« Thomas Hacker's Eliot Center | Main | Live From Salishan: It's the Oregon Design Conference! »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

mike conroy

what other materials are involved? the general shape seems rather boxy.

andrew

loads of potential.

randy, any chance that we'll see you and holst work together in northeast, maybe on mississippi or alberta?

Frank Dufay

Neighbors have fought the moving of an historic home on the site, and they seem to have the common high-density fears of traffic and tall buildings...

Not a fear of tall buildings, just where they're put. Towering over single-family residences does create a problem...for those folks who live next door.

The issue of the historic house is the opportunistic abuse of the zone change put in place precisely to keep the historic house on that site to put in this massive building on a corner of a busy street, where the applicant, Randy, begged off on providing even a code required loading zone, though plenty of parking for his high-end condos. All the while reaping reduced Transportation System Development Charges for being on a bus line. (Transit-Oriented Development, y'know?)

The neighborhood objection was to the destruction of an iconic and beautiful historic home, that reflected --now gone-- the last of these turn of the century (last century) homes in the neighborhood. Lost forever is a once special green space, and beautiful trees, in a neighborhood sorely park deficient.

A "piece of art" with "randomness" may have "a sense of presence" but what about having some context with the neigborhood in which this is placed, and the abutting buildings? This "Clinton" neither faces Clinton Street, nor Division St, to which it turns a blank wall of indifference, in place of the beautiful landmark that once proudly stood there and was considered the "gateway" to the neighborhood.

For the record, we offered to help Randy place this building elsewhere in the neighborhood, even across the street. His response was to destroy the site before our appeal was heard.


ozon

oversestimated understatement typical of PDX scene

Brian

While I do agree that this building is visually unpleasing at best, I have to disagree with Frank's comments. Looking at the site, any of the other three corners at the intersection are much more needing candidates of infill, however, the house on the site was saved, just moved offsite. As for the "beautiful trees", they were nothing more than big leaf maples nearing the end of their lifespan. Finally, there is a very nice little pocket park one block from this site. One element missing from the renderings is people. Perhaps it will be more architecturally successful than it appears to be in the renderings.

shannon

Dear Randy:

NE is ready! Alberta is ready!

We dream of beauty, utility and perhaps a moratorium on corrugated metal siding...

Sincerely,
sh

Frank Dufay

Looking at the site, any of the other three corners at the intersection are much more needing candidates of infill...

Exactly the point. Instead of tackling those corners, or the many, many places along Division Randy's project would have been welcomed, he took advantage of the spot zoning placed on that property ten years ago to save the historic structure, not put in retail and two dozen condos.

the house on the site was saved, just moved offsite.

Moving the house off Division robs it of its context. The carriage house that was with it was destroyed.

As for the "beautiful trees", they were nothing more than big leaf maples nearing the end of their lifespan.

Native big leaf maples can have a life span of 250-300 years if you don't cut them down. The largest maple was about 100 years old.

Design issues were less the concern of the neighborhood then the building's failure to orient itself to Division, a main street. Where we once had a 100 year old maple, and a beautiful old homestead, we'll have a wall to look at on Division. And, not to belabor the point, the small business community around Clinton did not want to see more retail put in with no discernable place for trucks to park. In addition, this is a busy street for children crossing to school.

None of which is to argue against creativity --or radicalism-- in architecture. But architecture isn't just pictures on paper, and attractive buildings, its also about community and utility, and respecting and working with the fabric of a neighborhood.

Randy Rapaport

Developing a new subdivision....think vertical, in a long-established neighborhood is bound to be difficult on some of its residents. There is no way that everyone will be pleased with the result.

Those who live close to a development site are most effected. That is part of the reason that I am really serious about the work. It is a difficult process for many.

I will not ever be able to convince those who believe that increasing density is inappropriate. It is easier to be critical than to step-up.

I know that Metro, the City of Portland, and many architects that I have contact with are in support of The Clinton Condominiums. We get so many phone calls for this 27 unit building that the we will llkely be sold-out by the time official condo docs are prepared, perhaps ten months befeore move-in.

I believe that we will raise the bencmark, again regarding design and quality. The effect of this on our city, which I love, is to raise expectations of everyone around real estate development. It may even inspire others to step-up and do good work. It can have a positive ripple effect...

Randy Rapaport


Val

No problem thinking vertically as The Clinton will amount to a vertical gated community from which those on the fourth floor can look down upon those less fortunate than themselves. Too bad for residents the large glass windows won't be rose colored.
In regards to the house being "saved," while yes moving the home saved it from the wrecking ball, the house has also subsequently been stripped of its architecturally significant porches and no longer contains any resemblence of its former context at 26th and Division. While saving the house is admirable for its reuse of materials, the moving of the home only amounts to recycling; in no way is it the preservation of a neighborhood historic resource.

To quote the previous message "It is easier to be critical than to step-up." This works both ways. I challenge developers and architects to think about ways in which our historic and natural resources can be preserved while also creating density. Someone needs to "step-up" and think beyond the easy way of making a buck and consider how we can truly create more density and save our neighborhoods from the complete loss of historic character.

Its frustrating when those who want to preserve neighborhood history are stereotyped as opposed to change. Mr Libby's comments and those that have been printed in the local media do nothing but promote that idea, which is not always the case. Many people I know - myself inlcuded - would like to see buildings with mixed use/residential be built, but they also need to consider/respect the extant community. When choosing a location, developers could stand to be more sensitive to the surroundings and look beyond their bottom line.

Randy Rapaport

I would like to encourage citizens of Portland to attend their local neighborhood land-use meetings. If more residents in general and some with education in Urban Planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and art history would particpate, a more balanced result and direction might emerge.

Based on the 4 or 5 negative experiences with the HAND neighborhood group meetings regarding the above project I have determined that my group would have been better off not attending any meetings. I will never again allow my architect/design partners to be subjected to such negativity.

Currently, I am working on a major mixed-use, and types of retail, housing, live/work project and partnering with an architect/design firm from the east coast that will become the center of the Mississippi district, to respond to requests above.

Our intention is to create a fresh urban model that will have national signifance and influence for other developmnents.

