You’d think in the first couple days after the Portland Development Commission’s Burnside Bridgehead selection of Opus Northwest, that project would dominate our minds. But a front-page Oregonian story brings news of many newly developable downtown land parcels that could actually dwarf Burnside Bridgehead or even the Brewery Blocks in scale and importance.
The Goodman family has for decades owned a wide range of surface parking lots that are, while useful and profitable, a real blight upon downtown Portland. A city like ours seeking high density shouldn't waste precious real estate when the same amount of parking spaces could be placed underground with buildings on top of them.
Finally, though, the Goodmans are looking to develop their land.
Although the family's insistence on retaining ownership of their lots could make negotiations more complex, the land awaiting development is incredibly enticing. Five different blocks sit right on the downtown MAX line. Countless others are within just a few blocks. There are 26 properties totaling about 520,000 square feet or about 13 city blocks. Thirteen blocks!
Before developers begin working with the Goodmans, we must encourage the family to make sure buildings on their land get built the right way: designed by talented design firms, even if they ultimately are paired with larger service-oriented firms to work out the details. And sustainable, definitely sustainable—although merely being green is not enough.
One of the few Goodman properties that has previously been developed is the block between Second, Third, Morrison and Alder (or is it Washington? I can never remember) where the ODS tower now sits. With all due respect to Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, it is not an exceptionally attractive building. I really hope whatever buildings rise on the incredible array of Goodman-owned land parcels will be a lot better.
But for now, this is a great moment for Portland. The city needs the Goodmans’ land for more than parking automobiles. And regardless of their motivation presumably being more financial gain than civic good, a heartfelt thanks still should go to the family for moving forward.