|Russellville III moves toward approval
The third phase of the Russellville Commons development appears to be moving toward approval, thanks in some measure to the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association.
The project would be a structure up to four stories tall on the vacant lot south of East Burnside Street and west of Southeast 103rd Avenue and the Russellville II senior housing project. The new building would provide 139 units for senior housing, including 17 memory care units for Alzheimers patients. It would have a central courtyard, a fitness center and a coffee shop that will be open to the general public. At a future time, architect Robert Moreland said, the owners of the complex would probably vacate a block of Southeast 103rd Avenue and build a public plaza between Phases III and I.
Two months earlier, the development team had brought its proposed design before the Portland Design Commission in a design advisory, a voluntary informal review prior to a formal application. At the time commission members noted that the structure, though large by Gateway standards, represents a fraction of what the zoning would allow on the site; the Floor Area Ratio, a measure of density, is 8:1, higher than much of downtown, and the height limit is 150 feet. The commission seemed disappointed that the development team didnt propose something bigger and felt the project was not sufficiently urban. Commission members were also disappointed in the lack of ground-floor activity.
City planner Kristen Minor said that in the intervening time she had discussions with Moreland, resulting in numerous changes. She still did not recommend approval of the project, but her report suggested that with some specific changes, it could get there.
Addressing the projects density, Moreland said, I understand what goals the city is trying to achieve, but the area will evolve over time. The plans call for distinctive communities within Gateway, and we feel were one of these. We really feel that this is a community that works.
Commission member Jeff Stuhrs main concern was the buildings gabled roof, which he considered inappropriate. Moreland replied, This is part of what Russellville is; it fits in with Phase I.
Speaking on behalf of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association, Linda Robinson said, The neighborhood is in support of this project. Even though some people feel it isnt urban enough, its a step forward in the urbanization process. The neighborhood likes the gabled roof. We would like a little more landscaping, and a little more of a plaza between Phases II and III.
Commission members Tim Eddy, Lloyd Lindley and Paul Schlesinger all lined up in favor of the gabled roof; with Schlesinger saying the neighborhood support was decisive for him. Schlesinger also said that vacating 103rd Avenue and putting in a plaza there was something that should be done sooner rather than later.
Russellville tenant Ramona Merritt said she and her husband had moved into the complex with the understanding that it would one day have assisted-living units when they need help to take care of themselves. While commending the city for careful supervision, she said she hoped the expansion would be built. The couple was one of about a dozen residents who were driven to the hearing in the complexs mini-bus.
Russellville Commons Manager Christie Uhlrich said residents were concerned that the expansion had not yet begun. Asked about the significance of the MAX light rail station across the street, she said it was extremely important, that residents used it regularly, and that it was one of the reasons people choose Russellville as a residence.
The commissions biggest concern was the streetscape along Southeast 102nd Avenue. To give the development team a chance to deal with this and other issues, the matter was scheduled for a second hearing on August 16. Eddy told Moreland, If you work with [Minor], youll probably sail right through.
82nd and Broadway housing begins
Innovative Housing, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, will break ground this month on a 58-unit affordable housing project on Northeast Broadway east of 82nd Avenue, spokesperson Julie Garver told the Madison South Neighborhood Association last month. The project will consist of two buildings with one standing four stories high, a 61-space surface parking lot and a play structure open to all children.
In response to questions Garver acknowledged that the traffic on Broadway currently is too heavy and too fast for a local street and that working with existing residents to obtain speed bumps or other traffic-calming devices is something to consider.
Construction will require that some shrubby trees be removed for the project, but the company will save others and plant more, Garver said.
Located one block from the 82nd Avenue MAX station, the new housing project will provide a childcare center and play area available to resident and neighborhood children. As part of the city of Portlands 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, 15 units will be set aside for homeless families who will receive rent assistance, supportive services, and onsite case management.
Innovative Housing has been developing and operating affordable housing since 1984 and currently owns 699 rental units throughout the Portland metropolitan area.
More added to airport advisory group
For weeks, representatives of the Port of Portland said they did not want to overload their Public Advisory Group by putting too many people on it. The PAG will play a key role in providing public input for a planning process to formulate a new master plan for Portland International Airport, and it was important the group not be so big that it would become unwieldy, Port planners said. That was why they could not add more community representatives to the group, even though community leaders said it was weighted in favor of the Port and user groups likely to support them.
All this changed in June when, in response to community concerns and over Port objections, the Portland City Council added two additional seats for neighborhood representatives, to be selected by the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement and an environmentalist. Council members also eliminated a civic seat, to be occupied by someone from the community at large, and substituted a representative from the advocacy group Airport Issues Roundtable (AIR).
At the end of the month, the Port returned and, in an about-face from its previous stance, asked to place three more people on the PAG one each from Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.
Port Director Bill Wyatt denied that the group as originally proposed was not fairly balanced. Regarding the newest change he said, We can stand a group thats larger than optimal...we can continue to debate this, or get on.
