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Old Posted Jan 22, 2007, 3:44 PM
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Portland Infill | Northeast Portland

A Bridgeport Village on N.E. Broadway?
by Kennedy Smith
01/22/2007

A six-acre site between the Hollywood and Lloyd districts will either become a cornerstone development or just another corner project. But its fate depends on the level of understanding among the city of Portland, Seattle-area architects and developers, and Vancouver-based Albina Fuel Co.

Albina Fuel owns the property at the corner of 33rd Avenue and Broadway, at the entrance of Interstate 84 and across the street from two gas stations.

The site is a dead area – a concrete- and dirt-filled, vacant expanse – between the Hollywood District, currently going through development changes of its own, and a strip of new, Pearl-style restaurants and shops on Broadway.

The project planned for the site would be erected in three phases. The first phase encompasses the block bound by Weidler and Broadway streets and 32nd and 33rd avenues, with 168 units of housing, some live/work units at street level and about 40,000 square feet of commercial space planned plus 90 commercial parking spaces and a 210-stall residential parking garage.

Phase II would see 151 housing units on the block bound by Weidler and Halsey streets and 32nd and 33rd, with live/work units on the ground level and underground residential parking. A third phase has not yet been designed.

But the development – now just a series of renderings – has some Portlanders concerned because it doesn’t necessarily conform to guidelines set by the city.


Central-city zoning doesn’t apply

“Neither the requirements of Title 33 for land divisions nor the Central City Fundamental Design Guidelines apply to this site,” said Joseph Readdy, an architect with the Portland office of Mahlum Architects and a member of the American Institute of Architects Downtown Urban Design Panel.

Title 33 is the city’s zoning code, adopted in 1991. It sets regulations for new developments, zone changes, land-use reviews and other administrative procedures.

“If (Albina site developers) were doing a land division or land-use action, they would be required to meet Title 33 in terms of conductivity, but they’re not concerned about that,” Readdy said. “The standards are explicit, but they don’t have to meet them.”

That’s because the site lies outside the central city, to which Title 33 applies.

Spokane-based SRM Development, site owner Albina Fuel and Seattle-based designer Runberg Architecture Group are performing all the changes that the city and neighborhood associations have requested, Readdy said.

“But they’re not going beyond that.”

The problems that Readdy and others have with the site’s design are threefold: the large-scale block structure doesn’t conform to Portland’s signature small-scale blocks like those found in the central city; the site “diminishes the quality of the public realm,” meaning it wouldn’t fit with its surroundings; and a pedestrian path allows for little directional choices for walkers.

The design panel found this last design element troubling, Readdy said.

“Because of the changes in grade (the site is on a slope leading toward the highway), what they’re doing is creating structured roof terraces over the parking garage and creating pedestrian access over the roof terrace and then going through the parking structure in order to get to the ground level,” he said.

But a representative of site owner KAL LLC, a corporation comprising developers and family members of Albina Fuel owners, said the development group is doing more than enough to answer the concerns of citizens.

Jeff Arntson, operations manager at Albina and a stakeholder with KAL, said he has responded to directions from the Portland Design Commission to consider refinements to the material palette, including using longer-lasting construction materials and replacing Hardie siding (a fiber cement material typically used on single-family homes) with a brick and stucco façade.

Brian Sweeney, an architect with Runberg Architecture Group, said the Albina Fuel site development would be the firm’s first project in Portland. However, Sweeney lives in Portland, and he said he knows enough about the site to be its project manager and designer.

“The design team has pretty good knowledge of Portland because it’s close-by,” he said. “The general environment is similar to Seattle in terms of weather, the ages of people in the towns and the cities’ general architecture.”

He said he and the development team spent more than a year researching the neighborhood before beginning the design process.


Retaliation

by relocation?

Albina Fuel moved from Portland to Vancouver in November 2005 because, Arntson said, “we were trying to get off that property to develop it. Parking trucks there was not the highest and best use of the property, and we had operations in Vancouver since 1968.”

Albina’s new headquarters is now within 12 blocks of one of its major operations.

But since the move, rumors have circulated that Albina’s decision to pack up and move to Washington was driven by more than a desire to increase efficiency; some say Albina grew frustrated with Portland’s regulations for developing the site and retaliated by moving across state lines.

