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Will Growth Kill the Pearl?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

 

The Cosmopolitan, a high-rise set for completion in 2016

Portland's Pearl District is going through a revitalization. Throughout the area, new high-rise apartment buildings are springing up as more and more new residents flood into the city. Some are worried, however, that the booming growth will doom one of Portland’s most unique neighborhoods.

Thomas Lawwill is an experienced real estate and development lawyer and an organizer with Preserve the Pearl, said that while he is glad to see the neighborhood continue to grow and develop, he and his group have concerns. First and foremost, Lawwill said, pains should be taken to ensure that the Pearl District does not lose the properties that make it such an attractive location to new businesses and people looking to move to the city.

“It obviously appears as though there’s a market for it, as there is constantly development happening,” Lawwill said. “The issue that Preserve the Pearl is concerned about is not restricting development  is more about respecting the uniqueness of the Pearl District.”

“Supply and Demand”

Lawwill said that on the whole, he is glad to see the development in the Pearl District. He also said that he expects that the area will continue to attract new businesses and residents and continue to grow.

“Can it be overbuilt? Well that really all depends on supply and demand,” Lawwill said. “Right now, the market is really quite active. Most of that growth has been multi-family apartments, and I think really the only thing that can stop it is based on the economy in Portland. As long as people are getting a reasonable return on investing in growth or moving to that area, it's going to continue.”

Lawwil said that he is concerned that as growth continues, large building projects could replace unique and interesting homes and buildings.

“Obviously the development going in now has been approved by the City of Portland so it meets certain parameters, but that’s not always good for uniqueness,” Lawwill said. “There's a segment of the area where height and density are allowed to grow outward. We would like to see some of the original buildings and uniqueness remain and be respected in redevelopment.”

Lawwill said that the Pearl District’s distinctive look and feel is an integral part of that supply and demand. He said that people and businesses are attracted to the area because it has a unique look that sets it apart from an increasingly homogenous city.

“It’s an interesting discussion. I have live in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York and while they all are great urban areas they also keep some of the neighborhood uniqueness in existence,” Lawwil said. “Taking down and ripping up all the old smaller buildings in order to build a new family structure doesn’t really fit in with that uniqueness. People like that uniqueness and it's part of what drives them here.”

“No Such Thing as Too Much Growth”

Carolyn Ciolkosz, Executive Director of the Pearl District Business Association, told GoLocal that she sees the question differently.

“In general, growth is always good,” Ciolkosz said. “When I think of the growth of Portland in general and all of the companies wanting to do business here, I don’t think it’s possible to outpace ourselves when it comes to growth. In fact, I think we are only catching up to other parts of Portland in that regard.”

Ciolkosz said that studies indicate that residential and commercial development should continue to grow in the area in the coming year. 

Ciolkosz also said that while she respects the unique aspects of the neighborhood, she is confident that people moving to the area want an urban home.

“We have so many people coming to this area, we need the housing to be urban and dense to be able to fit everyone,” Ciolkosz said. “Sometimes I think people want to go backwards and see us become more suburban. We have lots of young people moving here and commuting out of the city to Nike, Intel or other companies. They could live in the suburbs and have a shorter commute but they choose to live in the city.”

Brian Vanneman

The Expert’s Take

Brian Vanneman, Principal of Leland Consulting, a real estate consulting and development and urban planning firm, told GoLocal that he expects building and growth in the area to continue.

“People are still coming here and rent costs are going up. When you look at any measures that real estate analysts are going to look for, they’re going to say to keep building,” Vanneman said. “The problem is that because real estate has such a long timeline, by the time that changes there will still be some projects planned and underway and it could become overbuilt.”

Vanneman said that developers should be extra careful due to the up-and-down nature of the local and national economy.

“When you look at our economy we have booms and then busts and we just keep doing that,” Vanneman said. “One thing about development is that it is cyclical. We are seeing an immense amount of development not just in the Pearl but throughout Portland, where we didn’t see hardly any between 2009 and 2012 due to the recession. it’s possible, even likely that the apartment market will get overbuilt.”

 

Related Slideshow: Party Report: 1st Thursday at PNCA’s new Pearl District Home

Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) hosted its first First Thursday event on March 5, from 6-9 p.m, at theire new campus flagship, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art and Design.

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Angela and Aaron

PICA's Angela Mattox and OPB's Aaron Scott.

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

Prev Next

Artist in Action

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

Prev Next

First Thursday at PNCA

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

Prev Next

Artist Krystal South

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

Prev Next

Malia Jensen & Friend

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

Prev Next

Listening to Art at PNCA

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

Prev Next

Future Art Student?

Miette at PNCA's first First Thursday event.

PNCA’s first First Thursday attracted hundreds of people, involved lots of refreshments (popcorn and wine) and was an opportunity for the public to explore the school’s art galleries and student projects. The gallery currently features "Gathering Autonomy: Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative," a cooperative of 30 artists whose work focuses on radical social, environmental, and political topics. There was also work from PNCA students, alumni, and faculty presented at the gallery on the third floor. And there was lots of banging from a community drum circle.  

 
 

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