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New Rose Quarter housing development inspired by, named after, a bicycle - UPDATED

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 25th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Say hello to Milano.
(Rendering by Ankrom Moisan Architects)

Here in Portland we've seen many commercial and residential developments that are built with bicycling in mind. Whether they're directly marketed to people who ride bikes, or come with impressive bike parking, catering to Portlanders' love of bicycling is nothing new.

But the Milano Apartments, set to break ground Friday, were actually inspired by — and named after — a bicycle. Seriously.

Kip Richardson, the director of business development for Portland-based Ankrom Moisan Architects got in touch today with news that their new, 60 unit apartment project going up at 105 NE Multnomah Blvd will be named after Bianchi's famous city bike, the Milano.

Bianchi's version.

Here's what Richardson says about the inspiration behind the apartments:

"The project design is inspired by the city of Milan, Italy, which is recognized as a rich cultural center with vibrant nightlife, popular athletic teams, world-class fashion, and a strong culinary heritage. Bicycle-makers Bianchi named one of their most popular urban commuter bikes—the Milano—after Milan based on these attributes. Portland has long been known as one of the best biking cities in the country; and the location of our site places residents at the center hub of major bike routes and public transportation."

Richardson, a daily bike rider himself who rides a Milano that inspired the name, says the apartments are being developed (by Civitas) as work force housing. Their location — near I-5 and straddling the Rose Quarter and Lloyd Center — will be just steps from MAX and bus lines, not to mention the improved bike access that's (hopefully) on its way to either Holladay and/or Multnomah Blvd.

Floor plan of Milano. Note the amount of bike parking vs car parking (and the space it takes up!). (Yellow labels are mine).

Furthering the bike vibe, Milano will have only 12 parking spaces for cars and about 50 spaces for bikes. They've also designed the bike parking directly adjacent to the lobby and community area for convenient access. The parking mix is all about "encouraging residents to embrace alternative transportation," says Richardson.

"The building design itself echoes European style with clean lines and smaller, more efficient units. It seemed only natural to call this urban, centrally-located, bicycle-friendly development The Milano."

This should come as no surprise to anyone following urban development in Portland. Back in November we shared some choice words about bicycling's impact on housing design and Portland's future with fewer cars by Mark Edlen, CEO of Gerding Edlen, one of the largest developers in Portland. Edlen noted that Portland's "bike culture... is on fire."

The Milano apartments are just the latest sign of bike-oriented development in Portland. With any luck, more bike traffic around this building will give a jolt of much-needed vitality to the streets in the Rose Quarter/Convention Center area.

UPDATED, 1:37 pm on 1/26: The architects got in touch to say the actual number of bike spaces is 91. I have made the correction.

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Comments
  • poncho January 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Oh wow, another new building with staggered windows, that was so original in 2001. Other than that though, I say, awesome to this new low-car mixed use infill building in a part of town that really needs some more activity.

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  • dan January 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    50 bike slots for 60 apartments? Interesting - wonder how they came up with that ratio.

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    • Kip Richardson January 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      Actually Dan that was my mistake. There are 91 bike parking places. I gave Jonathan the wrong number.

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  • Allan January 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Is this between Multinomah and Holliday?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      Hey Allan,

      I am not sure actually. I've asked Richardson for exactly where it will be situated. The drawing makes it look like it's on the NE corner of 1st/Multnomah intersection, but 105 NE Multnomah puts it in a different spot. I'll update the story as soon as I hear back.

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    • Paul Manson January 26, 2012 at 12:07 am

      Yeah - I think this is the one that cropped up in the Holladay bike blvd proposal. Ironic.

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  • J-R January 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    The building was named after the bike?

    Next we'll be celebrating that Christopher Columbus was named after the Columbus tubing used on bikes.

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    • John Lascurettes January 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      You're right. The Pepperidge Farms cookie came first.

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      • El Biciclero January 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm

        Mmmmmmm.....Milanos.....

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  • was carless January 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Cool!

    Reminds me of a friend of mine who lived downtown. They had a large bicycle parking area in an underground garage, until the new apartment manager banned bicycles from the building so he could park his personal collection of ~30 (junker) motorcycles in their place.

    Evictions of tenants followed when they complained.

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  • Matt January 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Any insight on what this will do cycling on Multnomah? This was formerly a parking lot, and was insane on game days. It wil lbe great to see the lot turned into something other than parking, but I'm not looking forward to the construction impacts, and long-term traffic impacts on this intersection.