“There are a lot of people who said things to advance their own agendas and, to be quite honest, we didn’t feel we needed to dispel any rumors,” Arntson said. “The word frustration comes into it when working with the city of Portland.”

Harrison Pettit, president and co-chairman of the Sullivan’s Gulch Neighborhood Association, said his group and other surrounding neighborhood associations are “generally supportive” of the development and have made some recommendations to which the developers have responded.

“We view this as a very significant development, as it’s almost a gateway development of the upper Broadway corridor,” he said. “We worked with developers and wanted to be supportive so that it would be developed in the right manner.”

But Readdy said the “gateway project” label is misleading.

“The auto-dominated character effectively places the character of the development into a more suburban model – maybe like Bridgeport (Village) or (The Streets of Tanasbourne),” he said. “The way the site is developed, and the inability of pedestrians to circulate around and through the site, make it much more of an urban cul-de-sac than a crossroads.”

He said a larger question to ask is whether projects like this one deserve a more comprehensive review, and if so, which criteria should apply.

“It’s a necessary (question) as our city reconsiders the boundaries that comprise the central city,” he said. “So, I’m disappointed for what could have been realized on this site with only a slightly different approach that considered a truly urban design solution. It is a shame that design review is not a tool sufficiently robust to effect good urban design.”

The project will be brought before the Design Commission on Feb. 1.
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Old Posted Jan 22, 2007, 7:15 PM
PDX City-State PDX City-State is offline
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This is very interesting. While I agree that the highest and best use of the property was not its former use, I disagree that a lifestyle center would be it's best future use. Mixed-used pedestrian oriented development in close-in areas is not so much a matter of zoning as it is a matter of taste. People like to live in urban-style developments--and developers that have forsaken this in the past couple of years generally got hit pretty hard in the back pocket. (See Tim Ralston's Riverscape project for an example in how not to develop close-in land; The Rose Garden is another good example of what not to do). Still, the verdict will be out until we see some renderings.

Few inverstors that I know of would use a suburban development as the basis for something far more close-in.
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Old Posted Jan 23, 2007, 7:13 AM
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Man, have the preliminaries on this project been dragging and dragging....I agree, show us some renderings of your ideas guys.

I have a hard time figuring out how this fairly large development could work at this site. It seems like traffic would have a hard time flowing in/out given the proximity of the (busy) traffic light on Broadway and the freeway onramp on 33rd. As far as the pedestrian stuff, I hope they make a good effort on that front, but let's face it, it's not exactly a pedestrian paradise over there right now.

Time will tell, I suppose, whether this project is viable.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2007, 4:35 PM
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Design commission approves Albina Fuel project
by Alison Ryan
02/05/2007


The Portland Design Commission on Thursday approved a mixed-use development planned for the former Albina Fuel site in Northeast Portland.

Commissioners unanimously approved the project, saying the development – the first on Northeast Broadway since the Fred Meyer project – could mean more change for the neighborhood.

“I think a lot of people’s antennas are up as to what kind of a benchmark this will set,” new commission chairman Lloyd Lindley said.

The project is proposed to be constructed in two phases. The first would put a mix of commercial space, 168 housing units, parking, and tenant amenity space on the block bounded by Northeast Broadway and Weidler streets and Northeast 33rd and 32nd avenues. The second phase, which would begin construction as the first nears completion, would put 151 housing units, parking, and amenity space on a block bounded by Northeast Weidler and Halsey streets and Northeast 32nd and 33rd avenues.

The appearance Thursday was the design team’s fifth before the commission, architect Brian Sweeney of Runberg Architecture Group said. Commissioners said the final designs responded well to previous interactions.

“You’ve taken our concerns, and the public’s concerns, and put those into your design,” commissioner Paul Schlesinger said.

But a representative from a local neighborhood association said that communication between the development team and the neighbors had been dropped.

“We’ve been seeing a broad brush ... but we had not seen the architectural details,” Lynne Coward of the Sullivan’s Gulch Neighborhood Association said.

That the western façade of phase two, which would Northeast 32nd Avenue, wouldn’t fit in the neighborhood context was a primary concern, Coward said. Commissioners said, however, that they thought the west elevation of phase two was the project’s strongest.

