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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Welcome to the "Oregon Development Thread"

This thread is to cater to all the development news in Oregon that does not have a place on Skyscrapercity, which is a huge portion of the state. The Portland thread does not showcase all the development news in this northwestern state. Stick around and check often at the news going on around the state.


Be sure to also check out:

Washington State Development Thread

Alaska Development Thread


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7-17-09
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Then post article text here, and don't edit text. We want to show the authors true writing and skill. this is to be enjoyed by development lovers. Italics. Thanks for following the rules.
 

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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
West Hayden Island – Habitat, or industry?
Land is prime wildlife area, ideal site for marine terminal
BY STEVE LAW
The Portland Tribune, May 21, 2009, Updated May 21, 2009

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center; Covering the entire northwest!

King Solomon, legend has it, once ordered an infant split in half to settle a dispute between two women who both claimed the baby was theirs. When one of the women was aghast at the idea, Solomon ruled she must be the true mother.

Portland faces a similar dilemma over the fate of west Hayden Island.

Tucked largely out of sight to most Portlanders, it consists of 831 acres of forest, meadow, wetlands and sand west of Jantzen Beach, on the Columbia River.

Port of Portland leaders argue it’s Portland’s last big developable parcel on the 40-foot-deep Columbia River shipping channel, ideally suited for trade-related terminals.

Wildlife advocates argue it boasts a rare intact habitat to shelter beleaguered salmon and migratory birds.

Both sides may be right, but port officials say it’s possible to split the baby.

Greenies disagree.

“I think the challenge is going to be handling it and developing it in a way where we can address both of its potentials,”said Sebastian Degens, the port’s marine planning and development manager.

Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society of Portland conservation director, said there’s no such thing as “balance” in this case, because most of the island’s habitat value will be lost if the port gets its way. “You’re going to wind up with remnants, fragments, fringe habitat.”

The dispute figures to be a major test for Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who rose to power courting business and environmental leaders.

In 1997, the port proposed three marine terminals costing $657 million on two-thirds of the acreage, leaving the western tip and southern edge of the property undeveloped.

The eastern half of the island is fully developed, with Jantzen Beach SuperCenter, industrial facilities, condos, boat moorages and mobile homes. Of more than 800 acres on that half of the island, only one acre was saved as open space.

“We’re going to trash the best of what’s left,” Sallinger said. “And you’re going to turn most of it into a parking lot.”

One prospective use for a new marine terminal on the island’s west side is a car import facility, similar to the sprawling lots holding Toyotas, Hondas and Hyundais at other port terminals.

Some say a marine terminal offers environmental benefits, because shipping by river uses less energy than trucking and locating jobs close to Portland residents reduces commuting costs.

“Industry needs, by its definition, larger chunks, larger parcels, and that’s what’s sorely lacking toward the core of Portland,” said Corky Collier, executive director of the business-oriented Columbia Corridor Association.

Audubon helped kill the port’s 1990s proposal, but the port has revived the idea and now wants the city to annex and rezone west Hayden Island for unspecified marine industrial uses.

Site long prized
Portland General Electric owned most of west Hayden Island for decades and considered developing its own marine facility. Then it proposed a residential development in the early 1990s. Alarmed by the prospect of losing prime industrial frontage on the Columbia shipping channel, the Port of Portland used its condemnation power to forcibly acquire the site from the utility in 1993 and 1994.

The port submitted plans for a grain terminal, to be followed by a new bridge from Marine Drive that would provide truck access to two other terminals. Audubon tenaciously fought the proposal, in a contentious process stretching several years.

In late 2000, the port abruptly mothballed the project and halted environmental reviews. The would-be grain-terminal operator, Archer Daniels Midland Co., bought another site downstream in Kalama, Wash. That made the environmental assessment moot because there was no specific development plan, said Susie Lahsene, the port’s project manager.

Port officials also feared the messy dispute with environmentalists had some “spillover effects,” Lahsene said. At the time, the port was proposing expansions at Portland International Airport that provoked opposition from neighbors.

The port decided to revive its west Hayden Island project, Degens said, after private talks between then-City Commissioner Sam Adams and port Executive Director Bill Wyatt more than a year ago. The pair concluded the issue was ripe for reconsideration as the city was fashioning a new land-use plan for east Hayden Island, and negotiations were heating up over a proposed nearby Columbia River bridge between Portland and Vancouver.

This time around, the port has no specific development plans, but wants to clarify where it can and cannot build in the future, Degens said.

Sallinger complained that the port never answered public concerns that dogged the project the last go-round, including the availability of Port of Vancouver land directly across the river.

The Port of Vancouver has 218 acres of “shovel-ready” Columbia River frontage, said spokeswoman Katie Odem. That land includes a usable marine terminal. The Port of Vancouver also owns 450 riverfront acres in the nearby Columbia Gateway property, available for longer-term marine development, Odem said.

“We do support the Port of Portland’s development of west Hayden Island,” she said. “With the growth of the region, we’ll definitely need both spaces.”

Wildlife benefits
Sallinger argues that the environmental case against development has strengthened since the Port of Portland acquired west Hayden Island. The federal Environmental Protection Agency declared many polluted pockets of the nearby Willamette River as Superfund cleanup sites. Most of west Hayden Island lays in a floodplain and was under water during the 1996 floods. There’s a greater sense of urgency now about climate change, Sallinger said, and thus more concern about the impact of chopping down most of the 488 acres of cottonwood and ash forest on the island. And some Columbia River fish stocks have been listed as threatened.

“What you have here is the most degraded stretch of the Columbia River and the Willamette River. This is a whole gauntlet for them . . . through this toxic soup,” Salinger said.

In a recent 90-minute period, a birder spotted 45 species of birds on west Hayden Island, he said. The site provides habitat for several species that wildlife regulators monitor carefully: bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, bank swallows, willow flycatchers and western painted turtles.

The port has rebuffed Audubon’s offers to buy the site. And the port informed Metro it wouldn’t sell the property when it was considered a target for preservation under the regional government’s 2006 bond measure to fund purchase of green spaces.

Metro removed west Hayden Island from the target list because it only deals with willing sellers, said Jim Desmond, director of the regional government’s Sustainability Center. Metro also recognized that the site provides a rare opportunity for industrial development along the Columbia, Desmond said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the property is worth preserving, said John Marshall, agency fish and wildlife biologist. That’s because it’s a large intact property that can shelter native wildlife, is at the confluence of two rivers, and provides a safe haven for birds.

The federal agency assigns ratings of 1 to 4 for natural areas, with 1 being the highest rating, reserved for unique sites where there is no good way to mitigate the impact of development.

“I believe at different times, we’ve called it between a 1 and a 2, and mostly a 1,” Marshall said.

“It’s an island in a sea of development” and each decision to shrink or fragment the intact habitat makes it harder for native species to survive, he said.

Marshall likened wildlife’s fate in the area to forced relocations of Native Americans onto reservations.