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    • poncho January 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      lets just keep our city as vacant lots because developing them into productive uses would be too inconveniencing. god forbid one has to slow down. this is what we call "windshield mentality" and unfortunately it seems bikes are starting to develop windshields.

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      • Matt January 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        Not as pervasive as the sarcasm mentality unfortunately. But my concern comes out of working in the district and commuting daily on this street. What this development - or ANY development - will do to our safety as road users is a very valid concern.

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  • Carter January 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Multnomah Boulevard is in southwest. Do you mean NE Multnomah Street?

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  • dwainedibbly January 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    50 bike spaces for 60 apartments would only be enough for, oh, maybe 7 couples like the Dibbly's, and one of those spaces better fit a tandem, or else Mrs Dibbly will not be happy (even if the building is named after a cookie)!

    Seriously, though, this project is a step in the right direction. I do think that the City needs to increase the number of required bike parking spaces.

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    • El Biciclero January 26, 2012 at 9:22 am

      "I do think that the City needs to increase the number of required bike parking spaces."

      +1 ...as long as they would make sure any installed bike parking spaces (racks) are actually usable...

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  • dirt_merchant January 25, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    fantastic!! don't y'all get how cool extraordinary this is? I've heard of ideas like this for years, but this one looks like it might happen!

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  • Max Rockbin January 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    This is really just a cynical play to build fewer parking spaces (parking spaces cost VASTLY more than bike parking). Building bike spaces dodges the building code minimum parking standards.

    It doesn't mean fewer cars. It means more cars on the street instead of garages.

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    • Andrew Seger January 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      What's wrong with that? The Lloyd district already charges for on street parking. If people wanna pay to park by their apartment it's no skin off my back. Besides more demand means you can charge more for parking, generating more money that can be used for upkeep in the area. Sounds like a win all around.

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    • Chris I January 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Which is a move in the right direction. The more cars on the streets, the fewer open parking spots. As more and more of these building are built, demand for street parking will increase, and the city can charge market based parking prices (prices increase as utilization goes up). Eventually, residents are forced with the choice to pay a lot for parking, or get rid of their cars.

      Parking minimums are a subsidy to car users, and should not be supported by anyone that advocates for active transportation

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      • poncho January 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

        and drives up the cost of housing for all including those without a car who must pay extra for a unit with parking

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    • Nathan January 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Bike parking can be used to substitute 25% of the minimum parking requirement, so in this case up to 4 spots (16*(1-.25)=12). The developer would need to put in 20 bike parking spots to achieve this reduction (5 bike spots = 1 car spot), but instead is putting in 50. This isn't quite the simple dodge you mention. The developer is looking to cultivate a more active transportation culture for this building. Source: http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?a=53320

      Also, taking a looky-loo at the floor plan, it seems like the area for 50 bike parking spots is about parity with the area for 3 car parking spots. I would argue that this is a better use of the space.

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    • Lance P. January 26, 2012 at 7:35 am

      Portland doesn't have an auto parking 'minimum' (we do have a bike parking minimum)but we do have an auto parking 'maximum'

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    • was carless January 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Whats your point?

      Being along the MAX, developers do not need to include a single car parking space anyway. Or bike parking. Hell, I've never lived in a building with a garage or parking space (prewar buildings).

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  • Max Rockbin January 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Ah. I see. I didn't realize the object was to be punitive to vehicles. Why not just tax them instead of building inadequate infrastructure? Wait. They do that. How about taxing the gas? Do that to.
    How about taxing them more?

    What really happens in urban areas with inadequate parking (and there are studies for this if you google) is cars spend a lot more time circling for spaces. That creates more pollution, wastes people's time, makes for a more dangerous street environment...

    Parking minimums are not a subsidy to car users. They are a necessary part of creating a livable human society in 2012 for those that don't drive as well as those that do. Pretending everybody will use a bike won't fix the problem. It will make an unlivable city. Portland is not Manhattan.

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    • Chris I January 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      The object is not to be punitive to vehicles, it is to charge them for the valuable urban space that they occupy. Do you have any idea how much a 15'x10' piece of private land would go for in the city? every space that you dedicate to cars is less space that can be used for living, or economic activity. Free/under-priced parking is a subsidy to auto drivers, because the people storing their private property in that space are not paying the true cost of the land use.