The community will contain local or regional retail tenants, many of which will own their own spaces of the following type: food service, grocery, music store with stage, florist, book store, printing press and gallery, art gallery, yoga/martial arts space, musician practice spaces, small venue for independent film and performance, coffee/tea house and a small bar/ dance club. It will also have a large, outdoor public space. Mor thatn 100 jobs will be created.

As much as I would like to see this happen, I am not really attached to any of it.

Randy Rapaport

Val

Can the creative preservation and reuse of existing landscapes and structures be deemed a "fresh urban model"? Every time older structures are demolished there is a huge impact on our dwindling resources. Historic preservationists are not just a narrow minded group of luddites but are looking at a broad picture of historic AND environmental awareness.

Absolutely it would be nice if more people would engage in our neighborhood organizations, if not they become stale and run the potential of becoming stereotypical NIMBY's. It is extremely difficult for these ALL volunteer groups to continually be put into a defensive posture when it comes to Land-use but what else can we do? We are often given little notice or time to react to land-use developments, which I think leads to our frustration and sometimes bitterness toward certain projects. That said, it would be nice if neighborhood feelings would be given more consideration than those of someone simply looking to make a buck by taking advantage of obviously weak land use regulations.

We're not just out looking for a fight, we just want to be a reasonable part of the equation.

Maynard Krebs

It's unfortunate that the Clinton building has to be built on a lot that contained an historic home. And it's absolutely true that even though the house is being preserved by moving, its architectural context will be totally ruptured.

BUT, we can't assume that Rapaport had his pick of all four lots at that intersection. It's not fair to suggest he should have chosen one of the others. Who says they were even for sale?

More importantly, though, I think neighbors have to understand that Division is one of the city's most prominent arterial streets, and that means it's an appropriate place for high-density housing. Will it take some getting used to for neighbors in adjacent single-family homes? Of course. But 26th and Division is an ENTIRELY appropriate place for a condo.

What's more, I know some readers don't like modern architecture, or that they find the Clinton monolithic for their neighborhood. But Randy Rapaport is one of the only developers in the city who really endeavors to commission exceptional contemporary design. His last project, the Belmont Lofts, won numerous awards and is quite critically acclaimed. The Clinton is designed by the same firm.

Certainly some neighbors' apprehension and even ire is understandable, but they're getting exceptional architecture on a lot that was destined sooner or later for a building much larger than the average single-family home.

One final note to Rapaport, though: Don't treat the neighborhood association as a dead-end road. The process was frustrating for you this time around, but it remains just that: a process. Even if you face some hostility, it's better to engage the people there than to sidestep them.

Val

I agree 26th and Division is an appropriate place for condo construction, as are many lots along SE Division. However, the specific lot chosen was a neighborhood landmark that just happened to have the only CM zoning in the area. The CM zoning was crucial to the plan for The Clinton but was only put in place - in 1995 - as a means to preserve the historic building and landscape (see BDS records). In other words, this project seems simply opportunistic and therefore this whole process has become enormously frustrating to neighbors, especially when the city says that the reasons for the zone change 10 years ago no longer mean anything. When this kind of attitude is coupled with the developer and the architect telling us we are going to like their project (and aren't given any alternatives) it becomes easy to understand how things get heated.
Additionally, the plans for The Clinton could have incorporated at least some of the original landscape or even one of the original structures, while still creating far greater density than had existed on that site previously. Imagine if the plan had been to move the Thomas House to face SE 26th, placing it closer to the other houses on that block. Then the entire front 2/3 of the lot - facing Division - would have become usable for a smaller but still viable mixed use development. This would have saved the house in nearly its original context while also creating density along a major transit street and (for the most part) would not place a very tall building directly adjacent to extant single family residences.

If this had been the proposal I think opposition would have been minmal, if at all.
Instead we were told these are our plans and you will like them or else you'll get a Weston-like apartment complex on the site. How are we supposed to remain positive when faced with such an attitude? A developer may win awards for design but that doesn't make them a nice or reasonable person.

Frank Dufay

More importantly, though, I think neighbors have to understand that Division is one of the city's most prominent arterial streets, and that means it's an appropriate place for high-density housing...

Look at the photo...the building is on 26th, not Division. The neighborhood would've supported this elsewhere on Division. Instead, Division gets a wall.

Would you point to where the delivery vans are to park for the retail on the first floor? Randy asked for --and got-- a variance so he doesn't have to provide the delivery parking required by code.
He squeezed the largest possible building he could get on this site...and then asked for even more with a request for a height variance.

Randy won't be providing bicycle parking for visitors and shoppers either. He bought his way out of the obligation. Forget about any obligation to the neighborhood to be a good neighbor!


Chris McMullen

This project is a classic example of how density is driving homeowners out of Portland proper and to the ever expanding suburbs.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-04-20-urbanflight_x.htm

Portlanders better start voting out "visionaries" like Rex Burkholder and Eric Sten if they want to try to stop these neighborhood-runining developments.

Ben McCormick

Yeah, and All the Way with LBJ! Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!

Andy Silver

If this project drives anyone to the suburbs, good riddance. A lot of people complain that Portland architecture sucks, and then what happens when great design comes along?

Val

I think the case of The Clinton goes way beyond the question of "good design." There are so many other issues that need to be considered when moving into an existing neighborhood, especially with such a large structure.

Quoting the previous post: "If this project drives anyone to the suburbs, good riddance."
This sort of attitude is exactly part of the problem today in Portland. The impression exists that many newcomers don't care that long-time residents hold our neighborhoods in high regard, not because of their investment potential but because of the sense of community that has been fostered over the last century. Are these people just supposed to step aside because their neighborhood has become trendy?

By the way, just who is it that says Portland architecture sucks?

Frank Dufay

If this project drives anyone to the suburbs, good riddance.

An interesting perspective. Since you don't seem to believe neighbors should have any say over what happens in their neighborhoods...why should the building owners? Why not, as has been suggested here already, let architects do all the visioning of our future while some of them eagerly bury and destroy our past? (And see how many commisions you get with that attitude.)