“We used to tell the Indians, ‘You’re going to be OK; just go to this reservation. We’ll just take this part; there’ll be no loss to you.’ Five years later, and you come back and say the same thing. It’s the same thing with habitat.”

In contrast, Marshall said, the vacant Port of Vancouver property has little habitat value.

Rare marine site
Port leaders are equally adamant about west Hayden Island’s value for marine industry.They say the port is approaching full build-out of its marine sites, and has an inevitable need for more Columbia channel frontage so the regional economy can maximize future trade opportunities.

“If Portland wants to have a future in the marine business, sites like this are ideal for it,” said Degens, during a recent guided tour of the island.

The property is buffered from residential areas, and surrounded by industrial activities. From the site, one can hear noise from terminals on the north side of the Columbia at the Port of Vancouver, and truck traffic to the south on Marine Drive.

The southern tip of the property sits across the water from a string of marine cranes at the port’s Terminal 6. The north shore is a few hundred feet from the Vancouver Buoys, where ocean vessels anchor before journeying up and down the Columbia.

The Port of Portland remains a leading national port for wheat, minerals and auto imports. Recently the Port of Vancouver has bustled with imported wind turbines.

It’s tough to say what the future demand will be, Degens said.

Back in the 1950s, “there was skepticism that the Rivergate area would ever be needed by the city of Portland for maritime activities” he said. Now that sprawling port industrial land is nearly built out, though it took five decades.

“Who would have imagined the windmill demand some years back?” Degen added.

Degens resents accusations that the port can’t mix industrial uses with environmental protection, saying sustainability is a factor now in everything the port undertakes.

“We are a green port,” he said.

Frosty relations
Relations were testy between the port and environmentalists the last go-around, and distrust remains.

Sallinger charged the city’s plan to review the port proposal, using a new citizens advisory committee, has tilted toward the port. Initially, the plan was for the port to hire and control the economic and environmental consultants that will help the citizens committee evaluate the port’s proposal.

Timme Helzer, leader of Friends of West Hayden Island, said membership on the citizens committee was stacked to achieve majority votes for the port.

“They made sure that at least 60 percent of the people leaned in their direction,” said Helzer, who lives on east Hayden Island. His group, formed two years ago, boasts 300 members and brings new clout to Audubon’s side.

In response to complaints, the city retracted plans to let the port hire consultants to guide the citizen review.“We’ve switched to a system where we’re hiring them,” said Eric Engstrom, principal planner for the city Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “It helps us get a little more trust from the group that this isn’t a predetermined outcome.”

Committee recommendations also will require a two-thirds majority vote, Engstrom said.

Sallinger senses there’s pressure on city staff to bless a mix of marine development and open space protection. “The city has not been able to use the term ‘no-build’ option,” he said.

Engstrom insisted that remains an option, though he believes the site can accommodate both uses. “That’s my professional opinion at the moment,” he said.

Before recommending new zoning for west Hayden Island, the committee will first judge whether the site can mix marine development and habitat protection, Engstrom said.

A preliminary recommendation on that threshold question could go to the City Council in October or November.

Then, Portland citizens may find out if there’s anyone with King Solomon-like wisdom who can resolve this longrunning dispute.

 

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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mill town Gilchrist pines for resort
by Eric Mortenson, The Oregonian
Sunday May 24, 2009, 9:50 PM

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian
Mary Geales Ernst, daughter of the town's founders, has lived in Gilchrist for 71 of her 82 years. She married at her family's home, proudly looked on when her daughter married here, and endured tragedy here when a second daughter drowned in the mill pond.
GILCHRIST -- This was the last company town in Oregon, a place where the mill employed the men and women, helped build a school for their children and decided what color their homes should be: dark brown. Until 1991, it was possible to charge gas, groceries and rent against your paycheck.

But those days are gone. The mill was sold to one company and its timber acreage to another. Many of the company houses got new metal roofs, colorful vinyl siding and were sold to out-of-towners who wanted vacation cottages, not a community.
The recession has made this a lonely stretch of U.S. 97, 45 miles south of Bend and even farther from central Oregon's affluent glitz. The mill jobs may be gone for good. School enrollment is half what it was.

As market owner Michael Manis gazes out on the highway, he indicates the lengthening intervals between passing cars with the spread of his long arms. "There's a gap, a time gap," he says.

The houses in Gilchrist used to be painted a uniform "Gilchrist brown," but in recent years, many of the homes have gotten new metal roofs and vinyl siding. Most are small and serve as vacation homes.
But he and others in Gilchrist and neighboring Crescent see a glimmer deep in the pine forests that cradle their communities, a proposal that would restore jobs, attract families, expand the tax base and revive businesses up and down the highway. It's called Crescent Creek Resort, and, as envisioned, it would have 1,965 homes, 785 overnight rentals, a pair of golf courses and multiple other features spread across more than 5,500 acres.

Klamath County approved the resort's master plan in November, just as the economy tanked. The land owner, Cascade Timberlands of Bend, now says the resort is on hold, but insists the plan remains sound.

The area's residents surely hope they are right.


Town needs resort's jobs

R.D. Buell, thick-chested and country-chatty, has lived here 42 years and is the resort's unofficial tour guide.
As district manager of the Walker Range Fire Patrol Association, he has intimate knowledge of the forests surrounding Gilchrist and Crescent and the logging roads that crisscross the area.

Bouncing in an SUV past the mill, now run by Interfor Pacific of British Columbia, Buell sniffs at the quality and quantity of its log piles. "Toothpicks," he scoffs. Running full bore, the mill would chew up those logs in about three weeks, he says.

Seventy workers were laid off in March, and word around town is that only 15 salaried employees, management types, are working at the mill now. In the early 1990s, counting mill crews, loggers and truck drivers, the mill employed about 300.

The area desperately needs the resort's jobs and investment, Buell says.

"This is pretty well a depressed area," he says. "If north Klamath County is going to survive, we need this."

The fire patrol association also favors the plan because it calls for a 3,600-acre wildfire and wildlife management area at the resort's northern edge. The acreage would be commercially thinned of timber and vegetation, reducing the fuel load and the threat of a catastrophic fire, Buell says.

Fire Chief Kyle Kirchner says the property value increases caused by resort development would help his district, which protects a 20-square-mile area and provides ambulance service for 140 square miles.

"This would double our tax base," he says.


School losing students

At Gilchrist School, Principal Kevin McDaniel says the long decline of the timber industry and the recent mill layoffs have hit families hard.
The school once had 500 students in kindergarten through high school but is down to 238, McDaniel says. "Enrollment's dropped like a rock."

The school, built as a Public Works Administration project in 1939, is testimony to the mill's past influence. Wood panels gleam throughout the building. In the gym, thick, polished planks provide bench seating for spectators. The Gilchrist family provided money to build a track.

