What's happening now

Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The silver lining measures 12 feet wide

With the plywood removed, visibility will improve for all.
If the sidewalk-closure signs are moved to nearby crosswalks, pedestrians can make safer choices.

Overall the project's off to a rough start. Its incomplete and inaccurate sidewalk-closure permit is part of the problem. We're urging the city to revisit and reissue the permit, hoping that the required input of a transportation engineer will help fix the avoidable hazards surrounding the site. Five days in, and a car has already been hit by a subconractor's truck, so be careful out there.

When prompted several months ago, one of the architects who works for the developer's firm couldn't come up with any positive aspects to the building, but there is one. It's that under City Walkway standards, the building must be set back to allow for a 12-foot pedestrian corridor.

a 12-foot setback at Northeast 44th and Fremont
Here's the 12-foot setback in front of the one-story commercial building at Northeast 44th and Fremont where tree planters and steps give walkers a break and create space for impromptu gatherings. Nice. (As an aside, the developer of the contested Fremont megadevelopment, Wally Remmers, has maintained it's not economically feasible to build fewer than four stories, but that 44th-and-Fremont building was put up only a few years ago; it's one-story; and it was built by real estate professionals—almost no one knows the market, i.e., what's "feasible," better than those folks. That building and its tenants contribute to the community, just as we hope Rammers' will.)

So here's what a 12-foot silver lining can look like: People sitting and chatting in front of the 44th and Fremont building, especially on a warm evening; the tenants seem to be thriving, even in a difficult economy. If Remmers' project strikes at the heart of Beaumont, which some allege, then hopefully it can evolve into that healthy role and become an asset to the neighborhood. The 12-foot pedestrian corridor is a start. The challenge is meshing that public space with all the garbage and recycling pickups and deliveries that also have to occur off the front of the building, given the lack of other access.

Let's hope the smart folks at the city and the architects can figure this one out—or get back to the drawing board.

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