A lot of people complain that Portland architecture sucks, and then what happens when great design comes along?

What looks to me like a tricked-out dorm room --and which is, in fact, a decorated box-- out of scale with everything around it...where's the good design? Where's the visitor parking? Where's the loading zone? Where's the bicycle spaces? Where's the contribution or even connection to the surrounding neighborhood?

Like much of the current ethos of development, the architecture here steals from the public space, and gives back nothing. Every square inch of available private space, however, is a commodity, for sale to the highest bidder. That's hardly high art or superior design.

Jamie Owens

My comments are about the original posting by Brian Libby. Not anything about the lack of Portland Architecture, NIMBY or moving to the 'burbs.

I realize this is just a hot air, pat-on-the back puff piece, but is it really okay to just present one view of the reality??

I like indie music and skateboarding too, does that mean I am cool enough to tell anyone what is needed in their neighborhood? Am I cutting edge too?

Mr. Rapaport wanted to do something beautiful...well what happened, why didn’t you?

Did you even check what civic means??
Not even the garbage man will be able to enter the property without a key. Except for the retail, everything is behind a locked gate. How does this make The Clinton “of the people”. Civic my arse.

I call it: The Walmart. Consider the similarities: Large unwanted building out of character with the rest of the neighborhood, site made up entirely of just the building and the parking lot, added noise, light, heat, traffic, lots of safety issues, no one gains anything except the owner, lack of any neighborhood input, arrogant developer. Yup, The Walmart.

The building is going onto a block of single family turn-of-the- century, over 100 year-old, homes. It will dwarf everything around it. Even someone who has not been to architecture school can see that the perspective is all wrong, it is a giant box placed at the end of a street. And now I learn from you the building will have flashing green lights too, is there NO end to this?

I was told the building was placed so it wouldn’t block any light. Have you forgotten what state you live in?? Up here the sun, during the summer, is north of Portland. Yes, my light will be blocked. But hey I understand why you aren’t so upset by all of this, after all it won’t be the sun in your yard that is blocked.

You suggest there must be something wrong with us, the neighbors, if we don’t like Randy’s vision for our block.....do you really believe that?

Well, I did tell him what would make us happy. I asked him to make it smaller. Take off the top floor, that would let the sun come back for us, it would help the perspective of the building and it would solve his parking problem. Can you believe that as it drawn right now, he doesn’t have enough parking for all of his tenants! How silly is that; to have a “high-end” home and nary a place to put your car?

Why don’t you all come down and see for yourself before making a judgment that we should all get on board with Randy......you know ‘cause we are really cool people.

Brian Libby

Jamie et al.,

In retrospect it's clear I was insensitive to the neighbors in the Clinton area concerned about the project. I shouldn't have let my words indicate that Randy is somehow hipper than thou and therefore exempt from addressing in the design he's sponsoring a sound integration with the existing urban fabric. What I'd meant to say was simply that I think it's a potentially beautiful building by one of the best architects in Portland. I think the building is in scale with Division Street, and even if the address is technically on 26th I think of it as largely a Division Street building. As I said before, I see Portland's increasing density in the future being manifested by larger-scale buildings on major streets that are perhaps in some ways out of scale with the single-family residences nearby. And perhaps the Clinton building needs to do more to make that transition easier. But I still resolutely believe in the project, and I hope the two sides can work out their differences.

Frank Dufay

Brian,

I think the building is in scale with Division Street...

Not this segment of Division.

..and even if the address is technically on 26th I think of it as largely a Division Street building.

And Randy calls it "The Clinton" except its not on Clinton either. Let's just make stuff up...it doesn't matter anyway when buildings are placed in NO context whatsoever with the neighboring buildings or neighborhood.

But I still resolutely believe in the project...

It would be helpful if you explained why? And as for the two sides "coming together" sure, we'll try, but its hard when Randy has already bullied --and bulldozed-- his way through the neighborhood.

Randy Rapaport

When I looked at the contextual sense of place, what with the Plaid Pantry, the early 1960's car repair and Joe Weston's (i think) at least type of 1960's apartment complex it was decided that a bold statement was in order. My team agreed and we plan to begin construction very soon.

I am unwilling to "dumb-down" my projects because they would simply not be worth my energy otherwise. I plan to step-up even further on projects to come. The city of Portland and the many architects and designers that I have contact with are delighted! I love Portland and it deserves to awaken with regard to its architecture.

Randy Rapaport


Jamie Owens

You use the term “dumb down” which again shows that you would like to promote the idea that because the neighbors have dared to defy you, and that we don’t agree with you, we are just not good enough for your vision. We’re not smart enough to “get it”. Don’t you realize how you sound??

And you are already thinking of your next conquests, your next project, the next neighborhood to swoop down into and improve with ‘your sense of presence’. Good lord where does it all end? So you get to change the face of this place and you don’t even have a stake in this neighborhood, you don’t care about this land or our homes at all.

Please save us from your energy.

Of course your peers are delighted, they are not living in the shadow of your project.

This neighborhood’s architecture was just fine without your box, it was already hip without you, it was already awake with homes and families. You did not transform an empty lot, you took a historic home that was peaceful and beautiful, you cut down trees. You will build and then move on. How is that different from any other developer? There is absolutely nothing special about your work or how you do it. You are fooling yourself to think otherwise.

John Hopkins

Well, I live next door to the project and it is safe to say I see both perspectives very well. I don't think it is possible to make everyone happy in this endevour. I've owned my house next door for seven years and I will feel the ramifications of this building as much as anyone. However, not once have I been approached by anyone in the community in regards to this project. Randy is the only person who has contacted me since hearing of the sale from my previous neighbors. Good or bad I will get what I want because I have chosen to work with Randy and not against him. I knew they were selling long before others did and I can confirm they they were in the right to do so. Nobody has cared about this corner (or the Clay Rabbit) until this point. They're business was dead. They took the money and most of us would have as well. It is gone, we are moving forward, all we can hope for is a smooth transition and hope that sombody buys the Plaid Pantry...

andrew

randy,

are you aware of the repo business that is relocating from alberta street? i think the cross street is 10th or 11th.

that would be a great location for a block-long condo/retail development. lower alberta is crying out for a combination of striking architecture and sidewalk bustle.

