Developers and economists have cried foul over the City Council decision to block a 275-unit apartment building in the Pearl District, saying it sends a signal to investors to stay away.
Related: Economists Say a Portland City Council Rejection of New Housing Sends Dangerous Signals
But one Pearl District resident, who supports approving the 17-story, 275-unit Fremont Place Apartments, argues the city commissioners also shot themselves in the foot on two long-awaited urban renewal projects.
The city's economic development arm, Prosper Portland, is currently engaged in two major development projects in the central city, not far from the Fremont Place Apartments: the U.S. Post Office redevelopment and Centennial Mills.
In an email today to City Council, David Dysert, who is co-chair of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association's Planning and Transportation Committee, argues the city needs to make sure that developers will want to work in Portland.
Writing on his own behalf, he indicates his opposition to the position of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association, which has been the leading opponent of an apartment building that could block views of the Fremont Bridge.
Related: Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish Doubles Down on His Argument That More High-End Housing Supply Doesn't Ease Demand
Related: A Fight Over The Height of Portland's Skyline is Raging. Who Wins May Determine Whether The City's Housing Crisis Ever Ends.
"It is troubling that our City Council would take such actions during a time when the City needs to put its best foot forward," writes Dysert in an March 16 email to City Council. "Relationships are two-way. Yes we must search for and demand the best out of our development partners, but the City must also show good faith and be a good partner if we want the best outcomes."
The mayor's office has said that they will reopen the record on City Council's decision next month.
Full email below:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: David Dysert
Date: Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 10:45 AM
Subject: Final Vote on Fremont Apartments Appeal
To: Mayor Wheeler, Nick, Chloe, Dan, Amanda
Dear Mayor and Council,
I am the Co-Chair of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association's Planning and Transportation Committee. However I am not speaking on behalf of the PDNA but rather for myself as I am bound by our bylaw guidance regarding Board actions.
After the preliminary vote to uphold an appeal of the Fremont Apartments approval by the Design Commission many concerned citizens and experts have sounded the warnings on the chilling effects of this potential action on future development and housing supply in Portland I won't reiterate those as they have been eloquently stated in public forums. I agree with these warnings and I want to issue an additional warning given the timing of Council's actions.
The City and Prosper Portland are currently engaged in establishing massive long term contracts with development partners for both the Broadway Corridor and Centennial Mills projects. The Broadway Corridor project is universally identified as a once in a generation legacy opportunity. As a member of the Broadway Corridor Steering Committee I have spent many hours working with the committee to establish and refine the community benefits and project goals the selected development team will be asked to deliver. It is a long and daunting list that will be difficult to achieve for even the most talented and experienced team. We are not simply asking for quality design and sustainable development. We are asking for specific tangible benefits for Portland's most under served communities who have traditionally been left out of these projects. It is critical we succeed so that all of Portland can thrive.
It is troubling that our City Council would take such actions during a time when the City needs to put its best foot forward. Relationships are two-way. Yes we much search for and demand the best out of our development partners, but the City must also show good faith and be a good partner if we want the best outcomes.
Council's recent actions do serious harm to Portland's reputation as a good faith partner and demonstrate a troubling lack of self awareness. If potential partners are not seriously considering withdrawing they are at a minimum assessing additional risk premiums to offset potential uncertainty in the approval process. Bottom line: Portland will not get the best possible deal and is less likely to achieve critical community benefits.
All Portland citizens have a direct interest in our ability to achieve the best results from these assets. We are relying our your stewardship of these critical investments that will have long term consequences for generations to come.
Damage has been done but there is still time to mitigate some of that damage. Please reconsider your tentative vote and re-establish Portland's reputation as a good faith partner.
Thank you for your consideration.