Fred Stovel of AIR and the Rose City Park neighborhood said he was satisfied with the new arrangement. Erwin Bergman of Cully, another AIR representative, was less sure. The three newest representatives should have planning backgrounds to help ensure that they represent the broad interest of their counties, he said. They should not be an economic interest that gains by (the operation of) the airport.
Linda Robinson of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association agreed with Bergman. Size has obviously gone out the window.
Commissioner Erik Sten took up the matter and suggested some sort of requirement for the county representatives. You brought this forward to rebalance the committee theres no other reason and you must have had something in mind, he told Wyatt.
Wyatt said it would be appropriate to require some sort of qualifications for these representatives but added, Ill leave it to you to decide how to tell other elected officials where to get off.
In a dissenting view, Courtney Collier of the Columbia Corridor Business Association said he felt the committee was fine as originally structured and that businesses are now underrepresented. Theres an impression that governments and businesses vote as a block, he said. When I mentioned that at our meeting, it took awhile for the laughter to die down.
Mary Helen Kincade of East Columbia said the communities most potentially affected by airport expansion were Hayden Island, East Columbia and Wilkes. Speaking in favor of the larger committee, she said, Theres an old cowboy saying: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
TriMet tree plan not a hit with Hazelwood
TriMet, which was ordered to plant 160 trees at its new Southeast Main Street Station on the I-205 Light Rail project, wants to reduce the number to 108. Last month the company took its case to the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association, where it was not well received.
The new MAX line, scheduled for completion in 2009, will have eight new stations, spokesperson Leslie Hildula said. Each will have public art designed especially for that community. Collectively, the project will create more than five acres of new landscaping, she said.
TriMet does not want to stay with the existing tree plan because so many trees would interfere with visibility on the 630-space parking lot, and this would constitute a safety hazard, TriMet Police Commander Donna Henderson said. Were getting pressure from the (Portland) police, she said. This isnt just TriMet saying, We dont feel like planting trees. Proper visibility on the lot with so many trees would require 60 security cameras, she said.
Hazelwood Vice Chair Linda Robinson wasnt convinced. Every business or agency has safety issues, and they have to plant trees in their parking lots, she said. I have trouble with TriMet asking for an exemption.
Hazelwood Chair Arlene Kimura added that if the request is granted, nearly a third of the trees will be gone.
TriMet engineer Meghan Oldfield said that trees on the periphery of the lot, providing a buffer to nearby neighborhoods, would be retained. Robinson said this was less important than the trees function of keeping the lots asphalt cool.
Jeff Johnson, TriMet landscaping manager, said the trees removed would be planted elsewhere in the station area. Were not planting fewer trees, just spreading them out, he said. He was vague about the alternate locations for the trees.
Hildula said other lot owners could also ask for modifications of code requirements. Standards change over time, she said.
But not yet, Robinson countered.
Robinson also reminded the TriMet personnel that, while agreeing to a surface lot at the Main Station now, Hazelwood called for it to be converted into a parking structure later, in accord with Gateway Urban Renewal goals.
Henderson said TriMet would have new practices in place on the new line to combat crime and public safety issues. As passengers will have to have passes or pre-purchased a ticket at a different stop, there will be no trip ticket dispensers on the station platforms, and only passengers with valid tickets or passes will be allowed on the platforms. Others will be subject to fines. Smoking will also be prohibited on the platforms.
One resident asked what would happen if he stood with his wife on the platform while she waited for a train on her way to jury duty.
Henderson replied, What I hope would happen is that youd say what you just said to me, and [the fare inspector] would say, Thats all right. However, she added, technically the mans actions would be a violation that could subject him to a fine. People are doing all sorts of things, and this is one way to deal with it, she said.
Once again, the good times and what it all stood for brought people to the Rossi Farms Barn Bash. Firm figures were still unavailable at press time, but an estimated 1,300 to 2,000 people contributed $12 each to eat barbecued chicken, beans, salad and strawberry shortcake; spend a little extra for some of the brewski contributed by Widmer Brothers; dance to the music of the Last Rodeo, Larry Wilder and the Stumptown Stars, and No Strings Attached; or watch Tom Mannen and company fool around with guns in Old West duds. In addition to money raised from admission, organizer Joe Rossi said, there were cash contributions from Eastside Foursquare and St. Rita Catholic churches.
I was really pleased with the community response, he told the Memo. We had a really large number of people. We had lots of volunteers. Many of them are parents of kids involved in sports, and usually they call me. We get more of them every year. (Fellow farmer) Dominic Giusto gave us free corn. Weve had politicians stop by before, but this time (mayor) Tom Potter, (commissioners) Sam Adams, Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman all came by.
Despite Rossis denials, people continue to fear this may be the last season for such celebrations. He announced earlier this year that he would let the Garre family farm his 25-acre spread, and there have been no sales of fresh daily produce from the barn. Privately he has said that a variety of factors have made the margin of profit for urban farms such as his too thin, the financial risk is unacceptably high, and he is unwilling to cut corners to make it work. Despite all this, he insists he has no intention of selling the land, and he still plans a Harvest festival in the fall.
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