"I love Portland and it deserves to awaken with regard to its architecture."
even though i have some misgivings about the siting of the clinton, i say: amen. bring it on.

Trevor Jones

Have the designers and developers worked to the best of their abilities to lessen the negative impact, environmentally and culturally, within the surrounding community, as is their charge as professionals in their fields? I think undoubtedly so. Consider that they knew they’d encounter some opposition, but consider too that there might be a potentially greater value to your community and our city from a project like this one than the negative impact of the wall you fear facing Division or your lack of daylight in such close proximity to the project, or the lack of bike parking and clumsy delivery situation.
To me this is a problem of perspective, because I see the problems you mention as the inevitable unfortunate inconveniences of pursuing sustainable economic development. I’m sure as a designer or a developer it is impossible to find a site for high density mixed use development that is not going to have a negative consequence for someone. I know Randy personally and have never known him to be anything other than well intended and genuinely concerned with the well being of others. I’m sure he’s doing the best he can and those who are so critical of him personally ought to reconsider their assumptions about his character and his intentions as they relate to this project. I don’t know anyone from Holst personally, but judging from their previous work, I’m sure they attempted with integrity and honesty to resolve all the design problems associated with this project.
And please reconsider whether this project really threatens what you value in your community. I grew up in a California suburb whose cultural and architectural fabric changed drastically over the course of my life. Consider how provincial your perspective might appear to someone who has witnessed drastic, or even catastrophic change to their community.
The objections to this project are not without merit and are to be expected from people who are affected adversely by it. But as other bloggers have previously stated, that's a foregone conclusion. The design and development processes required to make this building happen seem to me to be functioning properly and will I think ultimately bring value to this community, this city, this world, that far outweighs the negative impact. Like surgery, architecture and design are imprecise. Even the siting and design of the 100 year old historic home on that lot was not perfect. We all hope to not be among the small percentage of casualties that occur during a complicated surgical procedure, or a complicated environmental design. Alas, it is not always so.
I’m not trying to tell you what I think is right for you community, any more than Randy or Holst are. I can only speak from my experience and hope to convince you that the designer and developer of this project are not nearly as nefarious as you presume.
With the proper perspective, this project can be seen as a considerable asset to your community, a community whose architectural and cultural fabric will never cease to change. I consider your community lucky that it’s Randy and Holst, not KB Homes and a far less accomplished architectural firm.

Frank Dufay

Nobody has cared about this corner (or the Clay Rabbit) until this point.

Not true. That's why the Division Business Association and HAND Neighborhood supported the spot zoning to commercial ten years ago...to save that corner and its historic structures. Not to later use that zoning to sell out and throw up condos.

And, with all due respect, you may live next door but you also run your hair salon business on your residential-zoned lot. You claim special insider knowledge about the sale and deals with Rappaport, but did you share that with your neighborhood association or neighbors?

Val

"Have the designers and developers worked to the best of their abilities to lessen the negative impact, environmentally and culturally, within the surrounding community, as is their charge as professionals in their fields?"

So, does chastising those in opposition to the project, even making thinly veiled threats to sell the property to someone else - who would then build something even less desirable - was that their best effort? Let's see... Historic structures -GONE! Historic Landscape - GONE! Neighborhood Landmark - GONE! Environmentally friendly greenery - GONE! Neighbor privacy - GONE! But supposedly the neighborhood will be better off because of the creation of a behemoth of a heat island that doesn't face the transit street to which it should be oriented, given the new Division Green Street plans; all on site parking will be behind lock and key for residents only, meaning an increase in parking problems in an area that is already experiencing problems; delivery vehicles can conveniently (for them) park in the middle of 26th - yeah that's a good solution - there's no traffic on that street. In Portland the most "bike friendly" city in the U.S this new project contains the progressive notion of buying one's way out of the required bike parking - who does that benefit?

I do not doubt that Holst is capable of good work, after all they were involved in the Ecotrust Building, imagine that, a historic structure was saved and reused, now that's green building!

"Consider how provincial your perspective might appear to someone who has witnessed drastic, or even catastrophic change to their community."

Isn't that what has attracted so many people to the Portland area in the past few decades - our provincial attitudes? If Portland weren't so recognized for its divergences from the mainstream, I doubt this city would be so popular to outsiders. Consider how arrogant it sounds when someone relatively new to a community comes along and tries to tell everyone what is best for them. Yes, more drastic loss of community has occurred elsewhere, even in Portland during the 1960s, although the urban removal efforts of that era are no longer prevalent, I think that we still face a similar - though more piecemeal effort - to achieve the same end result, meaning a loss of community in the name of progress.

Still, I see that no one has discussed, as I mentioned in an earlier post, how a slightly different plan for this property could have gained neighborhood support, saved at least some of the historic characteristics of the property, been more "green," not been so obtrusive to the neighbors, created more density, and allowed for off street deliveries. So, from the silence on this matter I can only conclude that this project is not about anything beyond the almighty dollar, though it is wrapped in a progressive package. How sad that we cannot be more creative.

alex

while only an architecture student an currently living in europe, pdx is a city i love, lived in and hope to work in. i have this to say.

belmont lofts was a beautiful design and fit very well into the urban fabric of the neighborhood. i really love this building!

the clinton is a disappointing next step for an architect/developer team that has so much promise and potential to have a positive effect in pdx.

i do not know where to start in the criticism of this building. the massing and street orientation is too large and only engages the street with one facade (this could be because of solar orientation). why can not both streets be fully engaged with this building providing both the resident and the city itself a better view and relationship. if you are going to make a rectangular prism, employ an intelligent tectonic employed to create depth and dynamism. wrapping the box with a rusted metal plane that turns up at the end is anything but.

more importantly than any aesthetic aspect is how it fits into the neighborhood, the input of the neighborhood, and the desire to make this a functional and environmentally positive addition to the area that sets an example for others.

bikes need to be encouraged, interaction at the pedestrian level in the most important for neighborhoods. the car negates this all. put them underground.

the fact that this building will block the sunlight of its neighbors is terrible! why could a compromise not be achieved. i feel that they should have the right to seek litigation for what will be taken from them.

i think that this building has and will continue to be a rift between the old residents and the ones that will come. what will this do to the neighborhood atmosphere.

if randy cares about doing something with high and positive impact, i think this building needs to be re-considered and re-designed. you might loose some invested money, but you have the chance to fix a mistake and grow. if you want to make your work an example of progressive portland architecture please build green, with high architectural quality, and fully engage the neighborhood you are trying to play messiah to.

regardless, i do acknowledge the good intent that randy has and his desire to improve the quality of architecture in portland. i hope that randy and co will have the ability to have a great an positive impact in pdx.