But the economy's drop has left a proud community hanging its hopes on the resort, McDaniel says. "It's been such a free fall," he says. "The result is less kids, less enrollment, less funding."

Terri Anderson, who runs a property management business in Gilchrist, says the town's restaurant is closed two days a week, the market is down to one employee in addition to the owners, and the motels rarely have guests.

The resort, she says, "will change the dynamic of the community -- change it for the better."

The development delay is disappointing but understandable, Anderson says.

Cascade Timberlands is a subsidiary of Fidelity National, a title company. It is committed to building the resort, says Linda Swearingen, a former Deschutes County commissioner and Sisters mayor hired as a consultant on the project. But for now, "the project is on hold until the economy turns around," she says.

The company is looking for a resort developer to partner with, she says, and calls the community's reception outstanding.

The resort is intended to attract vacationers from the Willamette Valley, Swearingen says, and the project's size allows it to offer more amenities. In addition to golf, the resort would have fly-fishing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, tennis, swimming, bike and walking trails, a lodge and a restaurant, according to Cascade Timberlands' application with Klamath County.

"They've certainly done a lot of market research and analysis," Swearingen says of the company. "But when the economy ground to a halt, all that research has just been put on the back burner."


Founding family

Mary Geales Ernst is the keeper of Gilchrist's history. Her parents, Frank and Mary Gilchrist, started the mill and gave the town its name.
At 82, Ernst is white-haired, upright and retains a trace of the drawl she brought with her when the Gilchrist family arrived from Mississippi in 1938.

Her home, still painted "Gilchrist brown," looks out on the lake formed when they dammed the Little Deschutes River to make a log pond for the mill across the way. She was married on the yard that slopes toward the lake, as was her daughter. Another daughter drowned in the lake when she was 18 months old. Her son, Gil, lives next door.

At one time Gilchrist was nicknamed "Brown Town," and the houses were painted on schedule every five years. The mill's powerhouse provided electricity. The town's children made their own fun, and if there were social advantages to being the founders' daughter, young Mary never saw them.

Ernst is frankly disappointed in the way things have turned out. The family sold the operation in 1991 to Crown Pacific, which went bankrupt. The Gilchrist company homes were sold off in 1997; Interfor Pacific took the mill, and Cascade Timberlands took the pines.

The town was left with its hopes, and no one knows how things will turn out.

"No idea. It scares me right now," Ernst says. "If the resort would go in, that would help everybody."

-- Eric Mortenson; [email protected]
 

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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
County seeks contractors for Highway 99 project
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Tuesday, May 26, 2009
BY DJC STAFF The Portland Daily Journal of Commerce

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


A road project along state Route 99E has been opened for bid.
The project will construct improvements to 99E from milepost 13.8 to 15.2, in Clackamas County. Work includes removing existing guardrails, walks and driveways, installation of sloped end sections, performing cold-plane pavement removal, constructing HMAC paving, installing guardrails, pavement markings and signs and other work.
The project is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $1 million. The bid date is June 4 at 9 a.m.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Despite slowdown, report shows downtown has economic promise
POSTED: 01:33 PM PDT Thursday, May 21, 2009
BY SAM BENNETT The Portland Daily Journal of Commerce

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


(Portland, Ore)

The Portland Business Alliance on Thursday released a report shows that while the real estate market has slowed dramatically, downtown Portland remains attractive because of its investments in urban renewal, its multimodal transportation system and generally inexpensive development cost in comparison to other major West Coast cities.
The annual development-redevelopment report tracks construction projects in Portland's central city.
"Portland has been very smart and strategic in its development efforts," said Ron Beltz, chair of the Portland Downtown Services, Inc. board of directors. "Our transportation system, use of urban renewal dollars and the many public/private partnerships between business and government have created a vibrant central city, which helps us weather this economic storm better than other cities."
One project listed in the report as recently completed is the Hotel Modera and the opening of the Nel Centro restaurant. David Machado, chef/owner of Nel Centro, was attracted to the property because of the recent public investment in this part of downtown and the property's location next to MAX's new green line.
For more information on the report go to http://www.portlandalliance.com.
 

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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Transit bridge design not finalized
TriMet hires Donald MacDonald Architects for work on Willamette River Crossing
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Thursday, May 28, 2009
BY SAM BENNETT
Portland Daily Journal of Commerce


AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center

Although the Willamette River Crossing may not look like what people expected after initial designs were released to the public, it will still be a “signature bridge,” according to Mary Fetsch, TriMet communications director.
TriMet last year hired Boston bridge designer Miguel Rosales to perform a bridge study to determine what type of bridge could accommodate light rail, pedestrians and bicyclists. The bridge will be between the Marquam and Ross Island bridges.
Rosales’ elaborate renderings and popular wave frame bridge concept led some to believe that TriMet would use one of his designs for the bridge. Fetsch said Monday that was not the case.
After Rosales finished his work, TriMet then issued a request for qualifications for the bridge designer and hired Donald MacDonald Architects. The firm was selected over Rosales after this RFQ.
“Miguel’s work is done and his contract is over and we are moving to the next phase,” said Fetsch. “We were looking for that next level of expertise.”
Rosales’ design called for a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge, but Fetsch said TriMet wants to also look at a “refined cable-stayed” bridge.
Principal Donald MacDonald, who has 40 years of bridge design experience, said his firm will look at the two types of bridges TriMet has selected. “We’re just beginning the (design) process,” he said.
Fetsch said the Willamette River Bridge Advisory Committee will analyze cost estimates prepared by National Constructors Group, an independent cost estimator. “They were brought in to say what this will cost from the ground up to build this bridge,” she said.
MacDonald said he sees Rosales’ role as a preliminary one – to explore bridge types, but not to design the final product.
Rosales said he does not have a patent on his design for the hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge. He said TriMet has the legal right to use his concept in the next design phase. But he said if the design is changed considerably during the next phase he would not allow his name to be associated with the bridge.
That discussion, however, is jumping the gun because TriMet has not decided on a bridge type yet, he said.
TriMet looked at one of Rosales’ ideas – a wave frame bridge – and decided it was “more expensive and with a lot of unknowns and risks associated with it,” Fetsch said.
After studying the bridge types and reviewing their cost estimates, the Willamette River Bridge Advisory Committee then will make a recommendation to a steering committee, which will advise TriMet on which bridge option to proceed with.
MacDonald said he will design a “landmark bridge” that combines “art and science.” He said he will seek input from the community to discover what it wants from the bridge.
 

