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Pearl District developer promotes carfree living

Posted by on March 8th, 2007 at 8:14 pm

[I noticed the "Ride. Relax. Repeat" graphics on the window and the cruiser bike in the rack and I knew something was up at The Encore sales office in Northwest Portland.]

Real estate development company Hoyt Street Properties made their name by transforming Northwest Portland’s abandoned warehouses and rail yards into the Pearl District, a world-renown example of urban living.

Now, the company is hoping to transform people’s car-driving habits by promoting “limited car usage” to prospective buyers of The Encore, their latest mixed-use condo project.

[Photo: Hoyt Street Properties]

From a press release on their website:

“Hoyt is offering future residents of The Encore the choice of: a colorful cruiser bicycle, a streetcar pass, a pair of walking shoes from REI, or a Flexcar membership.”

I’d definitely pick the cruiser bike. So would the company’s CEO, Tiffany Sweitzer,

“The cruiser bicycles are a great way for residents of The Encore to explore their new neighborhood…From riding along the river to cruising into the heart of The Pearl for dinner, residents will enjoy a healthy mode of transportation without having to hassle with unnecessary car usage or parking.”

They even go as far as saying,

“The Encore will realize the possibility of limited car dependency and even car-free living.”

The building is slated for occupancy in Summer of 2008.

I wonder if any of the new residents will check out some of the events and speakers at the Towards Carfree Cities conference coming to Portland next June?

I think it’s great that we have real estate developers in this town who educate incoming residents about the benefits of a walking and biking lifestyle.

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  • Todd of Bikestation March 8, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Jonathan,

    Any comments on the following from your meeting with them…With all of these future residents riding bikes…how will their on-site bike parking be? High Quality and High Capacity? 1 bike space per 1 unit or 2 spaces per unit? Or the more typical 0.5 spaces per unit? (Or less.) I hope the access to this bike parking will be convenient from the street but not require riders to mix with car drivers in the parking structure. These flows should be segregated.

    Perhaps they could also throw in a 1 year BTA/WPC membership too.

    Did they mention any plans for an on-site bike parking station too? ;-)

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  • b rose March 8, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    I guess its a nice baby step as far as getting those folks out on a bike,
    but it seems like what they’re selling is a fairly limited exploration of two wheels; akin to riding a bike in circles around the deck of a cruise ship. Looks nice on a brochure, but to be truly carfree, can they crank it across town?

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  • Joe Planner March 8, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    I hope they include lights with those bikes. That would help get the carfree message across.. that a bike can be used for more than just a sunny day ride along the waterfront.

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  • JP March 8, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    I hope they include lights with those bikes. That would help get the carfree message across.. that a bike can be used for more than just a sunny day ride along the waterfront.

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  • Slick March 8, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    I hope they push for much more bike parking in the Pearl so that it’s practical to go to those restaurants.

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  • peejay March 9, 2007 at 6:24 am

    Here’s my experience with living in the Pearl and bikes:

    When I lived there, we had an 87 unit building served by two small bike racks in the garage and one staple outside the front door. Those racks were filled with broken down old bikes that current or former residents had abandoned there, so the effective storage room was down to about five spaces. Five spaces for 87 units! When I asked the HOA board to cut off the obviously unused bikes, they came up with some unworkable plan that they scrapped, leaving the junkers there.

    This particular Pearl district building does far more to promote bike use by not having a parking space for every unit, although that was just the developers being cheap, and anyway, five years ago, there were many free parking spots in the Pearl, if you can believe it.

    The ideal situation is to develop for alternative use, that rewards those who don’t own cars. Some condos have a garage unit that can be used for storage or even extra living space if not filled with a car. Making alternatives to car culture should be intrinsic to the architecture of these buildings, but I suppose that’s too much trouble for developers. It’s easier to give away a cruiser.

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  • Paul March 9, 2007 at 8:03 am

    I have to admit some cynicism on the real motivation here – the condo market is softening and the Pearl developers are nervously watching the South Waterfront pump new condo inventory into the market. I don’t know how much weight I’d put on this as an effective policy to shift users away from vehicles – especially for folks dropping $400+/sq ft on housing.

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  • Tbird March 9, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Call me an ‘old softy’ but i say any step forward is a positive step. More folks on bikes means more ‘regular’ folks on our side. Even if it’s just around the Pearl and maybe the occasional jaunt to the Inner SE or Springwater Trail to Sellwood, they are NOT driving a car. That’s a good thing.

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  • Slick March 9, 2007 at 8:49 am

    I agree Tbird. Didn’t mean to say otherwise. You and Jonathan are right about why this is a good step! It’s just that if they really do care, they need to make the neighborhood more convenient to ride in by pushing for a lot more bike parking. I wonder if they’d put some on-street parking outside their condos.

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  • Elly March 9, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Well, this is a business — of course the motivation here is marketing more than altruism. But it’s pretty exciting that these folks see their market as people who are interested in car-free living. Fifteen years ago or less a similar project would be going out of its way to sell condos based on the availability of underground parking for a family’s multiple SUVs. This is a sign of the times, and a good one, in my opinion.

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  • Matt P. March 9, 2007 at 9:35 am

    If they really want to promote walking and cycling, they should put together a map of the greater downtown area with the location of the downtown Safeway and Fred Meyer, restraunts, dry cleaners, convenience stores, and other “errand” locations. Knowing where (and how far) you need to walk/ride to get your groceries makes it far more likely that you’ll actually do it, rather than taking the car out to another (already known) location.

