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Very True, they're afraid of criticism from BoJack and the Anti-Portland Tribune, both of which are great at attacking Portland but never offer any alternatives.

Although I cant imagine the PDC having a hard time pitching this mill property to private developers... its right on the river, its in the Pearl, its a historic building that is ripe for loft conversion (and there arent too many big old convertable buildings left in the pearl) plus there is some land with it which would allow for some new high rise construction to offset the high costs of renovating the mill.


I’m going to miss walking north through the Pearl past Jamison and Tanner parks to look out on the open expanse of field to the solitary Centennial Mill buildings and the graceful arch of the Fremont Bridge in the background. At sunset, with all the aged metal, it’s great to see. It would seem though, that the common mentality is that everything must be developed. Given that, it’s hard to see why developers wouldn’t be drooling over this piece of land.

There’s no excuse for not preserving buildings of the Mill complex that lend themselves to the presentation of the important historical cityscape seen there. Given the simple construction of these buildings, structural problems are likely to be overcome for an expense that would be modest compared to that of more complicated buildings.

City officials screwed up big time on cost management related to the tram. Having failed to employ simple oversight measures in regards to that project now leaves them dancing around like a scared pony at the site of an old rope lying under the bushes. It’s embarrassing. You’d think they’d come up with a little more creative way to get over this little crisis, such as some better ideas than what they’ve been doling out lately.

City officials should be attempting to show that they have a strong sense of the city’s architectural aesthetic and ergonomics. They’ve done this in the past by encouraging restoration of historic structures in Old Town and elsewhere, and by promoting construction of light rail, streetcar and bicycle use.

Lately though, it’s like they’re scared or don’t care. The Rosefriend is perhaps one example of this, showing how city officials are letting historical architectural aesthetic be ripped right out from under the city’s feet withought hardly a sigh of regret.


WS, without wanting to start a tit-for-tat over the Tram a recent piece in the Oregonian noted "[t]he sad truth is that cost overruns are the plague of most large public infrastructure development projects the world over. Three Danish researchers who tracked the history of 258 large projects in 20 countries including the United States over the past 80 years found that costs rose well beyond original estimates in nearly 90 percent of them."

It's not every day that one builds a tram so it was bound to go over budget.

But it looks like people are going to make all involved pay, big time. That's unfortunate, but understandable given the easy mark they've exposed for themselves.

What we have to look forward to as a result though may be a lot less innovation and a pulling back from taking risks.

In other words, leadership.


I guess I should clarify. As you support by example, cost over-runs are common. City officials know that. Many of the public know that. The problem here in Portland, is that they didn't adequately monitor the inevitable cost over-runs for the tram and seek public opinion about it as it went along, allowing the public to adjust in a more constructive way.

Now, at least for awhile, the public doesn't trust city officials. Instead of making a clean brest of it by restating defining aesthetic and infrastructural objectives for the city, city officials, including the mayor are doing this little burnt toes routine. That's what's embarrasing.

It's just stupid for them to do this, because as we all know, the pace of development is critical and will have to resume in one form or another. While these people are playing timid, there's a risk important stuff will be lost. Maybe, as you said, it's a lack of leadership.


Brian, you should really submit a version of this to the Oregonian for publication as a guest opinion piece.


The Centennial Mill site shouldn't be compared with any recent condo conversions. The site has much more serious earthquake problems and rot issues. The waterfront portions of the buildings have been declared unsafe.

The cost of making these buildings habitable will be astronomical. For evidence of how expensive it will be to fix this site, look at the huge excavation and forest of piles recently installed next door for a new building. How will that level of effort be accomplished under an existing building?

The original PDC evaluation concluded that the cost of fixing the site was not consistent with the quality of the buildings or the potential end use. Private developers asked for a chance to save the buildings. It is important to remember that the main criticism lobbed at PDC’s work was that the original study was overly pessimistic and that the buildings could be saved through development, without cost to the City. Now it turns out that only a subsidized project will work (big surprise).

I am not opposed to the subsidy per se, my main concern is that I believe that even with the subsidy; the final design analysis will show that the majority of the buildings will need to be demolished and replaced with new. Then we will have a City-subsidized new development where we could have had a park (or an unsubsidized development).

I like the park.


A little more innovative thinking may be in order. Looking over at the mill site from the south side of the field seperating it from the Pearl, there may only be two really significant buildings to preserve. Or the skyline they present.

Do the actual buildings have to be preserved? Maybe not. Document them, warehouse what can be saved for use on a new building to replace them, and tear them down. New buildings on a properly prepared site only need recreate the view they represent. Combine them with a park.

These particular buildings aren't so sacred that a single timber or piece of mortar can't be forsaken. Their shapes are simple. The old building parts only need to be cladding for the new building.

Unless of course, the site will not support new, similarly tall buildings meeting the requirements for some kind of modern use...and that's hard to believe.

A park only would be fine too, but I have a hard time believing developers will easily accept that. They want to build. They just need to try a little harder for this spot.

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