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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Baseball stadium, Live! district may join Rose Quarter

Plan to bring MLS to Portland may include replacement of Memorial Coliseum
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Tuesday, March 24, 2009
BY SAM BENNETT

As Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson pursues his goal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland in 2011, plans for the Rose Quarter are still a work in progress.
Paulson last week received approval from MLS to begin the franchise in Portland, on the condition that his company, Shortstop LLC, and the city forge a partnership to renovate the Timbers’ stadium, PGE Park.
The $124 million deal includes moving Paulson’s baseball team, the Portland Beavers, to a new stadium in the Rose Quarter.
“The baseball stadium is a huge space eater,” said J.E. Isaac, senior vice president for business affairs for the Portland Trail Blazers. “The size of the stadium means there are only a couple places to put it.”
The challenge may be finding room for the new stadium and a Live! district that the Blazers have proposed to co-develop in the Rose Quarter. The Live! district would be a destination entertainment district with retail and restaurants that would attract visitors to the Rose Quarter during Blazers and Beavers games, but also on days and nights when there are no games.
In one scenario, the entertainment district could replace the Blazers’ 65,000-square-foot office building. In that scenario, the Beavers’ stadium would replace Memorial Coliseum. In another scenario, the new entertainment area could use the shell of Memorial Coliseum, which would be reconfigured from a large sports/entertainment venue into the Live! multi-use venue, and the Beavers stadium would have to be in another area of the Rose Quarter.
The Live! district proposal is based on a development approach by the Baltimore-based Cordish Co. Cordish has developed and planned entertainment venues called Daytona Live! and Philly Live!, that include restaurants and casinos. The company was also behind Baltimore’s Power Plant Live! – the redevelopment of two vacated blocks into an entertainment district near the city’s Inner Harbor.
“It’s critical to have the Live! block immediately adjacent to the Rose Garden and as close to the Convention Center as it can be,” said Isaac.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard said the Cordish proposal “is a good starting point.”
However, he added that he wants to “better understand the Cordish model. It needs to be an approach that really reflects Portland. I’m not sure the Kansas City or Los Angeles model really translates to Portland.”
He said the Live! district should focus on attracting local businesses, such as the McMenamins pub and brewery chain.
“We need to take a look at the entire [Rose Quarter] site and make a decision about what works best,” Leonard added.
Blake Cordish, vice president of development for the Cordish Co., said his company would not use a cookie-cutter approach for the Rose Quarter district and that he is “committed to developing a world-class project that reflects Portland’s unique and creative culture.
“The vision of the partnership is to create a district that embodies the principles of sustainable development and that is authentic to Portland,” Cordish said. “It is not appropriate to use any of our existing projects as examples except from an overarching commitment to our quality and dedication to long-term ownership. The ultimate vision for the Rose Quarter and the timing of development depends on many factors, including input from the Portland community and reaching an agreement with the city.”
The Live! block could have restaurants, clubs, a 2,500-seat music venue, boutique hotel and a “Nike experience” area, Isaac said. That would be phase one, and in phase two the development could add a residential component and office space.
Isaac said Blazers management first learned of Cordish when the company responded to a request for proposals several years ago to manage the Rose Garden. In the intervening years, he said Cordish had “perfected” the Live! concept, and the Blazers initiated contact with Cordish about bringing it to the Rose Quarter.
“When you do something like this you have to have gravitational pull,” said Isaac, referring to the right blend of entertainment and restaurants. “It’s got to have its own draw, separate from the (Rose Garden) or (Beavers) stadium that it’s adjacent to.” Earlier attempts at having restaurants near the Rose Garden failed because they could not attract people to the area on non-game days, Isaac said.
Whatever the mix of restaurants and other activities, Isaac said the Live! block would use “cutting-edge sustainability principles.” He said “a big portion” of the block’s energy should be created on-site through the use of solar panels or wind turbines.
Though the economy is in a recession, Isaac said it’s important to begin planning now. “By the time we would be leasing (Live! space), I’m hoping we’ll be in a new business cycle,” he said.
 

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Northwest Photo King
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
May 5, 2009
Astoria bridge paint job will take 2 years, $20M

(The Astoria-Megler Bridge spans across the Columbia River at 4.2 miles.)
ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — The Astoria-Megler Bridge connecting Oregon and Washington is going to get a new paint job, a $20 million project that will take 2 1/2 years — with both states splitting the costs.

The 4.1-mile bridge was last painted 20 years ago, with a touchup in 1994.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
5/27/2009 12:08:00 PM

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


Astoria grants Holcom a permit extension
Hotel developer allowed more time; planning commission looks at wind turbines within city limits

By SANDRA SWAIN
The Daily Astorian

Astoria developer Floyd Holcom was granted a one-year permit extension Tuesday from the Astoria Planning Commission for the four-story riverfront hotel he and his partners plan to build between 38th and 39th streets and between the Riverfront Trolley tracks and Lief Erickson Drive. The Commission also considered a city code interpretation that will govern the siting of wind turbines within the city limits.

After a public hearing on Holcom's request, the commission voted in favor of extending the permit for a variance, which allows Holcom and his Portland partners, doing business as Pier 38 Marina & RV Park LLC, to construct a building that will have varying heights between 36 feet and 48 feet. Holcom needed the variance because the maximum height limit for the property, which is now zoned Tourist-Oriented Shoreland, is 28 feet.

To the west of the hotel site, across the 38th Street right-of-way, is the former Lovvold Trailer Court. The property is now owned by Holcom. To the east are the Cannery Loft Condominiums and the Astoria Business Park.

During the public hearing, Holcom said the delay in getting hotel construction under way stemmed from his insistence that the hotel's exterior be appropriate to Astoria rather than a "cookie-cutter" Hampton Suites. That has been a challenge for the architects and engineers, he said.

A letter from a neighbor objected to the permit extension but no one spoke in opposition during the public hearing. The vote was 5 to 0. Voting in favor were Commission President Bruce Conner and commissioners Tryan Hartill, Al Tollefson, McLaren Innes and Annie Oliver. Commissioner Mark Cary was absent and Commission Vice President Zetty McKay did not cast a vote or participate in the discussion because Holcom is the landlord for her coffee shop business at Pier 39 and it would have been a conflict of interest for her.

The Commission also held a public hearing on a request from Western Community Energy LLC for a code interpretation applying to wind turbines within the city limits of Astoria. Dealing with wind turbine projects is a new issue for the Planning Commission, and City Planner Rosemary Johnson said a proposed turbine project, which was not identified, is looking at two turbines 60 and 120 feet tall. In general, turbine heights vary depending on the model, amount of wind available and energy to be produced and can range from 40 to 120 feet tall for residential applications to 250 feet tall or more for commercial applications. Johnson said wind turbines don't clearly fit within identified classifications of uses allowed in each of the city's zones.

The issues under consideration by the Commission Tuesday were whether a wind turbine is a "similar use" to a utility, which includes towers, facilities and lines for communication and power transmission, and whether wind turbines are subject to height and number limitations.

The Commission voted unanimously to go along with the interpretation recommended by city staff that wind turbines are similar to utilities and that they are not exempt from building height requirements.