      Because of the high cost of land, a lack of parking is a natural outcome of dense environments, because no one is willing to pay the true cost to store their private property. When cities price street parking too low, it all fills up and people start wasting time and gas searching for parking. The solution is not to use taxpayer money to subsidize more parking, it is to raise the parking rates based on demand, so you achieve a 90% utilization of public parking spots at all times. If more parking is needed and people are willing to pay for it, the private industry will build parking garages.

      http://sfpark.org/how-it-works/

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  • Editz January 25, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    If they had real guts, they'd change that accent stripe from red to official Bianchi celeste.

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  • Max Rockbin January 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I'm kind of baffled. How is the developer not being charged for building parking? He buys the land and pays several times that cost to build the parking. He doesn't build unless it can be passed through to the renters or condo buyers. So they pay too. And the city bases property taxes on the value of the structure - which is much higher than parking. So the city charges an ongoing very significant amount for that parking.

    If anything the City and everyone except the residents and the developer receive a freebie because street parking is relieved if there is more parking in the building.

    I think the City is letting developers get away with a fast one by not forcing them to build adequate parking - and so passing the burden onto the streets and everyone else.

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  • Reza January 26, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I am of those that agree the amount of parking provided is not requisite the number that is needed to make this building work for several reasons.

    1) Think for a second what's around here. Burgerville? Starbucks? Subway? Some more fast food? A couple of massive buildings that are often dormant (Convention Center and Rose Garden) that bring a lot of traffic but have very little day-to-day value to nearby residents? There are no amenities for people within reasonable walking distance besides a ton of transit, which is admittedly a strong feature, but still.

    2) Expecting everyone to bike everywhere every day no matter the weather is mere fantasy. And even still, there are only 50 spaces indoors vs 60 units. They couldn't at least provide 1 space for every unit? Will each space be assigned to a unit so that people don't take up 2+ spaces for all the bikes they have?

    3) It's one thing if an infill project with little to no parking is on Mississippi, Belmont or Alberta. Those neighborhoods have free parking and even if demand strips capacity at times, the worst people have to do is drive around looking for a space which is their prerogative (they waste time and gas for the "privilege" of doing so). But here, they are in a meter district, which means that even if they wanted to park on the street all day (and are willing to pay the market rate for it!) they cannot because Portland enforces time limits on meter spaces and does not have a residential permit program in its meter districts.

    Like someone else said, the Rose Quarter is not Manhattan. Hell, it is not even Downtown Portland or the Pearl. If you want to be realistic about infill projects in meter districts, you have to provide a more reasonable allotment of off-street parking. Residents who are willing to pay for the price of a parking space deserve to be able to get one off-street. Otherwise, the "market" will take care of well-intentioned but poorly thought out projects such as this.

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    • Reza January 26, 2012 at 12:26 am

      I forgot to mention that is not just a normal meter district, this is a district that charges for parking until 10 PM Monday-Saturday, no matter if the Blazers are even in season or not. Which I have always found ridiculous.

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    • Chris I January 26, 2012 at 6:32 am

      There is a Safeway within a 10 minute walk, FYI.

      While I understand where you are coming from, I think it is dangerous to require developers to add parking. It is unfair to those that choose to live car-free. If the market demands off street parking, the developers will provide it. We need to stop viewing housing with such an auto-centric lens. Aside from biking, this building is extremely well connected to transit. A resident could easily ride or take transit for the vast majority of trips, and use services like Zipcar when they do need a vehicle.

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    • was carless January 27, 2012 at 12:47 am

      People who NEED to own a car won't live here. Simple as that. Its 1 block from the Rose Quarter transit center. Trimet and the COP don't want people driving here. It would screw up the MAX system.

      Also, as was mentioned before, you can't park your car on the street. If you do, the city will tow it (24 hour rule). So problem solved!

      There are 1000s of auto-dependent homes, apartments, and townhouses in the burbs for auto-dependent lifestyle.

      I honestly cannot fathom why anyone would post on bikeportland demanding car parking.

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    • was carless January 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      I should add that the Lloyd District is also zoned for a far, far higher density than it is currently built out as. Developers are planning on building millions of sq ft of new buildings over the coming decades. Heck, 10 years ago noone lived in the Pearl District, and they had a giant train yard where Jamison Park now is.

      I would definitely agree that they have a long ways to go, but they have established a very good transit system through it, and there are many existing residential, commercial, and retail buildings/units in the area, so it should continue to densify.

      There is a lot of energy being directed towards the eastside, now that the Pearl is largely built out (well, not really).