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  • John March 9, 2007 at 10:00 am

    This is pretty sweet, I’m not going to sweat the details. I thing its a great marketing and PR campaign… as well as a good move for cyclists.

    The only down side is that it will be harder to find bike parking in the pearl!

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  • Andy A March 9, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Hi y’all,

    Jonathan, I was really pleased to see that this project resonated with you and got picked up here. Granted, I work for Grady Britton, Hoyt Realty Group’s agency, The Encore being their newest building in progress, so this article had a bit more impact personally.

    It wasn’t until I began working with Hoyt that I really understood the company’s commitment to the Pearl as an area from Day One. Namely, as I think has already been referenced here, that at their core, they do things with an eye toward the community flourishing as a whole—that includes the obvious buildings, but also the less obvious, less “marketed” parks, walkways, green spaces, events, attractions, etc. They want the area to be appealing so, if you were inclined, you’d want to spend time there, and maybe, for the right people, you’d want to live there. Maybe I ‘drank the KoolAid’, but this company gets it.

    When we began building The Encore’s identity, a significant portion of that project’s personality was going to grounded in not just the building’s “greenness”— systems, materials, etc.—but also the building’s location in a rich, people-friendly area where getting around is frankly often easier and just more enjoyable without a car. Discouraging cars per se just isn’t realistic. But we did want to encourage, in whatever small ways, living and enjoying time without them, even if just for a sunny afternoon.

    As a biker myself (and almost half our company is into cycling in some way), the ‘Ride. Relax. Repeat.’ element was a personally rewarding part of a larger ongoing effort for Hoyt and The Encore. But I think the real appeal is that it fits the lifestyle of the area: riding the streetcar is fun. Going for a stroll is fun. Ride a polka dot bike with big bouncy tires at under 5 mph and you just can’t help but smile.

    Hey, thanks for reading.

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  • Lenny Anderson March 9, 2007 at 10:23 am

    The key is for motor vehicle parking space in the project to be sold separately from living space. Non motor vehicle owners can buy more living space or just save some real money.

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  • Andy A March 9, 2007 at 10:40 am

    Doh! I completely forgot to give a shout out to Bike Gallery, who’s a big part of this project, supplying the Electra and Trek crusiers. THANK YOU, BIKE GALLERY.

    These bikes are big fun. I had no idea what I was missing until I rode these bikes that, uh, shall we say put so much cush under your tush. Good times.

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  • Evan Manvel, BTA March 9, 2007 at 10:45 am

    The Encore promo is also mentioned in today’s Oregonian insert, “Explore the Pearl” which also talks about “Getting on Board” with various green transportation choices, including biking.

    Hooray for getting mentioned! Just a couple days after being left out in the O article…

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  • Cecil March 9, 2007 at 10:49 am

    “Looks nice on a brochure, but to be truly carfree, can they crank it across town?”

    “If they really want to promote walking and cycling, they should put together a map of the greater downtown area with the location of the downtown Safeway and Fred Meyer, restraunts, dry cleaners, convenience stores, and other “errand” locations.”

    It appears to me, and I have to say that a couple of Andy A’s comments confirm this suspicion, that the object is not to encourage people to rely on bicycles as a mode of transportation outside the narrow confines of the Pearl District but, rather, to encourage them never to leave the Pearl District. Either way, I vastly prefer folks pedaling around at 5 mph on a polka-dot cruiser than zooming through at 45 mph in their Land Crushers, so I applaud any efforts to promote such bike use over car use. I hope the contagion spreads .. .

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  • Reverend Ebb March 9, 2007 at 11:10 am

    this is a great idea. i don’t think they’re encouraging anyone to never leave. i think its just that in whatever neighborhood you live in, you just like spend more time there hanging out, checking out new stuff, whatever. you can always leave, even on a cruiser, but it always feels good to come home and chill.

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  • Patrick March 9, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Interesting to note the skeptism in the responses. I live in the Pearl. We have a car, however I rely pretty much on my bike. Give them a break, sure it’s marketing but at least they chose something enviromentally freindly.

    Also I have more and more people in my building asking me bike questions, asking them to help fix a flat, where they can get a bike, “I never see you coming in by car” etc. At least its a start.

    Finally, while I’d love to see 10th and 11th from Lovejoy to Burnside become car free completely, you have to realize it’s not feasible for everyone to ride their bikes, some people just don’t enjoy it.

    Overall I’d say this is a good move.

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  • DK March 9, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    They don’t enjoy biking because it takes them away from their cells, t.v.’s, ipods, pc’s, coffee, gym socializing, and their hurried ten minute walk with their dogs around their cemented neighborhood. There’s only so much time in a day.

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  • NPBike March 9, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    The people who buy these condos will, presumably, be bike friendly regardless of whether they actually ride the darn thing or not. This is important. There’s a lot to gain by getting the non-bikey people in this town to still like bikes.

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  • trike March 9, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    why crusers? give them a bent with a real fairing (rain protection) and then they will use a bike. most of the folks ive met in the pearl hardly get sun. it looks like night of the living dead over there; folks who work under tubes and live in cubical land.

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  • Curt Dewees March 12, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I find it intriguing that Hoyt is offering potential buyers a choice of just one of these four options (a bike, a Streetcar pass, a Flexcar membership, or a pair of walking shoes). To *really* encourage non car owners to buy here (and also to counter critics who think a free cruiser bike is just marketing fluff), they should offer all four incentives. Because, in truth, a car-free person living in the Pearl will want to use all four of those modes at different times, and for different types of trips.

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