Johnson and Community Development Director Brett Estes said the decision is an interim solution, until the city is able to develop a code for wind turbines. Estes said there have been inquiries for multiple turbines, although the request from Western Community Energy LLC involves just one or two. "There's a need to have a more permanent code in place sometime soon," Estes said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Regional leaders discuss high-speed rail
One speaker: Northwest transportation project needs to be made top priority if it is to move ahead
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Friday, May 29, 2009
BY JUSTIN CARINCI

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


(Amtrak train pulling into Union Station in Portland, Ore.)

The Portland Daily Journal of Commerce

Before his trip to Portland on Wednesday, the mayor of Vancouver, B.C., did what everyone traveling by train between the two cities must do: He stayed overnight in Seattle. And, like most people, Gregor Robertson drove instead of catching the single passenger train to Seattle.
His destination: the opening ceremonies for Cascadia Rail Week, an effort to bring better train service to the region between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene.
Robertson joined other local leaders on a rail field trip that started with a ride on the Amtrak Cascades train between Seattle and Portland on Wednesday morning. After speeches and panel discussions in the Ecotrust Building, the tour continued with a ride on TriMet WES and MAX trains and, somewhat incongruously, a plane ride back to Seattle.
There’s actually no dissonance, said Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port of Portland, reflecting the participatory spirit in the room. The port, which operates Portland International Airport, doesn’t see high-speed passenger rail between Portland and Seattle as a threat.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Wyatt said. “High-speed rail in this corridor would be a terrific addition to our region.”
As for the chances of the United States developing a high-speed rail network that actually would compete with airports, speakers said not to hold your breath. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio dreamed that dream, but conceded that he probably won’t live to see it realized.
“If I could take a train from Washington, D.C., and not get on a miserable airline again, it would be the happiest day of my life,” DeFazio said.
Trains in Spain’s system could cover the distance between Portland and Seattle in 1 hour, 10 minutes, DeFazio said. That’s a great goal, others said – if you define “great” as meaning “the enemy of good.”
Before trains can break 220 mph, however, they need to at least move faster than the current limit of 79 mph – Amtrak’s current ceiling, said Jim Howell, a planner with the Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates. Other countries improved their existing systems instead of making a costly leap straight to super-fast trains.
“They started with … frequent, reliable service,” Howell said. “And, from that, they built ridership, and, from that, they developed high-speed rail.”
If Amtrak trains exceed 110 mph, said Kirk Fredrickson with the Washington Department of Transportation – even if only along certain stretches of the corridor – travel times will improve.
“If we reduce travel times between cities, people are going to come to rail,” Fredrickson said.
Even incremental steps will be difficult to achieve without a serious commitment from a dizzying array of agencies and advocates, other speakers said. And ceremonial agreements like the one Robertson and Portland Mayor Sam Adams signed Wednesday go only so far.
A better regional rail system can’t just be a priority, said Ethan Seltzer, director of Portland State University’s School of Urban Studies and Planning. It needs to be the top priority for the agencies involved – and that means making sacrifices.
Will local governments delay, scale back or even abandon expensive local projects such as the Columbia River Crossing or the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement to make the region’s rail system more effective? Seltzer asked.
“I can’t see that happening yet,” he said afterward. “Until we’re willing to say we’ll do this now instead of something else, we’ll be right back here in 10 to 15 years.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Growers in town
Lane County’s smaller cities launch their own farmers’ markets
BY WHITNEY MALKIN
The Eugene Register-Guard
Posted to Web: Monday, Jun 1, 2009 12:18AM
Appeared in print: Monday, Jun 1, 2009, page A7


(Drain, Oregon is one of the small Oregon towns to have a farmers market.)

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


News: Local: Story
DEXTER — Pam Driscoll lives in a town where the only market is more convenience store than supermarket, and the nearest groceries are miles away. An avid gardener, she craves fresh fruits and veggies, but oftentimes finds produce at local stores is limited.

This summer, she won’t have any problems finding organic offerings grown just miles from her home, as Dexter’s farmers’ market kicks off its first season this month.

Dexter, Drain and Creswell are just some of the smaller communities in Lane County that are launching their own farmers’ markets.

“In a small town like Dexter, we don’t have any real gathering place,” Driscoll explained. “This will provide a place for the community to not only get locally grown produce, but also have a place to meet and greet.”

Once a staple of big cities that drew farmers from outlying areas, now organizers such as Driscoll are reaching out to growers in their own communities.

With low registration fees and loyal clientele, many farmers say they love the atmosphere of the small-town markets.

Kris Woolhouse, of Dorena, sells her organic produce and flowers at the Cottage Grove and Creswell markets, as well as the Lane County Farmers’ Market in Eugene.

While the foot traffic is slower in Creswell and Cottage Grove, she says it’s well worth her while to come.

“The mentality is changing — there is a ton of support in these small towns for local produce,” she said. “I really love all of these small markets that are opening up.”

Five years ago, Woolhouse tried to sell at the Cottage Grove market, and says she faced a number of hurdles.

Since then, market manager Scott Burgwin and Chamber of Commerce Director Marc Bass have made changes — the crucial one being the decision to move the farmers’ market to Wednesday nights, at the same time as Cottage Grove’s Concerts in the Park.

“It’s just got a different feel,” Bass said. “Everyone knows everyone — it’s mostly area people who are coming together every week.”

Making the change to a venue with a larger crowd brought the 10-year-old farmers’ market back to life, Burgwin said.

“We were dying,” he said. “We had to do something different.”

This season, the Cottage Grove market will feature two growers, one of them being Woolhouse’s Ruby & Amber’s Organic Oasis.

But this was Tuesday, so Woolhouse was in Creswell, selling fresh lettuce mix and asparagus, basking in the afternoon sunshine.

The Creswell market just started its second season, after a first year that proved successful, said organizer Elyse Grau.

Currently, the market has five farms represented, but Grau hopes that number will double by the end of the season.

“We’re trying to get vendors close to Creswell — we set a 50-mile radius because of that,” she said. “So far, it’s been great. People are really glad to have the market here and have the option of buying local and fresh as opposed to buying from the megamart.”

Creswell resident Lanie Grace, 31, said she got hooked on the market last year, when a vendor started bringing fresh, locally grown pears.

“They were delicious,” she said. “Now we come once or twice a month.”

In Dexter, Driscoll is starting small — with just three growers.

She’s also set up a consignment booth, so that smaller growers can share the space.

Creswell, Drain and Dexter charge farmers $10 a week for space, which is cheaper than the $30 charged in Springfield and the $25 per week, 4 percent of gross sales and $25 annual membership fee required of vendors in the Lane County Farmers’ Market.

Cottage Grove charges vendors 10 percent of their profits, with a cap of $30. But not all of the growers are professionals.

“We had a kid last year who brought like 50 bags of cherries out of his backyard,” Bass said, laughing. “This young kid sets up his stand and all of a sudden he’s sold out.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s really neat, and that we encourage — people with corn, or whatever they’ve got, can say, ‘Here we are,’ and we’re fine with that.”