“The neighborhood will likely be surprised at how well that comes out,” commissioner Tim Eddy said.

Commissioner Jeff Stuhr said the project would be a great addition to the neglected Broadway corridor.

“It’s rather fragmented,” he said, “and can look tattered in many places.”

http://www.djc-or.com/viewStory.cfm?...28842&userID=1


also, here is a link to the neighborhood website tracking this development
http://www.sullivansgulch.org/LandUse/Albina.asp
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2007, 6:18 PM
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With all this development in inner Southeast/northeast I really think they should add a light rail stop at either 33ed or 28th. I cant understand why this was never done when the built the line originally.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2007, 8:41 PM
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I agree, and if so, this could become more of a transit oriented development
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2007, 9:04 PM
Drmyeyes Drmyeyes is offline
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From the Alison Ryan story:

"But a representative from a local neighborhood association said that communication between the development team and the neighbors had been dropped.

“We’ve been seeing a broad brush ... but we had not seen the architectural details,” Lynne Coward of the Sullivan’s Gulch Neighborhood Association said.

That the western façade of phase two, which would Northeast 32nd Avenue, wouldn’t fit in the neighborhood context was a primary concern, Coward said. Commissioners said, however, that they thought the west elevation of phase two was the project’s strongest."

It seems important to know more about the above; if its's true, why it occurred, and because or in spite of it, how the neighborhood feeling about the project stands at this point.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 2:07 AM
sirsimon sirsimon is offline
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So, I wonder if anyone has renderings of the "final" (read: approved) project online?
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  #9  
Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 4:00 PM
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Low-rise housing in works for N.E. Broadway
Sullivan's Gulch - The long process for the Albina Fuel site yields a plan for five buildings
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
FRED LEESON
The Oregonian

A vacant five-acre parcel at a major Northeast Portland intersection will become, at long last, the home to 319 housing units and storefront retail space.

After nearly seven years of planning, the Portland Design Commission approved plans last week for a five-building, low-rise development on the old Albina Fuel site, bounded by Northeast Broadway, 33rd Avenue and Interstate 84.

The final plan is a far cry from an earlier proposal that included as many as three towers of eight to 10 stories, which drew heavy opposition from the Sullivan's Gulch Neighborhood Association. The Canada-based tower developer subsequently dropped out.

Lynne Coward, a neighborhood representative, said nearby residents accepted the "broad brush" of the new plan with buildings of three to five stories. But she objected to some design details, such as vinyl windows and the galvanized metal screens for residential decks.

The plan includes 40,000 square feet of retail space, primarily along 600 feet of Northeast Broadway.

"Broadway hasn't seen a significant amount of new development since Fred Meyer went in," said Lloyd Lindley, design commission chairman. "This could set a benchmark for future development there." The triangular site abuts the Hollywood Fred Meyer store, completed in 1989.

"This will be a great addition to the neighborhood," said Jeffrey Stuhr, a design commission member. "It will help repair a much-blighted corner on Broadway."

Family-owned Albina Fuel moved its operations to Clark County several years ago. The Arntson family planned to sell the site to the Canadian developer, but after that plan dissolved, the family created a joint venture with a Spokane developer for the current plan.

Exterior building materials will include brick at the street level, with stucco and lap siding above. A round building at the corner of Broadway and 33rd Avenue will be fitted with aluminum-framed windows.

The developer agreed to upgrade some materials during several meetings with the design commission, but Brian Runberg, a Seattle architect, said the budget couldn't include aluminum windows on all buildings.

The City Council approved a zone change from industrial to residential and commercial but set a limit of 319 housing units in view of neighborhood concerns about traffic and density. Without that limit, city zoning and building rules might have allowed roughly 500 units.

Most of the new residences will be studios or one-bedroom units. Approximately 35 units will have two bedrooms.

Brad Perkins, an Irvington resident, said he wished three-bedroom units could have been included to attract more families, rather than singles and couples. He said families are needed to feed the area's four schools, but many families can't afford house prices in nearby neighborhoods.

