Neighborhood Leader Warns: By Preserving Views, the Pearl District Could Become a “Gated Urban Community for the Landed Class”

Others warn of the "uglification of our city," as City Council hears testimony on a project that would build hundreds of apartments on what's now a surface parking lot.

(Emily Joan Greene)

Portland City Council heard testimony Wednesday from the Pearl District residents who live in tall towers and oppose another tall tower slated to rise near the Fremont Bridge.

Their crusade, and similar ones, were the subject of a recent WW cover story.

Related: A Fight Over The Height of Portland's Skyline is Raging. Who Wins May Determine Whether The City's Housing Crisis Ever Ends.

Critics of the Fremont Place Apartments may not agree on much with the building's supporters, but they do see eye-to-eye on one thing: the decision by City Council on whether the project gets built as planned will be a harbinger of what the city becomes.

"Ultimately the debate is about what kind of city we want to become," wrote Michael Mehaffy, president of Goose Hollow Neighborhood Association, whose testimony was read at Council on his behalf. "Should we become a city that surrenders its heritage in an ill-considered rush to address its short-term problems with a simplistic 'build, baby, build' solution? Are we disturbed by the growing uglification of our city?"

Residents of Pearl District condos fear a new development will block views of the Fremont Bridge from their windows and Fields Park. (Abby Gordon)

Dozens showed up to oppose the project, arguing the city should preserve views of the Fremont Bridge from Fields Park.

Just a handful came out to support the Fremont Place Apartments, other than its developers.

But among them were two past presidents of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.

"I am horrified by the idea that this neighborhood could become an urban gated community for the landed class," wrote Patricia Gardner in a longer letter to City Council, before her testimony.

"The idea that this neighborhood could not live up to the density that it was destined for because the 'I've got mine' crowd moved in would be beyond criminal if only because the millions and millions of public dollars that have gone into the creation of this neighborhood."

The city's design commission has approved the project, but the Pearl District Neighborhood Association has appealed in an attempt to halt or modify the project that would block views of the Fremont Bridge.

City Council is expected to decide the issue on March 7.

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