In Drain, market coordinator Laurie Phillip says in the first month the market has been open, she’s already seeing close to 200 customers a week.

“There hasn’t been anything like this in the area for a long time,” she said.

“We just wanted a place where the people that grow here could sell here. The result has blown our mind — people love it.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
First phase of Clatskanie center is completed
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Tuesday, June 2, 2009
BY Portland Daily Journal of Commerce STAFF

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


Construction of the first phase of a commercial complex near downtown Clatskanie has wrapped up, according to a report by the Coast River Business Journal.
Clatskanie Town Center’s first structure, a 12,000-square-foot commercial building, features tenants such as Anytime Fitness, Ixtapa restaurant and retailer Discounts & Deals.
The second phase of the project, developed by Seven Oaks Development of St. Helens, will include construction of an 8,000-square-foot building.
The project cost $2.5 million and is located on a two-acre piece of land off of U.S. Highway 30.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Construction wraps up on Bend office project
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Monday, June 1, 2009
BY Portland Daily Journal of Commerce STAFF

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


R&H Construction has wrapped up construction on a new office building in Bend.
The five-story, 84,000-square-foot 360 Bond building is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification. The building features a rooftop eco-garden, alternative fuel vehicle stations and native landscaping.
The ODS Companies has leased space in the building for a dental teaching clinic and administrative offices. Western Title will also be a tenant. The project was designed by GBD Architects and developed by Gerding Edlen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Rivers Condominuims Completed in Salem!


(Rivers Condominiums.)

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center

Salem Business Journal


Rivers Condominiums held their grand opening Friday, May 29 with tours and refreshments.

Congratulations to:
Kevin & Ida Lafky and Riverfront Park, LLC;
Sienna Architecture
Associated Consultants,
Youngman-Locke, Engineering
Gray Purcell, General Contractor
Umpqua Bank, Financing
For tours and information, contact Sperry Van Ness Commercial Brokers at 503-588-0400 or on the web at www. riverscondos.com.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Downtown Bend Welcomes Putnam Pointe
May 19, 2009
SIMON MATHER CBN feature writer (Cascade Business News)

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center

An innovative mixed-use project aptly named after a visionary local citizen is now complete and rising proudly as Bend’s newest downtown landmark.


Putnam Pointe, christened in honor of former mayor George C. Putnam, features a blend of workforce housing - including affordable rentals and for-sale condos - together with ground floor commercial space on the prominent corner of Oregon and Lava adjoining the City’s Centennial Parking Plaza.


The $13.5 million project consists of one below-grade level of parking, one ground level of retail spanning over 8,000 square feet, three levels of residential apartments and one level of condos. There are 33 apartment units and 11 condo units for lease and sale.


The housing units are arrayed around the perimeter of the site with a courtyard occupying the interior. The ground floor common space includes the management offices, a lobby, a resident services facility and a community room.


The five-story flagship building presented a number of interesting design and construction challenges, not least of which were the tightness of the site, the triangular geometry and the need to bore through rock up to 14 feet underground for sub-surface resident parking – all without blasting, which is prohibited in the city’s central core.

Project manager Brendan Warren, of general contractor R & H Construction, said: “There certainly were some interesting dimensions to this assignment, including the amount of rock to get through and the pure logistics of loading and stacking on a zero lot line, in-fill development in the middle of town.

“There was not a lot of room for lifts, and we used a mobile crane instead of a tower crane due to the long, skinny nature of the site and the consequent limits to maneuverability.


“The decision was also made to flag rather than close the surrounding streets to be sensitive to the need to keep public access and business flowing around that central district during construction.


“Through it all, the design, development and construction team worked wonderfully well together, the City and community were cooperative, and I’m proud to say that we brought the project in on time, on-budget and without any worker injury in over 85,000 man-hours - winning safe site award recognition in the process.”


Indeed, the structure was completed two weeks early – receiving a Certificate of Occupancy on April 30 – and had a grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony May 13, attended by parties instrumental in the venture’s successful collaboration.


Project superintendent Lonnie Brant was another key member of the team, bringing experience of working in the downtown hub, including the nearby Post Office and adjoining City parking garage which meant that he has been working in that area “pretty much constantly for the last three years”.
Project architect Douglas Benson, of Portland-based MCM Architects, also commented: “Mixed-use is what is making the economics of development work right now. I think the whole team’s approach maximized the assignment’s potential - for what was essentially previously a surface parking lot, we have packed a lot into this site.


“One of the biggest technical challenges was the underground garage – if we had had to access from the street, it wouldn’t have worked.


“The City was cooperative and we were able to execute access through the existing parking structure. The garage also required substantial extra engineering to support the rest of the structure, and actually extends out under the building almost to the sidewalk, which is quite common in the Portland metro area, but is new for Bend. One of the major issues was just the paperwork to coordinate approvals from all of the relevant authorities involved.”


Benson also alluded to the challenges of working on a site on which everything was perpendicular, commenting: “the City built their parking structure first, so they built it square on the site, leaving us two pieces at angles to work on.


“Essentially, we had a puzzle to fit together, including delivering the minimum number of affordable housing units to make the economics work. We had to meet state tax credit criteria, including mandated minimum unit sizes and lower market rents, which meant a tighter budget as compared to a market-driven project.


“It needed to fit in with the rest of the community and the design and materials took cues from downtown Bend, including a strong exterior masonry theme.


“The ground floor is concrete, with wood floors above and we used materials that reflect a delicate balancing act between durability, attractiveness and affordability.


“I think it was helpful that we had worked well with R & H previously in Bend, on the Eastlake Village apartment project, and collectively I believe we answered the call for something ‘important’ on what is perceived as one of the gateway sites to the City.


“Elements like the curvature and tower help create the appropriate civic presence, and the corner gives the retail commercial space due prominence.”


Leasing agent for the retail units, Scott Gibbs of Lowes Group, said: “This is a unique opportunity for businesses to thrive in an urban mixed-use environment in a vibrant core of downtown.


“Considering the building’s occupants, nearby hotels and surrounding population, there is the beginnings of residential stability to foster a vibrant downtown neighborhood, together with the availability of ample parking in the adjoining City garage.

“There are a variety of floor plan configurations that can be offered, which could include a prime anchor restaurant and other synergistic uses amid an attractive aesthetically pleasing design incorporating a central courtyard and atrium feature.”


Benson also paid tribute to regional housing authority, Housing Works, Executive Director Cyndy Cook as being an early advocate for affordable housing in downtown Bend. She led the efforts a decade ago and after gaining political traction was instrumental in bringing on board private developer partner KemperCo, LLC, which specializes in urban development.


Managing member Tom Kemper has over fifteen years in real estate investment, finance and development experience, including award-winning mixed-use commercial/residential communities.
Community discussion of the need to develop affordable workforce housing began in 2001 with the release of the City of Bend Affordable Housing Task Force’s “Report to the Community”. One of the report’s recommendations was to increase the supply of affordable housing in the city through new construction. After meeting with various community leaders and with the support of the City of Bend, Housing Works developed a plan to construct the workforce housing in the downtown core.