Fred Leeson: 503-294-5946; fredleeson@news.oregonian.com
http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/o...220.xml&coll=7
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 4:05 PM
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Quote:
earlier proposal that included as many as three towers of eight to 10 stories, which drew heavy opposition from the Sullivan's Gulch Neighborhood Association. The Canada-based tower developer subsequently dropped out.
NIMBYISM

however:

Quote:
he wished three-bedroom units could have been included to attract more families, rather than singles and couples. He said families are needed to feed the area's four schools, but many families can't afford house prices in nearby neighborhoods.
well maybe he coulda compromised for towers but also got 3 bedroom townhomes included?
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 4:26 PM
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Just because you build 3-bedroom units does not mean that families will buy them. There are numerous examples of projects, even in the burbs, that have included 3-bedroom units but they are just about exclusively bought by singles and couples wanting extra space. Families generally prefer a house with a yard and are willing to go further out to get it. Mark knows first hand about this tradeoff (even without a family) and is considering the burbs for the extra space. Just think if you had a wife and a bunch of crumb crunchers Mark, you would probably be glad to do a little driving to get away from those monsters.

Also, that guy you quoted seems to think that new condos will be a cheaper alternative to houses. This is not usually the case.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 4:50 PM
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Mark knows first hand about this tradeoff (even without a family) and is considering the burbs for the extra space.
I could live in a closet, space isn't really an issue...however, I'm looking for the strongest market and right now it appears the burbs offer me a better value for my first major investment than I have found in the hot and inflated inner-Portland market. I have no real estate training, don't fully understand the housing market, I'm sure, but do think I will have a better chance retaining and growing value right now in a larger place in the burbs, than an inner closet for the same price. If the inner Portland closet was 25% cheaper, I'd take the closet.

A few blocks from that Albina site in both directions, the neighborhoods are upscale...extremely upscale actually. I could see this area attracting wealthy families in 3-bedroom homes.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 5:16 PM
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There are 3 bedroom townhomes all over NW, a very upscale neighborhood, and almost none of them have families living in them.

What makes you think a larger place in the burbs will appreciate more or faster? The strongest market right now is North Portland where there is a 2-3 month supply. The strongest appreciation in the last few years has been Milwaukie/Clackamas, N. Portland and Clark County.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 5:25 PM
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the NW neighborhood has a very different feel than the area of the proposed development on Broadway. The schools and neighborhoods in that part of Portland are established and strong, as well as the community. NW has been a magnet for urban drifters, although I have noticed more and more kids in the Pearl and NW. You can't guarantee that a three bedroom is going to attract a family of four, but you have a better chance of attracting a family with a 3 bedroom than a studio.

I have seriously been considering North. Again, my problem is with the inner-Portland market. It seems risky right now, to me at least.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 5:30 PM
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There are some larger townhomes in the Hollywood area and I don't know of any with families. I'm sure the developers would sell a family two one-bedrooms that they could combine. The problem is that they could probably buy a house cheaper. Again, the issue is that new condos are not cheaper than houses by and large.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2007, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkDaMan View Post

I have seriously been considering North. Again, my problem is with the inner-Portland market. It seems risky right now, to me at least.
I would be wary of the burbs too ... A friend of mine was looking at Pearl lofts around '00 but decided to buy a place in the burbs for more sq ft. for the $. Anyway long story short after a few years he got sick of $300/Mo. in gasoline and no nightlife and decided to move into town. He ended up loosing money on the place because they were building identical tracts just down the street as fast as they can. So in many ways the risk your seeing in downtown with overbuilding is just the same out in the burbs. The other thing to think about is, this will be your home not just an investment, even if it looses a bit of value, will you be happy living there, especially if you have to stay awhile because it went down in value?
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2007, 3:52 PM
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Thanks edge...those are certainly some valid considerations. Finding the right place hasn't turned out to be the quick and easy process it appeared to be on HGTV I was also surprised that the pre-loan was actually the easy part...
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Old Posted Feb 7, 2007, 4:24 PM
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A realtor friend of mine used to give this advise to first time buyers:

You should buy something that you can "stand living in" for 3-5 years, not something that you love for the first house. It is a stepping stone. You should love your third place.
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2007, 7:24 PM
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first phase


and this was the concept before the neighborhood association neutered it
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Old Posted Mar 8, 2007, 7:49 PM
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Too bad, what was wrong with the little tower? Not like there is anybody living anywhere near it. What a great place for a bit of density, except for no MAX stop, but Bway has tons of busses. Oh well.
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