*Under discussion: Pressures are forcing Portland to become taller and denser
The Oregonian, September 28, 2014 By Mike Francis
For those of us who’ve lived in Portland for more than a year or two, the urban landscape has already changed quite a lot. We’ve watched Southeast Division Street grow from an overlooked neighborhood drag dotted with diners and mini marts into the Pacific Northwest’s most scrutinized dining street. We can tell stories about when artists still lived in the Alberta Arts District, sharing space with working class families who’d been there since the days when we still built Liberty Ships.
Some of us even remember when the South Waterfront was just a barren stretch of brownfield, wedged between two traffic-thronged bridges. It’s been a busy decade for Stumptown, no doubt.
So when I say that the next five years are going to transform the streets and buildings of central Portland more dramatically than at any time in living memory, you’re forgiven for thinking it’s hyperbole.
A look through the real estate stories in local newspapers, business journals and the Portland Monthly makes this much clear: there’s a construction boom going on in the city, and for the first time in a generation, it’s producing buildings that are truly, enthusiastically, sometimes ill-advisedly new. As Randy Gragg points out in that article series above, the boom is not unprecedented in size; the number of building permits issued in the city in 2013 is still well below the peak of the hot-burning early 2000s. But what’s being permitted this time is different. Instead of more two-story homes with lawns, punctuated by the occasional condo, now we seem to be making almost nothing but urban buildings. City buildings. Buildings for people who walk fast and ride the streetcar and take taxis, and stay up late and order takeout.