The organizations providing funding for the mixed-use building are the City of Bend, Bend Urban Renewal Agency, Oregon Housing & Community Services, Bank of the Cascades, Enterprise Community Investments, Inc., the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing, Housing Works, KemperCo, LLC, and the Hayden Enterprises Giving Fund.


The project’s namesake, George C. Putnam, was a former mayor of Bend and the publisher and editor of the Bulletin in 1912 and 1913. Scion of a prominent New York publishing family, he was an author, an Arctic explorer, and the promoter and husband of Amelia Earhart. He left Bend to become the private secretary for Governor James Withycombe in 1915. Putnam built an Oregon newspaper empire that included the Medford Mail Tribune and Salem’s Capital Journal, later the Statesman Journal.


Because of the significant impact of this long-awaited mixed-use development will have for future generations, Housing Works and its partners wanted a name for the project that would add meaning to the community and honor Bend’s past generations.


“George Putnam literally shaped Bend and shaped Oregon,” said Laura Cooper, Chair of the Housing Works’ Board. “He brought attention to this region with vision that was amazing for its time. The project has similar ambitions for attracting positive attention to and shaping the future of the community in bold and innovative ways.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oregon renews its support for I-5 crossing
But Legislature still hasn't paid for its share of planning
Friday, June 5 | 10:50 p.m.
BY JEFFREY MIZE
THE COLUMBIAN STAFF WRITER

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


(The Interstate 5 bridge connects Vancouver, Washington, as shown, into Portland, Oregon. It crosses the Columbia River.)


PORTLAND — Oregon remains committed to replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge, despite its Legislature's failure to set aside millions in planning money, the state's top transportation official said Friday.

Matthew Garrett, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, said Gov. Ted Kulongoski, legislative leaders and his state's transportation commission are solidly behind the Columbia River Crossing project.

"We will ripen the project," Garrett told other members of the Columbia River Crossing project sponsors council Friday. "We will move it forward. And one day, we will cut a ribbon on it. Make no mistake about it."

Washington has provided $50 million to pay for ongoing studies and planning, but Oregon has contributed only $15 million.

Kulongoski had proposed an additional $30 million, which would have come close to equalizing the contributions between the two states, but that money wasn't part of the 2009 transportation bill that won legislative approval in Salem, Ore.

Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said following Friday's meeting that she is hopeful the Oregon Transportation Commission will spend its discretionary money on project planning.

Hammond said she is eager to see financial parity to reinforce the partnership between the two states. She used the catch phrase, "Show me the money" to illustrate her point.

Money always will be a central focus in the contentious debate over a bridge-transit-freeway project expected to cost as much as $4.1 billion.

Richard Brandman, Oregon director for the Columbia River Crossing project, broke the project into four pieces: $1.94 billion for freeway improvements, $1.2 billion for a replacement bridge, $850 million for light-rail transit and $100 million for cyclist-pedestrian paths.

The project is seeking $400 million in federal highway funds and another $750 million in federal transit funds, which leaves $2.9 million to be covered by the two states and bridge tolls, Brandman said.

With such a large number remaining, crossing officials already are looking at ways to scale back the project.

Possible changes include reusing existing infrastructure, such as the freeway bridges connecting Hayden Island with the rest of Portland, changing the design speed for freeway ramps, reducing shoulder widths and phasing in portions of construction.

"We are hoping through this exercise that we can save hundreds of millions of dollars, and that's a pretty big goal," Brandman said. "We want to put a menu of options on the table for you."

Jeffrey Mize: 360-735-4542 or [email protected].
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
University unveils education complex remodel

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


BY GREG BOLT
The Eugene Register-Guard
Posted to Web: Sunday, Jun 7, 2009 12:09AM
Appeared in print: Sunday, Jun 7, 2009, page A7


The University of Oregon’s southwest corner has traded up.

Gone are the 40-year-old “temporary” trailers and cramped, converted houses used by the College of Education. In their place is the UO’s newest and most technologically advanced building on what is now a much sharper corner.

The university officially will unveil the new 67,000-square-foot HEDCO Education Building at a grand opening ceremony Thursday. Work on the building, and a major renovation of the rest of the College of Education, is nearly complete, wrapping up a $50.5 million project and the latest product of the UO’s ongoing construction boom.

Following close behind the addition and renovations to the adjacent School of Music, the new education complex has reshaped the southwest campus. The new building, landscaped parking area and new entrances off Alder Street and East 18th Avenue provide a visual and physical connection to the rest of campus that was lacking before.

More important, though, is what’s inside. The new building takes the UO’s nationally ranked 1,300-student education program out of an antiquated space and makes it one of the more technologically advanced education facilities in the country, said College of Education Dean Michael Bullis.

“This gives us the opportunity to have a building that does justice to the profession of education,” he said on a recent tour of the new building.

The building is bathed in wireless computer signals. It has flat-panel monitors not just in every classroom but in almost every conference room, study area and meeting space throughout its three floors.

A student learning commons offers a drop-in center where students can work on projects, brainstorm with classmates or get tutoring help. A high-tech conference room gives faculty and students a place where they can work with people anywhere in the world through video conferencing.

Bullis said the technology will make teaching and learning more effective. It will allow students to practice teaching techniques in the classroom and then watch themselves on a monitor.

The building is environmentally advanced, with natural daylight, solar hot water and landscaping that channels rainwater through gardens and bioswales. It is 30 percent more energy efficient than state code requires and 10 percent more than the baseline required by the university.

But what’s appreciated as much as the bells and whistles is just the extra space. The new building increases the college’s square footage by two-thirds, allowing programs that had been scattered all over Eugene to return to campus and giving students space to work and study together.

Assistant Dean Andrea Wiggins said that’s a huge improvement from a building that was so small people practically had to work standing up.

“Honestly, there wasn’t even a place for students to sit down,” she said.

The project also included a major renovation of the existing education buildings, which included the old University High School building and a 1980 addition, as well as improvements to the Clinical Services Building. Bullis said that work was long overdue and has made as much of a difference as the new construction.

“As nice as the new building is, the remodeling is just as nice,” he said. Bullis kept his office in the older building.

The project came in on time and under budget, which allowed general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis to do more remodeling on the older buildings than expected, Bullis said. More than half of the funding came through nearly 600 private donations, including the $10 million lead gift from the HEDCO Foundation.

The California-based foundation supports scientific and medical research and social welfare projects. Its leader is a graduate of the UO education program.

