Murmurs: Developer Wins Slabtown Battle

In other news: The Bald-Face Truth has left the building.

John Canzano ((WriteAnthony/ Wikimedia))

DEVELOPER WINS SLABTOWN BATTLE: Seven years after acquiring the Slabtown property, developer Guardian Real Estate Services will break ground on a 200-unit apartment building on Northwest Pettygrove Street, 20% of which will be affordable for tenants making 80% of median income. The developer bought the 1.55-acre property in 2015 and then faced a series of delays while the Northwest District Association fought the design of the project. In particular, neighbors objected to the size of the building: They argued a public process had guaranteed a larger public plaza and smaller building footprint. (“Sky Wars,” WW, Jan. 24, 2018). The battle became emblematic of neighborhood groups’ clout in opposing new home construction despite a housing shortage. While some dispute had centered whether the project should be six stories or four, the building is now seven stories, says the developer. “Slabtown Square has been an exercise in perseverance,” said Tom Brenneke, president of Guardian. “From design iterations and appeals to overcoming the negative perceptions of Portland when attempting to capitalize, we worked through each hurdle to bring this development to fruition.”

SINGLETON TAKES ON DIFFICULT ROLE: Shannon Singleton takes over as interim director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services on March 28. The aide to Gov. Kate Brown, who gave up a bid for county chair to take the JOHS job, walks into an ongoing negotiation of the original intergovernmental agreement between the city of Portland and Multnomah County over how to manage the office, which had a budget of more than $160 million this fiscal year. Although the city contributes more general fund cash than the county, Singleton will report to Kim Melton, chief of staff to County Chair Deborah Kafoury, with the city on the outside looking in. And despite Oregon’s pay equity law, Singleton, a Black woman, will earn a salary of $165,000—$10,000 a year less than Jolin’s. JOHS spokesman Denis Theriault says that’s a reflection of Jolin’s long tenure in the job, which he started in 2015.

HARDESTY, MOZYRSKY SPLIT UNION ENDORSEMENTS: On March 8, Portland City Council candidate Vadim Mozyrsky received endorsements from the Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37, which represents more than 23,000 members across three states; SMART Local 16, which represents sheet metal workers; and the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, which represents more than 20,000 construction workers in Oregon and Vancouver, Wash. Mozyrsky is seeking to unseat incumbent Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who so far has received the endorsements of Service Employees International Union Local 503, which represents more than 72,000 public service employees; SEIU Local 49, which represents more than 15,000 workers, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8, representing around 400 members. She’s also received the endorsement of the union that represents Portland Community College faculty. (The third leading candidate, Rene Gonzalez, has received no union endorsements yet.)

JOHN CANZANO LEAVES THE OREGONIAN: The Oregonian’s most prominent writer, sports columnist John Canzano, has left the newspaper after 20 years. Editor Therese Bottomly announced the departure March 8 but offered no explanation “I wish John all the best going forward,” Bottomly tells WW. “He’s a terrific writer.” Canzano did not immediately return a call seeking comment. His colleagues believe Canzano was the highest-paid member of the staff. He was certainly the most recognizable—in part because his columns were reliably provocative, lambasting Oregon sports executives, scolding well-known athletes, and goading fans of the Blazers, Ducks and Beavers. He also had an unusual deal at the paper, allowing him to host a talk radio show, The Bald-Faced Truth, on 750 AM The Game while penning his column. Canzano has launched a new website and will continue writing a column in a newsletter that will be free to readers. One former colleague, longtime sportswriter Ken Goe, lamented Canzano’s departure on Twitter. “This is a tragic mistake for The Oregonian,” Goe wrote.

Clarification: The first item in Murmurs stated that neighbors’ principal objection to Slabtown Square was its height. Records indicate that the principal matter in dispute was the ratio of private structure to public plaza.

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