Randy Rapaport

Having reviewed my earliest notes for The Clinton Condominiums, I asked John to orient the building to face Portland's downtown which is the 200' length of the site. The Division street side is 100 feet.

Finally, because of the absence of any meaningful context in the immediate area, other than the beautiful 1950's Beluschi Church addition way down the street, I asked John to design something "not from here," like a spaceship landed. John always takes my requests to heart.

Randy Rapaport

Val

Mr. Rapaport's comment "the absence of any meaningful context in the immediate area" exemplifies the very attitude the neighborhood has been faced with since first learning about this project. First, there was "meaningful context" at 26th and Division but it was obliterated when the Thomas house and its landscape were erased from the intersection. Secondly, it is an insult to the entire neighborhood to suggest that the closest neighborhood element with any meaning is a church 9 blocks away. While yes the Belluschi church is nice, what about the various vintage houses, buildings, and trees in the surrounding blocks nearer to 26th? While I would agree there are some properties with worthless structures upon them, like the Plaid Pantry, there are also wonderful spots like the 26th & Clinton business district, which provides a real sense of neighborhood history and character or Piccolo Park, the neighborhood's token greenspace. There are also several heritage trees in the neighborhood as well as fine examples of "Old Portland" housing stock.
Some may say that if there is so much character nearby then why the big deal about the Thomas house? Again, I would point to the fact that the Thomas house was the last remaining property at this intersection with its original character intact. It represented a gateway to the HAND neighborhood with its wonderful porches, trees, and carriage house, something that cannot be found elsehwere in the vicinity.

Mr. Rapaport's comments show how those involved in this project have given zero consideration to the neighborhood.
I ask anyone out there, if you knew a large structure was going to be built in your neigborhood, with a huge impact, wouldn't you agree it would be better to work with neighbors instead of trying to make us swoon over awards and accolades, and so-called "green construction" which serves only to distract people from the real problems the project presents (traffic, parking, neighborhood character, environmental impact, et al)? And yes, though the developer and architect did atttend several neighborhood meetings, it should be noted that they did so, not for our input but to simply tell people what they were going to do, like it or not. This hardly represented a meaningful discourse.

Val B.

am

While I live in North Portland and do not reside in the Clinton neighborhood area, this is a very interesting conversation/debate. After attending a house party in the neighborhood (professional 20-30somethings who were genuinely looking forward to the building), I have to wonder if the opponnents to this project are a small but very vocal group. A "loud" minority?

Also, regarding litigation for blocked sunlight... this sounds kind of ridiculous to me. If this is true, can I sue my neighbor for their tree which has grown significantly over the past few years and now blocks the sunlight from my kitchen windows? Just a thought.

Frank Dufay

I asked John to design something "not from here," like a spaceship landed.

You want a spaceship on your block of residential homes?

val

am, I would consider your audience. If the party you refer to was attended by only 20-30 year old professionals, I would guess the point of view may be skewed - on any given topic. The neighborhood in which the Clinton is to be constructed is hardly made up of one exclusive group of people and if it were, would not be worth living in. Those opposed to this building have come from several perspectives (age,occupation,etc...).

Again, I would reiterate that this same group of folks would likely not have been opposed to this project had the plans been a bit different or a different location been chosen.

John Holmes

I told myself.

Just let em blog it out.

But.

Some facts have been skewed.
So, what the hell.
Its a full moon.

We are providing 15 bike parking spaces.

Also, the loading zone would have wiped out 3 parking spaces. On balance we felt it better to keep 3 cars off the street than provide a loading zone that gets used occasionally. This was also mitigated by the fact that we provided 25 parking spaces behind the retail - none of which were required by the zoning code.

Really this isn't the issue.. is it?
Of course not.

The real issue is?

Just a sec.

OK its removing a beautiful historic home, one of the last on Division. Along with mature landscaping.
Yes?

-Frank, Val.
I'm sorry. No really, I'm sorry to see you're
still very upset with this.

You are very well intentioned.

You care about your neighborhood.

Have you ever had a conversation with the
people who sold the property to Randy?
They took full advantage of the zoning- the property sold for twice what it would have had it been zoned merely residential.
You need to ask yourself, Why didn't they approach us (the neighborhood assoc.) and work with us to figure out a way to save the old house and landscaping.

Didn't happen.
Took money
Ran

And yet Randy is the bad guy.
Not fair.

Zoning laws - The rules that govern how we can use our property. We have played by the rules.

While you may disagree with what we have done,
you must understand that in a healthy society tolerance of each others differences is the only sane option. The zoning laws allow us to balance to public good with private freedom. To say that the zoning which was change eleven years ago is somehow not valid today is absurd. To say that it was changed in order to protect the old house shows that you are naive. Being naive is forgivable. But don't project you anger towards us.
Once again - the previous owners, people who lived in your community for many years - They were your betrayers. We have a different vision.

The feeling you miss.
The feeling you got when you walked by and looked at the old house.
You were inspired.
I understand that.
Is it possible that after our building is built that others will look up and feel something similar?
Feel inspiration.
If so, then although things have changed, they continue on. What matters is the experience inside. No one can really take that from you.

val

I appreciate that this conversation is continuing because this issue goes far beyond the single property in question. It would be great if neighborhoods, developers, architects, planners, etc... would get together and figure out how Portland can grow and still preserve important elements of its historic character. I keep asking for this but nobody wants to step up. I hope you can see where the frustration lies...