The Legislature provided $19 million through bonds that will be repaid from the state’s general fund.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Effort under way to improve Oregon City business development
Main Street group is working to spur revitalization in Portland suburb’s downtown

POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Monday, June 8, 2009
BY TYLER GRAF

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center

Portland Daily Journal of Commerce


Aaron Breniman sees plenty of promise in downtown Oregon City. The Verdict, a bar Breniman co-owns with Ryan Smith, opened three weeks ago as city officials seek to attract more businesses and rehabilitative efforts to the downtown core.
“In order to get people down here, we wanted to create a place we’d like to go to,” Breniman said. “The city needs more investment like that from private developers.”
That investment is something that has mostly eluded Oregon City for close to a decade. But the city’s established business community has recently rallied behind a new group dedicated to bringing more businesses to the city’s downtown.
Last week, consultants working for the City of Oregon City Main Street Group, part of the state’s greater Oregon Main Street program, released a preliminary report on the problems facing downtown Oregon City. Plenty of work needs to be done in the city’s worn-out center, according to the report. Included were harsh statements such as “we show (our) ugly side to U.S. 99” and the downtown “looks dirty & uninviting.”
The report said the No. 1 priority should be to make the city a place where people want to visit for fun and activities.
But redevelopment has happened at a slow clip, Breniman said, adding that serious efforts have moved forward only in the last four years. But he has high hopes for the future, and sees tangible changes coming from the Main Street group.
Lloyd Purdy has been the manager of the Main Street group since February, and previously served in a similar position in Cortland, N.Y. He says a top priority for Clackamas County is to help downtown Oregon City reemerge as a hub of activity.
Purdy and Breniman agreed that the city should create incentives for private development.
“We have some great new buildings we need to put to new uses,” Purdy said. “We see a range of buildings that need a lot more love before they can become tenantable.”
Amber Holveck, director of the Oregon City Chamber of Commerce, said that despite some blight, some bright spots have arisen.
For one thing, three new businesses, including The Verdict, have moved to downtown Oregon City since the beginning of the year. That’s a positive sign in a recession, she said.
“We want it to have a diverse business mix, seven days a week, that attracts people downtown,” she said. “Ultimately, we want more live-work, mixed-use places, so people can live close to downtown.”
Holveck said that will require dedication from developers and business owners, and that it’s an important long-term goal for the city as it focuses on increasing its property values.
That’s why Breniman considers his bar such a smart investment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
More condos selling in South Waterfront District
Brokers are optimistic about potential for the developing Portland neighborhood
POSTED: 04:00 AM PDT Friday, June 12, 2009
BY SAM BENNETT (Portland Daily Journal of Commerce)

(Portland's Southern Waterfront Skyline)

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


Atwater Place in Portland’s South Waterfront neighborhood opened about a year ago, just as the economy was turning south and fewer people were buying condominiums.
The 214-unit, upscale waterfront condo tower fell victim to the effects of a credit crisis, rising unemployment and the bursting of the real estate bubble.
Atwater units are still not selling as fast as originally anticipated, but Todd Prendergast, a principal broker with Realty Trust, said he’s been encouraged by buyers’ interest in the tower and other South Waterfront buildings in the last two months.
“There is an impression that all condo sales have slowed down throughout the urban market, and the South Waterfront has been viewed as part of that,” said Prendergast. “The reality is we’ve seen a fairly significant uptick in overall traffic activity and interest, and an upswing in actual sales” in South Waterfront.
Eight Atwater units have sold in the last month, compared with a rate of about one or two per month over the winter. The building is about 30 percent sold.
“In the last two and a half months we’ve seen the market increase in activity,” said Prendergast. “We’re seeing sales concentrated in the $500,000-and-below point, and $800,000 and above.”
Prendergast acknowledged that some of the activity is normal for this season, as buyers start to emerge after winter. And some of the activity could also be attributed to historically low interest rates, which in April and May dipped to approximately 4.5 percent for a 30-year mortgage.
While rates have shot up about nearly 1 percent in the last few weeks to around 5.5 percent for a 30-year mortgage, Prendergast said 5.5 percent is “still extremely competitive.” The spike in interest rates could also be spurring people to make the decision to buy before rates go higher, he said.
Prendergast, whose company is responsible for selling all new units in three South Waterfront buildings – the Meriwether, the John Ross and Atwater Place – said there are several units available for sale in the Ross Tower and one in the Meriwether that are foreclosures. He said Realty Trust has sold all the new units in the Meriwether, 190 of about 300 in the John Ross and 60 of the 214 in Atwater Place.
He said another factor that could be spurring sales in South Waterfront is lower prices. He said that drops have been as much as 30 percent from the original asking prices – as much as $300,000 for some units.
Stacy Cooper, a broker with the Cooper Team, which specializes in condo and townhouse sales, said there are “some screaming good deals” in South Waterfront in brand new and re-sale units. “They have been making some pretty steep price reductions there,” she said.
Cooper said buyers who envisioned making quick profits by “flipping” South Waterfront condos – purchasing them before they were built and selling upon completion – probably added inventory to the South Waterfront condo market.
“The problem (in the South Waterfront) is that it is half-finished,” she said, referring to the long-term build-out of the neighborhood. “It doesn’t have a sense of people being vested in it as their community. There’s a lot of vacancies in those units.”
Yet she said “there’s a limited amount of waterfront in this city.” The area also has an active neighborhood association, waterfront trails and a handful of cafes and restaurants.
“People who bought there for the long term are going to be golden,” she said, “because it’s a great place to live.”
Richard Voss, a principal broker with Century 21, said South Waterfront is upscale like the Pearl District, but does not have the hustle and bustle at the street level. “It’s nice to be down there, where it’s kinda quiet,” he said. “It’s not so full of people on the streets.”
Prendergast said the neighborhood has about 1,000 residents, including apartment dwellers.
As more move there, the neighborhood will continue to forge its identity, he said. “The connection to nature is huge,” he said. “That connection is something that can’t be duplicated in town.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Oregon unemployment No. 2 in nation, again
by Richard Read, The Oregonian / OregonLive.com
Friday June 19, 2009, 9:01 AM


Joe's in Bend, oregon going out of business.

AJM STUDIOS.NET Northwest Development News Center


For a third month, Oregon registered the nation's second-highest jobless rate, at 12.4 percent in May, behind only Michigan.

This time, Oregon unemployment jumped more in a year than in any other state, increasing 6.7 percentage points from May 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

Michigan, with 14.1 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment in May, logged the nation's second-highest jump, at 5.9 percentage points.

Following Michigan and Oregon in joblessness were Rhode Island and South Carolina, at 12.1 percent each; California, 11.5 percent; Nevada, 11.3 percent; and North Carolina, 11.1 percent. Six more states and the District of Columbia recorded double-digit unemployment rates.

The seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate rose from 8.9 percent in April to 9.4 percent in May -- 3.9 percentage points higher than a year earlier.

In May, the West reported the highest regional jobless rate, 10.1 percent, followed by the Midwest, 9.8 percent. The last time any U.S. region surpassed 10 percent was September 1983, when the Midwest hit 10.1 percent.
 
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