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billb

This is weak classic 'L.A' soulless cookie-cutter design. This Tower in the Park idea was discredited long ago , and as one who enjoyed many of Thom's famous history of architecture lectures at the U of O , I am deeply saddened.

zilfondel

^ wtf are you on? Tower in the park? This is a full-block building with a smidgen of plaza. Ever been to Europe? Plazas abound, and offer a bit of open space for people to congregate and for activity to spill out of the buildings.

I challenge you to find buildings like this in LA: there are none. Except perhaps a few being built by our very own Gerding-Edlen.

pdx2m2

I agree about this may not be a place with jaw dropping architecture. I don't agree that this will be a successful urban space. I'm still seeeing it as new, slick and mostly lifeless...isolated from the communities around it, lacking in urban services and amenities, an enclave with little reason for anyone to visit or pass through (other than the occasional architect looking up)..I can't picture the street life being active for decades if ever. I also can't think of any successful examples of entirely new isolated communities that lead to active urban life....this feels way to much like a more green..crystal city or roslyn across the river from D.C.

Robert

I totally agree. The failure of "SoWat" will be that it is so isolated. They started in the middle of a flat dusty plane to try to distance themselves from the city and create their own brand or identity. They could have started closer to Riverplace or Macadam and fed off of existing urban activity(and infrastructure). But these condos are being sold as a lifestyle, the way you sell ipods and jettas. They are marketing to people who are either just speculating and flipping or people who are really too afraid of the real city and real urbanism to live closer and more connected to downtown.

Robert

I should probably add that I like the two newest towers (not the first two). "SoWat" will not fail due to poor architecture, but due to good urban architecture being so isolated from from the contect of the city. TVA and Hacker's buildings would work a lot better if they were in the city.

Brian Libby

I think you guys are judging the isolation factor way too soon. It's true there's a big gap between Riverplace, where downtown more or less ends, and South Waterfront. But eventually that gap will be filled by OHSU buildings and other condos.

Also, when people talk about it being a lifeless crystal city, it's coming before most of the people or businesses have even moved in yet. Give this place a couple years and there will be the same urban vitality here as at the Brewery Blocks. It's true it was easier there, attaching to Powell's and the urban fabric. But over time this place will feel full of life.

Also, I encourage all of you to physically go down there at some point and check SoWa out in person. It feels different when you're down there: incomplete, of course, but a place with potential.

kalliope

I agree with Brian, a visit to SoWa, even in these earliest phases, feels very much like a part of Portland. Even though Riverplace maybe geographically closer to the city center, it is an enclave of tourist "attractions", poor restaurants, run-down and packed with visitors. A strip mall on prime city property, a pity really. Riverplace has never felt part of Portland, no community, no neighborhood. The Strand is nice, but not enough to make it a true neighborhood. SoWa is a community and a neighborhood in the making. It extends the city of Portland, it is not too far away as some have stated. Thriving neighborhoods are what make up most great cities, and I too believe that in time SoWa will be just that.

Aneeda

This place has been brilliantly marketed. Check out the showroom at the south end of the district when you pay a visit. You are buying into an experience if you believe all the brochures.

I think in ten years this district will feel like - yes - a sanitized version of the Pearl District, if that's possible. But it's dense, linked to public transportation and the greenway and I think that's what Portland needs right now. This kind of growth will go a long way toward strengthening the art and culture institutions that so many feel are lacking in Portland.

And yeah, the architecture is pretty mediocre even by Portland standards, which is a shame.

Robert

The marketing tactics may be brilliant(and I was at a presentation by Ziba about just that), but these are not being sold to people who want to live in a bustling urban area. SoWat can not yet compete with the Pearl and other parts of Portland for that and Ziba knows it.
These are being marketed as basically a vertical gated community without a yard to take care of; within proximity of culture, but without the things that scare suburbanites away from the city.
People will buy into the slick marketing, then realize they want a place to park their boat or RV, or that they don't like being that close to their neighbors, and move back to the suburbs. The marketing haze can only last so long until people have to deal with the reality of it. And I don't think the people they are marketing to are going to like that reality.

pdx2m2

I would like many of you to be right about this becoming a vital urban pedestrian community in a few years. I just don't think it will happen that soon.