Correct me if i'm wrong but aren't the bike spaces only for building residents and/or employees? - that is they - along with all onsite car parking - are behind a locked & gated entrance? I realize you weren't required to have parking at all on site but neither were you required to destroy the existing property in its entirety.

Believe me, if the former owners of the Clay Rabbit had not run away I would love to have engaged them in a conversation about this property. So, this wasn't an option - never was. It was an option however, available to ANY owner of this property, to preserve its historic character - at least to some extent. I don't think it was just the Clay Rabbit owners who took the money and ran. Its pretty clear that The Clinton is designed to maximize profits for Mr. Rapaport or else there may have been consideration of a smaller design - one that may have saved some historic elements of the property.

When speaking of tolerance and vision it may be a good idea to show toleration of other people's visions rather than brush them off as naive. We all have ideas about the places in which we live and how we would like to see them change or remain the same. In no way does that suggest that one individual knows better than the rest of us.

Please don't continue down that path because issues like those we're discussing here are not going to go away soon. Developers and architects should recognize that as Portland continues to grow there will be more of these sorts of situations. Rather than fence ourselves in, imagine what could be done in Portland if a more congenial and multi-sided discussion could occur. We might all have to concede something but the end result might be less controversy and stronger, more unified communities.

Val B.

am

Val - I guess the meaning behind my post was to say that after reading the previous comments regarding this development, I had assumed that the whole of the Clinton neighborhood was outraged… and in my experience, that does not seem to be the case. You are correct, the group was not composed of the exact demographic of the Clinton neighborhood, but that shouldn’t really be the point. The point is that I met many people who are looking forward to this project. Is it that everyone who does not agree with you has a “skewed” viewpoint and shouldn’t be considered? It makes me think that there are a lot of people out there who would support this project, but aren’t necessarily involved in the community/neighborhood/architecture groups previously mentioned. I think that sometimes a few people with loud opinions tend to try to speak for the many. And while it is nice that you all have such strong feelings about protecting your neighborhood, it is unfortunate when individuals use public forums like this one to misconstrue a situation. It seems to me that some residents are fearful and frustrated with the future changes coming to the neighborhood, and those fears and frustrations are being focused on one project.

In my opinion, Division/26th seems just right for a high density development. It is on a bus route, no? Across the street from a mini-mart. A grocery store down a few blocks (rip wild oats – anyone know the future of that site?). And if I am not mistaken, adjacent on 3 sides to commercial/retail (the house to the south is a salon business, right?).

It is unfortunate that a historic house could not be saved, but I can understand why the previous owners would take advantage of the value of their property. I doubt they would have profited as much had they sold to an individual or small business committed to using the property as it had been in the past.

Val

am, when I spoke of "skewed" points of view, what I really was trying to get at is that to see the big picture it would be a good idea to query those from a diverse body of individuals. Certainly everyone has their right to an opinion, even if I (or anyone else) don't agree with it, that has not been the intent of my posts. I really want to draw attention to the divisive nature of projects - like The Clinton, which only consider certain points of view as valid and others as ill-informed or naive.

I absolutely recognize that the whole neighborhood (and many others in Portland) are divided on the issues of development, density, historic preservation, architectural design, etc... but is anyone out there trying to work out ways in which to prevent these repeated struggles?

You suggest there are many people out there that would support this project but for whatever reason they remain publicly silent. I agree but would add that there are also numerous people who don't like this project but do not know what to do about it or they feel that there isn't anything they can do, and so they elect to do nothing as well.

As far as misconstruing the situation, I hope you don't mean me because personally I have not posted anything that was not based in fact. Question me if you would like, but that is true.

Again, I have never said 26th & Division is a poor location for high density development. I have stated several time how more density could have been added to this property while still preserving aspects of its historic character. Though I know their lots haven't been for sale, I also believe the other three corners at the intersection would have been a better choice for a high density project, thereby saving the only remaining example of what that intersection really looked like a century ago. As it stands, we will likely see all four corners redeveloped and there is now zero trace of the past at that intersection.

As for your comment about the salon next door to The Clinton property, well, as was noted in an earlier post, that is really not a conforming use for that property, an issue that i'll leave for soemone else to pursue.

To add a historic perspective, this same neighborhood faced destruction in the 1970s by the once-planned Mt. Hood Freeway but was saved, at least in part, because enough people spoke out in opposition. At the same time time however, many people also spoke out in favor of the freeway. Just as increasing density is today a sort of "buzzword," so was freeway construction (30-odd years ago) a manner in which to accomodate our city's growth.
Today, the very same elements of this neighborhood that were endangered in the 1970's are again endangered. In fact, the very property in question would have likely been in the left lane of a freeway.
The point is, the struggle today is not unlike that of the 1970's, and its up to all of us to figure out how to best find some common ground.


Frank Dufay

Some facts have been skewed...We are providing 15 bike parking spaces...Also, the loading zone would have wiped out 3 parking spaces.

None of the bike --or car-- parking spaces is for the public. This is a gated --literally--community...with no provision for delivery trucks, bicyclists who come to shop retail, or visit with their friends. It fails to address Division Street --our main street--with anything but a wall.

The spot zoning application of ten years ago was to preserve a historic residence, and that application was never completed. That city staff argue --as they did-- that APPLYING for a permit is the same as actually FINALLING a permit and doing what that permit requires...is an embarassment for city/public process. It has been appealed to LUBA, though not by the Neighborhood Association, but by a neighbor.

You speak of three un-metered parking spaces being "saved." When they are filled with commuters, who park close-in to catch the bus...where WILL the delivery trucks be parked? Where?

Where will visitors to the shops park their bikes? Their cars?

These aren't tough questions, but they do require answers. Working together we can come to solutions. Tell us you're going to put a spaceship on our historic site, that's all there is to it --end of discussion-- and the spillover effect of this development on the neighborhood isn't the concern of your gated community...well, that certainly builds a barrier to working together.

Frank Dufay

the salon next door to The Clinton property, well, as was noted in an earlier post, that is really not a conforming use for that property, an issue that i'll leave for soemone else to pursue.

