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New downtown park gets parking right

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 29th, 2009 at 11:08 am

Parking at Director Park-1
Bike parking at Director Park.

The City of Portland opened up a new downtown park earlier this week. Director Park, a former parking lot (that's now underground), occupies a full city block (bordered by SW Park and 9th to the east and west, and Taylor and Yamhill to the south and north). It's a new public space that the City refers to as "a piazza in the heart of downtown."

Here's a bit of history from our friends at Neighborhood Notes:

"Nearly ten years ago Mayor Vera Katz launched a vision for Portland's Downtown District, one that would extend the city's public spaces in corridors that run both east and west—and north and south—intersecting in a very special park in the center of it all. Director Park is that place."

Parking at Director Park-3

That's all fine and good (more analysis of the park, its costs, etc... here) but I heard someone mention its excellent bike parking, so I went by and took a look this morning. I was impressed. Construction isn't completed yet, but from what I saw, there were 15 staple racks in and around the park. None of them are covered (which I'm sure that would have ruined the aesthetics that were clearly a priority with this beautiful space), but they had a new, clean design and they were well-placed (visible and near entrances).

Parking at Director Park-4
Parking at Director Park-2

Another bonus the park offers for people on bikes and everyone that enjoys our city's public spaces? It comes with a new public restroom.

I look forward to meeting there for rides and other activities in the future.

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Comments
  • Dave October 29, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I think one of the things that makes Portland such a nice city to live in, is the commitment to enjoyable public space - and not just huge parks like Forest Park or Laurelhurst or whatever, but that there are so many small, beautiful public spaces scattered all over the city - Ladd Circle, Chapman Square, Pioneer Courthouse Square, now Director Park (of course I'm leaving out tons of them) - small, interesting public spaces like this are scattered all over the city, and I think it adds a really nice, human feel to the city.

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  • Nick V October 29, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Not to be a critic, but is it all pavement for the most part?

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  • Kt October 29, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I understand we're coming through Fall to Winter, but--- this park needs more greenery!! :)

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  • Ethan October 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Nick, What about the word "piazza" don't you understand?

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  • BURR October 29, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Now lets get the car parking off the rest of the south park blocks, they aren't the parking lot blocks. The city doubled the number of parking spaces on the south park blocks during the north-south light rail project, which is now completed, so it's time for all those extra parking spaces to go away. And when will the south park blocks finally be closed to motor vehicle traffic?

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  • Craig October 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Actually go take a look in person. It's not concrete (which looks terrible as a hard surface for these things), they used very interesting blocks of granite material and created an interesting pattern. Its has very nice details to it. The materials also seem to change color with different environmental conditions. Usually I would agree with the too much pavement opinion, but this was done right. Its very European in nature.

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  • Steven J October 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    It's interlocked white brick. for the most part. those staples are very elegant

    the paramount hotel, fox tower, old Hollywood theater. line 3 sides. part of it is covered. nicely done..best of all...
    cars are buried out of sight. makes me wonder where is the exhaust going.

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  • P Finn October 29, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    those racks scream, "please, u-lock, slide down on me!"...tough beans for those with no kickstand

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  • E October 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    This is near my office, so we've been watching the work in progress for a long time. Walking by the other day I was disappointed by all the pavement - we had understood it was going to be greenspace - but all in all it is a lovely little plaza and I expect I'll eat lunch there a lot (though not this week probably). Also the staples were not in yet when I went by & I'm very glad to see them! Maybe there will be some planters added by the time they're all done.

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  • Nick V October 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    #4 Ethan,

    I understand what a piazza is, thanks. This being Portland - rainy and sometimes kind of hot - I just thought some greenery might be nice. Sheesh.

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  • Dave October 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    @Nick V: you're right, it would.

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  • Bob R. October 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    The plans do show trees concentrated toward the SE corner of the park, so there will be more green as these grow and fill out.

    There is also a large glass canopy over the SW side of the park, which will allow for outdoor events on rainy days, without feeling like you're under a bridge or tent.

    http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=47936&a=236396

    (The plans at the link, above, were posted awhile back and details may have changed as the park was constructed.)

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  • snolly October 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Steven J,

    The exhaust for the garage is adjacent to the elevator/stairs.

    Amazing to think that their will be a sea of parking below this park - the Fox tower, Director Park garage, and the new tower to the North will make for a ton of automobile parking. At least it's not a surface lot anymore I suppose.

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  • Jacob October 29, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    nice to see the staples being made of round tubing, not that TT scaring flat bar crap.