Adding office and higher ed will help more than anything as it will bring diversity, daytime activity and jobs...and most important help support the retail that will ultimately be required to take this beyond a dense sleepy gated community.

homer williams said once that this would never be the pearl...the pearl...and the city is gritty and alive and a great place for young people and democrats...his sense of the market for south waterfront was well to do republicans who like the city clean, free from street people, quiet, sanitized...

as to the coming retail...talk with some major retail people or retail brokers and retail planners and they will point out how challenging it is to get and keep strong retail downtown and in the pearl...getting this kind of real retail activity in southwater front will probably happen...it just may take 10-20 years and at that I suspect it will fall short.

kalliope

The Pearl is the Pearl. Why would Portland need another? Every neighborhood and community should have it's own feel. But Republicans??? Please. Well-to-do Democrats maybe.

onsay

First, I need to express my frustration with our region-naming conventions. Can we please stop using the tired formula of combining the first two letters of the region's location and description? SoHo is in NYC. We don't need SOWa and SoBu and whatever one pops up next.

Now that that is out of the way I respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Libby. While it may be conceivable that the south waterfront contains the density to operate on its own, I am skeptical of the notion of outsiders (i.e. those of us who either cannot afford it or are unwilling to buy into an experiment) going out of their way to visit this neighborhood casually. Therefore, I think it is inaccurate to compare the south waterfront to the Brewery Blocks. Unless a retail or entertainment anchor appears in the south waterfront (is something like this in the works?) and travel to this area becomes MUCH less of a hassle than it is now (more than the simple addition of a streetcar route) the area will need to operate sustainably and without outside support.

While the dwellings are wonderful (I considered renting a 1br there), I have a sneaking suspicion that the south waterfront will operate more as a town center or, pardon the term, suburb than a Portland neighborhood.

Craig

Don't underestimate what the completed Willamette multiuse trail will do for this area. The path is already booming with riders and walkers on the east side. SWF completes the loop. I would compare this trail to Vancouver BC multiuse trail and the concord pacific development along false creek. The trail itself has become a tourist attraction. I say ignore the naysayers. The same people always complain about change. OGI and the trail will make a huge difference in the coming years.

Robert

SoHo, NoPo, SoLo, SoBu, SoWa... "SO WHAT!"

I think "SoWat" abreviates it nicely in a way that SoWa and SWF cannot. Single White Female? More like DINK or better yet SWMNK.

Robert

Sorry, I meant DWMNK

crow

it amazes me how much rant and negativity can snowball on this blog. i think all the naysayers need to step back and recognize that this is going to be a place stitched into the city. urban design as much as we like to rationalize it is as organic as a city itself. the retail will come, and there will be plenty of reason for everyone who DOES NOT LIVE down there to visit. try water taxis, try bike and walking paths, try outdoor movies, try markets, try new retail nowhere else in the city, try just a new modern take on the city. the people that came were not thinking about RV's,they were drawn by the lifestyle, or the notions of - they are the pioneers, and certainly they have some adjust, but i think it is incorrect to assimilate this so quickly to a gated community - of course privacy and security are uptmost, but that is handled at the front door - urban edges, activity, and urban vibrancy are part of the pitch. anyway - eat crow in the end - time will tell.

crow

it amazes me how much rant and negativity can snowball on this blog. i think all the naysayers need to step back and recognize that this is going to be a place stitched into the city. urban design as much as we like to rationalize it is as organic as a city itself. the retail will come, and there will be plenty of reason for everyone who DOES NOT LIVE down there to visit. try water taxis, try bike and walking paths, try outdoor movies, try markets, try new retail nowhere else in the city, try just a new modern take on the city. the people that came were not thinking about RV's,they were drawn by the lifestyle, or the notions of - they are the pioneers, and certainly they have some adjust, but i think it is incorrect to assimilate this so quickly to a gated community - of course privacy and security are uptmost, but that is handled at the front door - urban edges, activity, and urban vibrancy are part of the pitch. anyway - eat crow in the end - time will tell.

onsay

You know, I'd love it if the optimists' vision becomes reality. I truly would. The activities you believe will bring outsiders to the south waterfront sound great and I agree that a completed multi-use trail along the river will do a large part in vitalizing the neighborhood. I am simply skeptical that people will travel from the surrounding districts (Pearl, Goose Hollow, NW/23rd, Alberta, etc.) to this area. If there is indeed going to be a retail or entertainment anchor for the district, what is it? Sure I'll take a water taxi for novelty just like riding the new tram, but that novelty will wear off and then you need something a bit more stable and contextual to support this new, very interesting district.