The salon is a properly permitted "home occupation" as long as it meets certain criteria.
I assume it does.

Frank Dufay

Is it possible that after our building is built that others will look up and feel something similar?
Feel inspiration.
If so, then although things have changed, they continue on. What matters is the experience inside.

There's merit to what you say, John. While I may enjoy Les Halles in Paris as it is today --and I do, for the most part-- imagine the enormity of the change moving Paris' central market to the burbs, and how others may have felt. I despise the disneyfication of Times Square --where I lived long ago when it was real-- but look at the flocks of adoring tourists today.

Eye of the beholder and all that. We need to respect each others' visions...but work together to solve the pragmatic issues, or compromise the ones that need compromising. How we get to that dialogue is the challenge.

A good work of art needs to be framed and hung properly. That's the essence of the problem here.
Ignore the setting, and no mattrer how inspirational the art, its message can get lost in the noise created by bad placement.

Trevor Jones

Val- What makes you more a Portlander than others sharing their opinions on this blog? You responded to my previous post by calling me an "outsider". Neither my age nor the length of time I've lived in Portland are known to you (not that they should matter), yet you find it reasonable to consider me an outsider. Why? What entitles you to that attitude?
I apologize if you were insulted when I referred to your opinion about the Clinton as provincial- with a negative connotation. There are, I agree, many things about Portland that are provincial in a positive sense. But yours and others’ self-righteous sense of ownership of the city is not one of them. I’m proud to be a Portlander and will not tolerate being considered an outsider because I haven’t spent my entire life here.
I chose to live here for many of the positive provincial reasons that you probably enjoy this city. And you don’t have any more right to those advantages than anyone else.
You may feel entitled to them because you were here in the 70s when there were battles to promote a sustainable development path for the city, but you don’t have any right to police the city now for outsiders who you feel are undeserving of the benefits of those battles. I don’t find any fault with my perspective, or my choice to consider this place my home, regardless of where I’m from. Do you Val? Should I go back to California with my tail between my legs because you think I’m too mainstream?
I don’t think you’re following your own advice that it’s up to all of us to find common ground. It didn’t feel much like you were looking for common ground when you labeled me an outsider and dismissed my perspective.

Val

Trevor, I did not call you specifically an outsider or too mainstream - please reread my May 2nd post. I do not claim to be more of a Portlander than anyone else and I certainly welcome people from wherever they come from. However, I object to the attitude of ANYONE new to ANY area - even if they just moved across town - who think they know what is better for a given community than those who have lived in a particular place for an extended amount of time. Wouldn't it be better to share ideas both new and old, rather than try to beat us over the head with them? - This is how the project in question was presented to the neighborhood. It wasn't about let's find some common ground somewhere, it was about this is how it's going to be, whether you like it or not.

I regret that you mis-interpreted my comments as a personal attack. The real issue isn't about one individual or for that matter just one neighborhood. The issues faced here are citywide.

Trevor Jones

Val- maybe you need to reread your May 2nd post. You did not need to refer to me specifically as an outsider or too mainstream, but it was quite clear from your message that you consider my perspective as such. I specifically said in my May 2nd post- "I’m not trying to tell you what I think is right for your community". I'm not. But you stubbornly insist that myself and other bloggers here are doing that, and you obviously consider my perspective on the Clinton less valuable because I'm not of your community. I don't think that's fair.

Jamie Owens

There are a few of us neighbors who are paying the ultimate price with this project. We don’t know what it will do to the long-term value of our homes. We don’t know just how many more drivers will decide to avoid the the already-busy corner of SE 26th and SE Division and speed down the narrow street we live on. We really don’t know how much privacy we will lose yet...just that we will. We don’t know what it will look like with the green blinking lights..all night long? We don’t know if the tenants will complain about our block parties. How much will they actually see, looking down on us anytime they want to? How many more cars will it take to where this place does feel like the ‘burbs? Will the good neighbors decide to move away? Maybe new great ones will move in, maybe not.

I think you all that have been talking about this project still haven’t answered ANY of these questions that keep me up at night. The few of us on this block are the real ones taking the chances here, not the developer, he does not have a stake in this neighborhood.

According to some I should have known this was coming living so close to SE Division and all. I should have had the gift of foresight so many years ago. Go ahead blame me for not knowing what the City of Portland was up to.

Blame me for not knowing the City wouldn’t follow its own rules about zoning.

Blame me for not knowing that the Clay Rabbit people would sell to a developer.

Blame me for this mess, for asking questions and asking for answers.

It doesn’t matter what we think of the building, we are all just trying to live in a place that we can call home. We all know what this building will do to this street. We will loose privacy, we will have added traffic and noise, heat, light. Will it be enough to drive us crazy...don’t know. It will add 27 new neighbors to the end of my street, tripling what is here already. To some this is okay and ya’ll talk about being provincial or not, being cool or not, or just about the darn building.

I want to talk about what the building represents. What it represents to those of us who will ACTUALLY BE LIVING IN THE SHADOW. Those of us who may have our homes values decrease, those who will be impacted by all of the negative things that this project will bring. It is so easy for many of you who haven’t lived here, to not think about the reality of this project. I ask again for all of you to think about how you would feel if a 4-story building was built next to your home. Go back and read my first paragraph, I bet you have the same questions and uncertainties that I do. Hard to come up with anything positive eh?

It doesn’t matter if you are from Portland or California or the moon. It is just so easy for this project to be okay if you are not any of the families that will be impacted. So in the truest sense of the definition, most of you are outsiders.

I am just trying to do the best I can for myself and my street. but to many of you I am just in the way of progress and change and your particular “vision and sense of presence”.

Again, I don’t fear change, I just fear this change.

Val

Trevor, I'm not going to waste any more of my time quibling over the semantics of what was or wasn't said or "inferred" in earlier posts. I will say one last thing about this project and these sorts of projects in general... they have a tremendous impact on the surrounding community and in the case in question that impact has been repeatedly brushed aside. Wouldn't it be better if we could all work on ways to prevent such animosity?
Clearly by the lack of response to some of the questions I have posed on this blog, there is a tremendous amount of outreach that needs to occur in this city to convince all sides that we need to work together. That means all points of view need to come to the table or else it will be a waste of time.