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  • Chris October 29, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    I noticed when I locked up that they're not the expensive staple racks. Does anyone know the comparative cost of these racks? I think the tubular style racks are less likely to scratch up bikes.

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  • E October 29, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    @ Bob R, the structures are there as in the plans. The trees are not there yet. Looking forward to them. :)

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  • matt picio October 29, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    "Mayor Vera Katz launched a vision ... one that would extend the city’s public spaces ... north and south"

    Interestingly, the block to the north, where the city fought a bitter battle with Zell's jewelry was supposed to be one of these parks, and then became a high-profile skyscraper. That building currently sits as a partially completed core in a giant hole in the ground due to the developer running out of money.

    Hmmm.... how in the world did THAT happen?

    Glad to see they finally completed Director Park - too bad that the adjacent block couldn't also be for public use since in large part the city destroyed the local business that owned it.

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  • wsbob October 29, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Haven't seen the park finished. Looking forward to doing so. The water feature should be excellent. Not at all crazy about the canopy...flat, shed roof...but it's supposed to be some ecological rain collecting re-use gadget...so maybe its gawky looks will be some sort of fair trade-off.

    Wonder where the entrance to the public restroom finally wound up; at one point, it was located where the diners in the sushi restaurant and starbucks across the street would be treated to a direct view of people coming in and out of the restroom.

    Matt, there's nothing wrong with the block just north of Director Park that many truckloads of dirt couldn't easily take care of. Oh...certainly finish the underground parking already in progress before filling the remaining space in with soil and plants. Send your regards to Tom Moyer. He's the man that could make this a reality.

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  • Lisa G October 29, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    I've been watching this project for over two years and shaking my head. It is a piazza, not a park. A park = greenery, unless it means a place to park your bike, a different kind of park which is all well and good. Are they planning to have some bioswales to filter the runoff? I'll have to take a closer look. Downtown really needs more greenery. At $475,000 per year this will be one of the more expensive parks to run. I think if you took a poll of the people who live and work in its vicinity they will likely want it to have flowering plants, shrubs and trees. Raised beds could work.

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  • BURR October 29, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    @ Matt #17 - it is the Park Blocks, how the hell did any of those buildings get built between Burnside and Salmon?

    :eek:

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  • matt picio October 29, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I don't have a problem with the built blocks that divide the north park blocks from the south. My problem lies in the fact that Vera's administration got all keen about removing all those buildings and parking lots and connecting the two parks, and the city put pressure on the property owners to sell. Zell Bros didn't want to sell their building, and the city browbeat them until they either gave up or went broke (I'm not privy to why they went out of business). Then instead of a park, all of a sudden we're getting a new skyscraper.

    I guess I don't like being reminded that BIG business interests still hold so much sway in Portland.

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  • BURR October 30, 2009 at 8:03 am

    don't fool yourself, the Chamber of Commerce (aka the Portland Business Alliance) holds more sway at City hall than cyclists or just about anyone else, and it's been that way for a loooooong time

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  • wsbob October 30, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I'm not sure businesses in the block north of Director Park went broke as a result of development plans for that block; Virginia Cafe relocated across from the library...the Mercantile lady's store relocated over on Alder.

    The Portland Business Alliance and developer people such as Tom Moyer did...do have a major hand in directing the character and form of downtown that people experience when they go there.\

    It's great to have Director Park (not so coincidentally located directly across from Tom Moyer tower)rather than the surface parking lot it was. It's just kind of a shame to have the low level buildings formerly standing on the block north replaced by another tall tower blocking out the sky.

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  • BURR October 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    don't forget that under this park are parking spaces for about ten times as many cars as used to fit in the old surface lot, not sure that this is really a step forward at all...

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  • wsbob October 31, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Burr...at least street level is now able to be used for something more than parking cars.

    Went by, walked through the park today. Water feature isn't on yet...that's o.k. ...we've got rain now! Can't beat Oregon rain for a water feature.

    Only one car was parked on Park in this block. Kind of got the impression cars may not be able to park on the street in this block; big stainless steel bollards have been spaced at lengths where parking would seem to ordinarily be. A little hard to tell because the fancy light-colored paving(light-colored for now...as far as I know, cars will still be able to drive there)extends all the way up the sidewalk adjoining the tower.

    Looks like they've placed the entrance to the restroom on the east side of the little building on the square; much better.

    The bike staples are fine, but a little spindly looking. Wonder how long before some lunkhead takes a running jump and slams into one to see if they can bend it over.

    The curvilinear teak, oval profile seating is excellent.

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