close for our comfort level. It’s also pretty remote. Bellingham, WA and Corvallis are wonderful towns but then there’s that ugly earthquake threat so getting over the mountains seems prudent. If others are planning to move, I’d love to know what places you’re considering….
PDX Food Dude says
Of course Bend has an earthquake threat too, albeit a smaller one.
A. R. Jones says
True, true, but judging by earthquake map zones, I think it’d be a shake I’d be willing to ride out, especially considering the fact that it would be MUCH less likely you’d be on a bridge or anywhere near a tall brick building! Walla Walla has it’s own earthquake faults and is prone to liquefaction:
And then there’s this article:
Darn, WW was sounding great….We had even planned a trip but not sure now….. April will definitely bring a trip to Bend though.
Have you thought of Montana? Whitefish Kalispell Bozeman?
A. R. Jones says
I’ve never been to Montana. I like to be within driving distance to the ocean however I’m trying to open my horizons so I’ll look into it. I simply want a relatively safe, affordable, beautiful place to live the last segment of my life, A medium size town would be good with some culturally redeeming qualities. Oh yes, and a great farmers market and good restaurants! Thanks for your tip. If you’d ever like to discuss this at length, please email me. My husband and I have been making road trips trying to look at various towns with a different color lens on our glasses, as places to live rather than simply visit.
Well, I suppose we could whine about this and make ourselves out to be victims, OR we could pressure the politicians and developers to respond and jointly come up with solutions. Personally, I would like to see Singapore-style hawker centres built and integrated into the new buildings or parking structures.
PDX Food Dude says
That’s the type of thinking I’m talking about. Integration. Of course that is tremendously expensive, and the property owners would never make their money back, but it could be done via regulation
Like a good haircut we are posed to grow well. Portland is destined to become a real city and while some aspects of growth are sad and nostalgia inducing, it’s also fascinating and very exciting. NYC and London once were medium
sized towns too. Change is hard and emotional and nuanced… but stagnation isn’t healthy. Portland is going to be a very dense, vertical walkable cultural center, a unique great urban experience. A bunch of new people and new tall building won’t ruin it. Along with all these new buildings we also have so many trees that keep getting taller. Excited to continue to witness it!
Where does it say this WILL happen? And even if it did, where does it say WHEN? This is just The O taking out an ad for one of its best friends. There’s no money lined up. No developers. Just some zoning changes that would potentially allow the Goodmans to lease the land if they can find buyers, developers, tenants, etc. The number of folks around the internet who seem to be getting their panties in a twist about this complete non-story is ridiculous.
Change is inevitable, that’s clear. But, thing I always wonder is—-where is the money coming from? It’s not like there are tons of large companies, or small ones, really, being established in the city—or am I just stupid? Or is it all trust fund money, wealthy retirees, and tourist money? I don’t get it. Portland is not SF, Seattle, or Boston, so how is this happening?
Ah, the Goodmans kindness to let the carts exist…the single parking space each cart uses generates triple the annual income in monthly rent. And that’s IF that space was rented by a car parking customer every single day for the max hours. Plus most cart owners also park a least 1 vehicle in same lot daily.
So, they have been tripling their profits at every parking stall a food cart is in for years.
Laurie Sonnenfeld says
I am most discomfited by the large buildings starting to line the east bank of the river. Part of the joy of living on the inner east side was being able to see the beautiful green west hills and some of downtown. Now they are blocked by huge buildings. Driving down MLK now it is starting to look like you are in any city usa since you can’t see the geography around you.
The idea was to recreate the Vancouver BC waterfront in Portland’s south waterfront. Having been there I’m not sure that will happen in our lifetime. There are petty of things to enjoy about Portland, maybe some of us are ‘aging out’ and looking for more peaceful environs. That most likely comes at the cost of good food, culture, and an ‘international’ airport. Also when the economy takes a downturn smaller areas are hit harder.
About the earthquake factor and Bend, much like Mammoth Lakes, a geothermal time bomb.
An engineer once told me you couldn’t give him property in either places after doing studies there (of course that was 15 years ago). Nirvana is just a word.