Don't chalk up skepticism to simple negativity. I believe a lot of the concerns voiced here are valid and should not be ignored.

crow

interesting b/c cities are expansive, and albeit it seems an island today, it will be a cohesive fabric (at a metro scale) in the end. Vision is what i am implying - it is the ability to see the opportunities and to have learned from history, and by the history of urban planning of other cities, that corrective measures happen in a more organic manner rather than fall off like a dead limb on a tree. The novelty of the taxi and the tram to one may be a mode of transportation to another - the fact that one may use it to travel to another part of the city to me is a pretty exciting idea. To connect to the Rose Garden Arena, then maybe to South Waterfront for a drink on the lawn or maybe to the Eastbank for dinner? Who knows. I guess i am an optomist, but with reason it seems a better pursuit.

Dean

Hmmm...don't think it's reasonable to compare South Waterfront to the Pearl or anything else. It's definitely different. Does that make it bad? No. It is early in the District's development: the streetcar just started service, the two-block park remains a lawn, and there are no serious improvements yet to the greenway.

In five years or so, things should be different. Longer term, what will drive the success of the South Waterfront is something no one has mentioned: convenient access to health care. Not only the tram to OSHU's hill-top campus, but the Wellness Center, OHSU's new campus at the north end of the District, and assisted-care facilities such as Mirabella (to be built next to the John Ross). The retirement of baby-boomers over the next 15 years actually portends very well for South Waterfront.

Does that make South Waterfront good or bad? No, just different. Definitely an older demographic, but that's fine. Yes, the retail and park and greenway will need several years to emerge. But South Waterfront is a long-term play, and the posts on this blog are full of short-term judgments.

South Waterfront will never be like the Pearl, and it shouldn't be. It will be something else entirely. Keep in mind that the Tax Increment Funds generated in South Waterfront over the next decade (basically, increases in property taxes that MUST be spent in the District) will dwarf what was ever available for the Pearl District. As long as the PDC invests the money in infrastructure and amenities - and not bureaucracy - the South Waterfront has incredible potential.

As you can tell, I remain bullish on South Waterfront. Sure, the architecture is nothing to write home about, but a collection of background buildings is what Portland has always been about. These are different because they are higher and the District is denser. But I prefer background buildings to a collection of tall trophies trying to out-dazzle each other. For that, visit Shanghai...

ssschaffer

Speaking as one data point, I live in Goose Hollow and take walking trips through downtown, along Riverplace, and to South Waterfront with my family. To me and my family, SoWa seems like a continuation of downtown (although not yet connected nearly as well as it will be). And for those pointing out the lack of current retail space, that is not why we go. Sometimes it's just the journey rather than the destination. When they develop the waterfront trail from Riverplace and fill in space between with the OGI campus, the journey will just get that much better.

Psymonetta Isnoful

I work just north of the Ross Island bridge. So, the swaterfront is my daytime stomping ground. I also walk from work to either 1st and Harrison, or 3rd and Market daily, to catch the bus. (in lieu of taking the streetcar). It's not that far and will actually be a really pleasant walk once the sidewalks are completed and there's some interesting architecture and landscaping. It's also not very difficult, and I am no fitness guru. I get a strong sense of connection to downtown when I walk this route.

Likewise, the swaterfront is remarkably active during the day, even though it looks like a ghost town at street level. I rarely walk into the Daily Cafe or the Urbana market and find that I am the sole customer. Usually, it's quite the opposite; I'm queuing for a good 10 minutes to get something to eat.

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