      Here are some websites:
      http://www.rosequarterdevelopment.org/
      http://www.pdc.us/ura/convention_center/lloyd.asp
      http://mithun.com/knowledge/article/sustainable_urban_catalyst/

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  • Max Rockbin January 26, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I think having new buildings with adequate parking will actually lower rents for those who prefer to be car free. People with cars (the majority) will be less likely to compete for apartments without parking. So those apartments without adequate parking will rent at a discount. I rent apartments. That's real world stuff right there. People pay up for parking and apartments without it are significantly cheaper.

    If they were tearing down old apartments without parking (on a large scale) to put in new ones with parking, then there would be an argument...

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    • Chris I January 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Apparently this developer is mentally deranged then. There's no way this venture will be successful!

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  • A.K. January 26, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I think it's great that there is a "bike stable" of sorts being installed, but I'd be hesitant to leave anything other than a beater errand bike down there for fear of it being stolen, even in a "controlled" room. It's easy for folks to access controlled environments if they really, really want to.

    What I appreciate about my current apartment (inside of an huge old house that has been divided into two separate apartments) is that there is a long, skinny closet that is perfect for holding my bike / repair equipment / accessories.

    My bike is put away where it's not taking up space in the living area, and it's as safe as anything else I keep in my apartment. I have to walk up/down a set of stairs to the second floor in my road shoes every time I go on a ride, but it's not a big deal to me - and the fact that I know my (not cheap) bike is stored securely in my apartment makes me feel better.

    I think a "bike closet" could be a feature easily added to new construction or remodels, though I'm not sure if developers would be willing to give up any amount of "living space" sq footage for such a feature.

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  • Max Rockbin January 26, 2012 at 10:53 am

    The developer saves enough on reduced parking requirements to make the building profitable. Seriously, developers cannot make money right now on most small/medium buildings that have adequate parking (underground w. concrete slab = $1MM on a small building).
    So they get these exemptions by exploiting bicycle parking. They get lower rents, true. But the economics are much closer to workable without spending so much on parking. Return = income/cost. So if income is down 10% and costs are down 25%, that's a good deal.

    This isn't a green developer opting in favor of bikes. It's a developer doing it the only way he can afford to. If you support the idea of fewer parking spaces, don't complain about cars endlessly circling for spots because it's the inevitable result.

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    • Andrew Seger January 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      You've just made the strongest case for why we shouldn't have parking minimums. Portland needs more apartments, especially in the inner city areas. That study you mentioned about parking making up a large portion of traffic comes straight out of "The High Cost of Free Parking." There are a few suggestions in there about how to sort out the congestion mess without parking minimums that Manet of us would like to see implemented.

      What's so bad about developers making a profit anyway?

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      • Andrew Seger January 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        *should be many not Manet. Darn autocorrect. As far as I know Edouard Manet has no particular opinion about parking minimums in Portland. He did make quite a few paintings on the urban environment that are still quite relevant. The Rue Mosnier with Flags is a good example of shared space and a great painting. (http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=946)

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  • Annie January 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    The developer is understanding, or even ahead of, the times. There is an innovative sense of creativity and community that comes along with using bikes and public transit to commute. Having lived in Portland, it is extremely possible and relevant. Due to the lack of housing in the area, it makes more sense to maximize space for the apartments themselves then it does to maximize parking spaces.

    Personally, parking is not high on my priority list when I'm looking for an apartment (and I do drive). I live in Los Angeles now and I am way more concerned about the unit itself. And, in comparison, the public transportation/bike friendliness of the streets are lacking in L.A.

    I'm sure the developer did his research on the demographics of the NE area. Plenty of people will repond well to the bike-friendly community and the cost-effective units that are super close to the river and to downtown Portland.

    We all have different priorities. Not everyone drives, and if any city can handle bikes/public transportation, Portland can!

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    • Annie January 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      And... 91 bike spaces are more than enough for residents to have an average of 1.5 bikes. I wish I had that kind of space!

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  • Southeast Al January 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Has anyone heard about the new apartment project on NE 6th and Couch that is currently under construction? I've heard, but have yet to confirm that it will be very heavy on bike amenities. That location is far, far better than this one in the Lloyd district because it is in the lower Burnside area, close to all of the new restaurants and directly on the streetcar line.

    I don't know if they plan on naming that project after an actual bike or if they plan to pander to the bike community as a marketing ploy...

    Other projects in NW under construction are providing these amenities as well.

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  • Max Rockbin January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    There's is a whole nother debate to be had on the subject of "green" developers. The green has more to do with the hue of $'s than anything else.

