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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

There's such a fine line between parody and promotion

company now moving on North Portland specializes in what it calls the "knockdown rebuild." From the company's website: With knockdown rebuilds, "don't forget the added benefit of keeping your family in the same location with your local supermarket, schooling and childcare, gyms, family and friends"! Gosh, all those pluses add up especially when disregarding the rest of the equation: environmental irresponsibility, or loss of neighborhood character and history, and solar access, and additional toll engendered by this style of development.

The outfit's principal business address is a UPS Store in Nevada, and the local manager is Brent Keys. Keys's contractor's license has been suspended in the past; he's also been sued for construction defects by owners of 95 condominiums he built in Benton County—in short, just the kind of guy to join the rest of the pirates working over Portland's treasured neighborhoods.

Developers call it a "knockdown rebuild"; the city calls it a "remodel."
Either way, sending well-crafted affordable homes of old-growth materials
to the landfill is a shame in a city that touts an ever "greener" reputation.
According to the Portland Business Journal's most recent listing of the busiest 25 builders working in Portland, just 2 of them are from Portland. So that means the city where the profit is reaped likely doesn't get an economic benefit from its own significantly contributing resource—modest affordably priced homes in well-scaled neighborhoods with open space and mature urban tree canopy. Neighborhoods lose all these things and more when this type of builder comes around.

With few regulations for demolition, deconstruction, or hazmat control—much less guidelines for new development—Portland continues to be ripe for the taking, pushing lower-income families out of thriving, established communities along with neighborhood character and history. For neighbors the give keeps getting bigger, and the getting more painful.

For the boots-on-the-ground perspective, watch the movie by United Neighborhoods for Reform supporter Fred Lifton that contrasts neighbors' losses and developers' gains. The before and after pictures mostly show sites in Northeast Portland, but many neighborhoods citywide have experienced the trash-and-build style of development. If developers weren't so busy doing "knockdown rebuilds" of viable existing housing, imagine the good, desired projects that could occur in more neglected parts of the city.

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