By Lee Perlman
For the Hollywood Star, January, 2010
Will Bruder, head of a consultant team that is developing a new vision statement for the Burnside Bridgehead project, received some input last month from the Portland Development Commission. Bruder put two of the eight questions he had asked of a large public gathering, regarding the future direction of the four-square-block mega-project on the east end of the Burnside Bridge, to the commissioners. The questions were: how much parking should the project provide? And, what land uses should it contain?
The commission members recommended against a minimalist approach to parking. Commission chair Scott Andrews said, “I don’t know the Central East Side, but as a developer I’d say the minimum required is not enough. People may be green, but they go to Costco sometimes, and for that you need a car.”
Commissioner Bertha Ferran said that she lived in an area not well-served by mass transit, and that she, like many other people, would need a car to get to this destination. Commissioner and former PDC chair Charles Wilhoite said that although he lived downtown and can walk to nearly all destinations, “There’s not enough density here to rely on minimum parking.”
Asked what they wanted the project to contain, the commission echoed Andrews’ call for “a little of everything.” For those living there, it could be “a five-minute neighborhood,” in which all needs are a short walk away. “To have this amount of land in the inner city to work with is an opportunity we don’t get in a long, long time,” he said.
Wilhoite said, “It has to be self-contained. People inside should be able to do everything they need to there, but it should still be inviting to people outside.” Ferran called for small residential units, Steven Straus for “incubator” space for start-up businesses, and John Mohlis for workforce housing and job creation.
Bruder’s team asked these and other questions of 150 people who came to a gathering at Olympic Mills in November. The team will have the results of that session, and a draft vision plan, at a meeting at 6 p.m. January 27 at the bSide6 building on East Burnside Street at Sixth Avenue.