Better Late Than Never

They’re finally getting around to rezoning Interstate Ave for transit-oriented development, how many years after the Yellow Line opened?

8 responses to “Better Late Than Never”

  1. The City of Portland designated Interstate Avenue as the alignment for lightrail in the late ’90’s; one of the great failures of this project was the City’s delay in rezoning until now. But better late than never. What is going on along the Milwaukie alignment?
    Because both it and the I-205 alignments follow freeways or “almost” freeways for much or all of their routes, TOD development potential is severely limited. The wisdom of the Interstate alignment is its potential…still mostly potential…for real TOD development. Already along Interstate MAX you will find new businesses and expansions at almost every stop despite the delay in re-zoning.

  2. So, “build it and they will come” didn’t work, so let’s pass a law to mandate it?

    Didn’t work on the red line (and now we have a Swedish Wal-Mart out there with its huge parking lot), didn’t work on the yellow line (thus a new zoning law), and there are still LARGE patches of land along the blue line that are un/under-developed despite having had up to 21 years to develop to TOD. And the eastern stretch of MAX in Rockwood is not exactly inviting residents to move there – there was at least one major crime event well covered in local media in the last few days.

  3. Well, let’s see…along Interstate MAX we have:
    Albina/Mississippi: Widmer expansion and Gotham building renovation
    Overlook Park: Kaiser expansion, The Overlook condos, Ainsworth Drugs
    Prescott: Archiform building
    Killingsworth: Killingsworth Station
    Portland: New Seasons Market
    Lombard: new Fred Meyer and other retail
    Kenton: new retail along Denver in Kenton

    Not to mention the radical transformation along N. Mississippi Avenue, a short walk from MAX. Its a start, despite the foot dragging by Bureau of Planning; and more is on the way.

  4. If all of this great building is being done, then why do we need to rezone the rest of the land?

    Kaiser and Fred Meyer would have expanded/rebuilt regardless of MAX – Kaiser’s move from Bess Kaiser to Interstate was long in the planning before MAX was. Fred Meyer has long been trying to upgrade/remodel/rebuild older stores; Peninsula is being rebuilt right now – and is nowhere near a MAX line; the City is stalling out on Freddy’s plans to rebuild Burlingame. Again, no MAX there.

    On the other hand, Freddy’s did close their 6th & Alder store that not only was one block from what is now the Blue Line, but would also be on the Green Line in two years. Plus I can name hundreds of building projects being done that don’t involve MAX (including the Mississippi area, Sellwood, Hawthorne, Multnomah Village, Hillsdale, Burnside, Stark/Washington…)

  5. “If all of this great building is being done, then why do we need to rezone the rest of the land?”

    Because it is cheaper. It costs the developer about $25k if they want to rezone their land, (this money is spent on public hearing and traffic analysis, and etc,) but if two pieces of land right next to each other want to rezone, it still only costs about $25k (total) because a lot of the work is duplicate. And that is the point, rezoning all of the land along the Interstate MAX line will run on the order of $500/property, instead of letting it happen piecemeal at $25k/property. If you were a developer, would you rather pay $25k, or $500? Yes, some projects are such good ideas that they are willing to spend the extra $24.5k, but that clearly does add to the cost… And that costs gets passed on to their customers, and then you complain that their isn’t any affordable housing near town: Rezoning efficiently is one of the ways that we can keep costs down.

    And rezoning the land doesn’t mandate that people do anything, the existing use is allowed too, it just makes it easier to do it.

  6. Lenny: The Bureau of Planning has voiced concern about needing to update zoning along the Milwaukie MAX project, however they have yet to commit to a formal date or timeframe for doing so.

    Erik: Zoning is not an exact science that should be treated like the gospel. It needs to be questioned, reviewed, and updated regularly so that it is reflective of both what residents want and what the market wants to produce.

    In the Brooklyn Neighborhood, we are stuck with a 25 year old comprehensive zoning plan that seeks to prevent industrial manufacturing from displacing single family residential properties. This danger has not existed for nearly 20 years now. The reality is that most industrial companies no longer want to be in this area and industrial use has long been decreasing its presence. This has left a large number of vacant and underutilized properties. I have personally spoken with developers of high-end, mixed-use projects that want to build in the area, but are prohibited to do so thanks to the zoning code.

    I highly reccommend the book “Zoned Out” by Jonathan Levine. His arguement is that zoning is not changed often enough. He argues that if this did happen, more development would happen without government subsidies since the free market would play a larger role in what does get built.

  7. Zoning is one the greatest impediments to increased density in cities, especially if economic conditions are favorable.

    In fact, zoning is primarily just a tool for residents to increase and maintain their property values…

  8. Holy Streetcars! I cannot beieve what Lance and zilfondel have written here. maybe I’m dreaming.

    There is hope after all.


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