I hope Portlander's of all walks of life will think about this and start a much needed discussion.

Jamie, well said! You are exactly right that you and your immediate street will feel the most direct impact of this project and you are also right that this situation seems to be being ignored.

Gabriel Bocanegra

A truly fascinating dialogue. Anyway, on another thread in this site titled "Rapping with Rapaport"

[http://chatterbox.typepad.com/portlandarchitecture/2005/05/rapping_with_ra.html]

I wrote:

To the individual who wrote that modern architecture is destroying Portland, think again. If you consider the mindless and ghastly sprawl of Hillsboro or Beaverton then, yes, what is happening there is arguably destructive, from an aesthetic, civic, and environmental standpoint. Moreover (and speaking of Portland "proper"), if you consider the equally mindless architecture of developers seeking to please everyone with their complacent, lazy, faux craftsman bungalows or victorians, you are right once more. Why? Well, this city has an incredible opportunity to be a mecca for architecture that is daring, innovative, sustainable, of quality, beautiful, anti-nostalgic and yes, livable on a human scale; an architecture that celebrates and reflects the city's newfound eclecticism and creativity. Its severely decaying housing infrastructure cries for no less. Please remember that us younger ones are condemned to pay the steep price (mostly emotional, environmental and financial) of having to inherit these tired, old, ugly, smelly and shabby structures. If living like grandma is what some desire, so be it. Trust me, there is plenty of *that* inventory all around. But please do not criticize those of us who demand to re-define fresh environments and experiences for ourselves and the future (just as, in my opinion, our elders ill-defined them for us). It is high time for architectural reinvention in Portland. High time too for the whining to cease. Kudos, then, to the Rapaports of this world.

Val

Gabriel,when you say "decaying housing infrastructure" and "living like grandma" I hope you aren't referring to the housing stock that makes up the bulk of SFR's in the inner-east side of Portland. If you DO mean these houses then your attitude is sad. Are you saying we should just level the entire area west of, say 82nd, and rebuild with something new just because then it would be new? I hope that's not what you meant because that is the sort of attitude that has cost many cities, including Portland, a great amount of its past and a number of wonderful neighborhoods.

Attitudes like this also give zero consideration to the amount of resources that must be consumed in order to build all those newfangled buildings, whereas reusing, remodeling, and renovating existing structures limits that same impact.

And you also consider it "high time for the whining to cease," again expressing an attitude that those who want to preserve aspects of our city know nothing while you apparently are infallible. Tensions between developers and neighbors will never lessen in this city if attitudes like this are repatedly expressed.

Gabriel

Val, I am not suggesting anything remotely as leveling everything west of 82nd (although you just wait until the big earthquake that everyone is fearing strikes). More the reason, then, for housing and commercial structures to be brought up to code. Sadly, I am afraid not much of this will happen except with new development. Talk about a nightmare in waiting.

As for Portland's past, well, it is not an old city by any standard. Besides, unlike some other cities it lacks a vernacular architecture. So why the phobia for reinvention and freshness? It is a city that is well advised to turn toward the future (and in many respects its progressive thinking points in that direction). In my opinion, buildings (like all things living) have an expire-by date (or should). A lot of the energy and resources of all kind spent salvaging an old (if quaint) structure are best spent in sound design, even experimentation, again in my humble opinion. Many old homes/buildings have had a nice long life. But a time will come to say Ta Ta. Are you expecting a sorry replacement with mock colonials or craftsmans (craftsmen?) just so they go with the neighborhood? What missed opportunities! The crying here over the now-gone Victorian on Division is nothing but an exercise in soppy nostalgia.

And please, don't shoot the messenger. Consider that I am neither architect, developer or RE agent.

Val

Gabriel, you should pay better attention. The comments I have been making on this topic have not been simply to avoid all that is new but to seek "new" that respects existing character in our neighborhoods. This doesn't mean I want crap replicas of craftsman bungalows or such, what I really would like to see is quality design with an appreciation of the nearby surroundings, whether they are of historic significance or not.

Maybe Portland doesn't have one particular vernacular style but most of the areas on the inner-eastside are chock full of 1890s-1920s era housing. Though their particular designs may be diverse, they all represent an earlier era of explosive growth in Portland.

Though you are entitled to your opinion, I also am entitled to disagree, especially with your lack of appreciation for extant buildings and the amount of resources saved through renovation. Certainly most buildings have a usable lifespan but that should not be determined by public opinion rather the physical structure should be the primary determining factor. If an old house is completely rotted away, maybe it should be taken down. But, if the structure is sound, then by the same token it should be saved. This isn't just about respect for the past it is about conservation. And besides, I would assert that many of the trendy neighborhoods in this city wouldn't be so if it weren't for the extant buildings. Certainly, Hawthorne didn't become popular as a result of the new building at 34th - It did so as a result of the renovation of a long time community, something that you seem to feel is unimportant.

Two more things.
1. You may want to check your facts. The Thomas House is not a Victorian - never was. If you want to pick on a particular style of building that's fine, but at least make sure you know the style in question.

2. To call my comments and others an "excercise in soppy nostalgia" only further proves your inability to appreciate how cities develop - OVER TIME. If we accept your argument - that all things over a certain age should be condemned and replaced - there would be no character to our cities, they would be desolate, cold expanses of concrete and steel (as there would be no more wood left). If you want an example of this go take a look at the area around SW 3rd & Lincoln (The Portland Towers area), where decades ago progress came to the city and created such a desolate place, where no one is ever seen walking or biking or otherwise enjoying the outdoors, except maybe from the 15th floor of their highrise building. This example shows what happens when people with no appreciation of community or the past are empowered.

You cannot manufacture community which is what our older neighborhoods offer and that new developments have either the opporunity to join with or stand in isolation.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lead Sponsors



Sponsors














Portland Architecture on Facebook

StatCounter

  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad

Paperblogs Network

Google Analytics

  • Google Analytics

Awards & Honors