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Portland project gets 1,200 bike parking spaces, most in N America (and it might not be enough)

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Each of three new buildings planned for the four-block project will include more than 100 bike parking spaces. The fourth will get a basement valet storage area with 540 or more.
(Image by GBD Architects.)

Call it a bikescraper.

The 21-story, three-building apartment project now rising in Portland’s Lloyd District will create more long-term bike parking than any other project in the nation, with four huge new storage facilities in four buildings and an on-site bike valet parking service to serve the biggest one.

But a project architect said Monday that he’s not sure the 1,200 bike parking spaces planned will be enough to serve 657 Portland households, so the development team is considering adding even more bike parking before the project, called Hassalo on Eighth, opens in 2015.

“The demographic that we expect to show up here is going to be young urban professionals and it’s going to be, we think, young families as well,” said Kyle Andersen of Portland-based GBD Architects. “They all have bikes. When I think about my own neighborhood, the families I see riding there, if you move those people into a building they’re still going to have a bike. I think you have to be ready for that demographic to be there, otherwise you’re restricting yourself.”

Hassalo on Eighth, which sits on four city blocks northeast of the corner of 7th and Holladay, will offer 328 residential auto parking spaces.

In November, The Oregonian reported that the developer expected rents in the buildings to be 20 percent lower than those for comparable units in the Pearl District or South Waterfront.

Reached over the last few days, bike experts in Canada, Mexico and across the United States said they didn’t know of any single project on the continent with more bike parking; Mexico’s largest facility, at a train station, holds 800. In Los Angeles, where two skyscraper projects will get more than 700 bike parking spaces, some developers have been predicting that LA’s new minimum bike parking requirement is a waste.

“One bike space per unit is very stupid — they’re never going to be used, especially in Los Angeles,” developer Barry Shy told the Los Angeles Business Journal. “Maybe 20 percent of tenants will have bikes.”

Not so for the Lloyd District project, Andersen predicted. It’ll offer one bike parking spot per unit in every building, plus room for at least 547 bikes in the garage beneath the existing Lloyd 700 office tower. That lot, which will itself be the biggest bike parking facility in Portland and one of the biggest on the continent, will be served by a valet similar to the one Oregon Health and Science University has operated for the last few years. Valet employees would access the underground parking through a freight elevator.

The southeast and southwest buildings will have large first-floor parking facilities with street access. Since this sketch was prepared, architects have brought the minimum total number of spaces to (clockwise from top left) 547, 143, 337 and 177. The large northwest area will be underground, with a street-level bike valet.
(Click to enlarge.)

“I think this is just the minimum that we need,” Andersen said, explaining that the developers are looking to include a diversity of parking options for the diversity of bike users they expect. “Some people ride it every single day, some people have five bikes, some people have a junker and some people have super-expensive bikes.”

In addition to the 328 auto parking spaces, another 670 or so on site would serve the existing office tower and 44,000 square feet of new commercial space, including a planned grocery store.

“We haven’t landed a grocer yet, so we need to make this as enticing as possible,” Andersen said, explaining the unusually large number of auto parking spaces being set aside for that tenant’s use.

A car-free public street will run through the middle of the project.

Scott Mizée, an independent Portland designer who specializes in bike parking, said high-density stack parking for 990 bikes (the minimum required by city code) would cost $400,000 to $600,000 in fixtures alone. Andersen said the complex will use a combination of stacked parking and cheaper but less dense wall-hook parking.

Mizée agreed with Andersen’s judgment that the city minimum, 1.5 bikes per unit, might not be enough to meet demand in central Portland.

“Many that do have bikes will have at least one bike per person, which would mean two per unit,” Mizee said. “If they will indeed have units that families can live in, special attention needs to be paid to cargo bikes and trailers. I don’t think we can over-estimate the need for cargo bike and larger city bike spaces in large residential developments in central Portland.”

Andersen said the developers haven’t yet worked out the details of the valet service, but that it might also serve as a park-and-ride for people looking to store their bikes before boarding the MAX or shopping in the area.

Andersen is smart to expect high bicycle usage at Hassalo on Eighth. According to the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation’s “cycle zone analysis“, the Lloyd District has the highest overall cycle zone analysis score and it has the highest possible cycling potential based on factors like land use, street connectivity, existing bikeway quality, and so on.

“Being on the crossroads of the Streetcar and the MAX line, we have bike traffic traveling down 7th and bike traffic traveling down Multnomah, and putting in a pedestrian street” through the middle of the development, Andersen said. “You can imagine bikes riding down that and people walking. It’s just a hub of activity.”

“I’m pretty excited,” he said.

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