    I think the real question is whether the City's policy of allowing fewer parking spaces in new developments in exchange for bike parking is good public policy or not - and who it's good for exactly.

    I think creating a parking shortage is bad for the community and short-sighted. Letting developers off the hook parking-wise is a scam designed to lower developer costs - and put the burden on the general public who will have to deal with the increased traffic and pollution consequences of too many cars on the street. We see this over and over. It'd be nice to think that fewer parking spots mean fewer cars. Even if it's true it would not be 1 to 1. So who should carry the burden of those extra cars on the street? The developer or you?

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    • Chris I January 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Can you name a city with generous amounts of urban parking that are considered to be highly livable and friendly to cyclists and pedestrians?

      Houston?
      Atlanta?
      Buffalo?

      I know we aren't Manhattan, but who are we striving to be as we grow? I would much rather end up like Vancouver, BC or San Francisco than Houston or Atlanta. Parking is a big part of the equation.

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    • Andrew Seger January 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      It should be pointed out the developer wasn't obligated to put in any car parking. It's close enough to transit there didn't need to be any. Those 12 were just what the developer thought the market wanted. This isn't a variance but what the city decided was a good balance towards a more livable city. I looked at your website and saw you moved here not too long ago. Welcome! We've had endless debates about how to best sort out parking and as a city we've generally come down on the less-is-more side of things. For instance Pioneer Square is a public space and not the parking lot it was slated to be. You might take a gander at the draft of the Portland Plan: http://www.portlandonline.com/portlandplan/ or the draft of the N/NE for the sort of direction the city is trying to go in. Not that I agree with all of it, but at least the planners lay out what they'd like to do.

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  • beth h January 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Withholding opinions on viability until I see the cost of rent...

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  • Cody January 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Cars are a necessary evil. They are expensive and can turn a good day to bad really fast. And the fact is, we will always rely on them in some way or another. However, why not stretch ourselves to see what we could accomplish without them? Portland is THE hub for cyclists, and it makes all the sense in the world to steer towards the lifestyle. And these apartments are a step towards just that. It is progressive, no doubt about that, and I am excited to see what it does for other complexes as well in embracing the culture.

    Any time you live downtown, or in an apartment building, parking is always an issue. And if you own 3 cars, this place is not for you. However, this place makes worlds of sense to all kinds of people who rely on public transit and their own legs to get them from A to B. It is a cyclists building, and I can only hope that as cycling culture as a whole grows, like it has here in LA, that people will realize the good that comes with it, and be more embracing and progressive as this developer has done.

    I cant tell you how many people here that would benefit from something like this! I hope to one day see this kind of building in LA.

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  • Max Rockbin January 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I believe it falls upon us - and all of those who would advocate for better urban planning and city design - including better bicycle infrastructure - to be fairly certain that those design features that we do encourage and push for will actually make the City more livable.

    I am not convinced about building new buildings without much parking. I am not convinced that it won't simply lead to more pollution and congested streets.

    I'm all for the goal. Even if all the cars aren't displaced with bikes, it would be great to have better public transit.

    But reducing parking capacity to this extent strikes me as a little like closing bad schools to encourage better education. Yes, closing the school would increase demand for a new (hopefully better) school. But it would also leave people angry and under-served.

    In this case, if the result is more cars without private parking, causing more the negative effects I've already repeated too many times. We may end up with more public pressure for parking lots. Which is not something I want.

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  • Doug Klotz January 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Admittedly it's not in the Rose Quarter, but an apartment building several years old on SE Chavez south of Hawthorne originally generated fear that the parking lot would fill and there would be massive overflow into the neighborhood. Turns out their parking lot is usually about half full. I assume a good portion of the tenants don't have cars.

    A recently completed 4-story apartment at 38th and Division has no parking. The apartments are all rented, yet there is no flood of cars in the surrounding streets. Again, it looks like a good portion of the residents do not have cars. In my neighborhood, at least, I'm not seeing the negative effects people are citing here.

    While 15 years ago lack of parking might have caused overflow onto the streets, it's looking like a shift is actually happening, and a higher percentage of apartment dwellers, at least, do not have cars. If leaving out parking spaces lowers the developer's cost, the car-free renters benefit from lower rents. Where there are a few parking spaces, those who need them usually pay extra rent for the privilege.

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  • Cac Ack January 29, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    They did that in my building. We just had to ask for a rack and they found a spot that was too narrow for a car and put in some racks. It's really convenient to just ride up to the fob lock thingy, beep it open and roll on in.

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