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Bike riders and bikeways loom large in Burnside Bridgehead development boom

Posted by on December 3rd, 2014 at 9:46 am

419 e bunside approach from couch

A 158-unit building proposed at 419 E. Burnside would feature a “bicycle lounge,” possibly with free coffee and video games.
(Images: Myhre Group Architects)

After two decades of waiting for Portland’s bike network to arrive downtown, it looks like downtown is headed for Portland’s bike network.

Now that life on the city’s eastside grid has exploded in popularity (and therefore in expense), major developers are making a lunge across the Burnside Bridge in an effort to bring 9-story living to the east side of the Willamette.

And as construction start dates approach for the first projects of the so-called “Burnside Bridgehead,” the excellent bike access is turning out to be central to their plans.

“We have what we think is going to be one of the coolest bike facilities in the city,” said Erik Winter of Myhre Group Architects, whose firm is behind plans to turn the auto sales lot between Grand and MLK Boulevard into a six-story, 158-unit apartment and commercial building marketed to singles and couples aged 25-34. “It’s a lounge. it’s actually going to have a seating area and a TV.”

The proposed “bicycle lounge” at 419 E. Burnside might also offer a mezzanine area with free console video games for residents, complimentary coffee and decor developed from recycled bike parts, Winter added.

419 e burnside floor plan

Floor plan for 419 E. Burnside, including the “bicycle lounge” (labeled “18”) facing NE MLK Boulevard. It’s just north of a hallway, marked here in gray, expected to run all the way through the buidling.

“They really want people to hang out there, check the commute on the way in and really make it a nice place for people,” Winter said. “And it’s front and center. It’s on MLK, so it’s going to be seen by a lot of people. We wanted to make it front and center rather than in the basement or tucked away at the bottom of the building.”

Documents filed with the city for the 419 E. Burnside project describe the building as aiming for the 70 percent of inner eastside households who make “less than $75,000 a year.” Possible residents described in its pages include a “sous chef by day, drummer by night,” the “brewmaster’s apprentice at a local brewery,” a “stylist at local salon” and a young bearded gentleman described as a “social change activist & bicycle mechanic” (second from left in the image below).

demographic

Some anticipated residents of 419 E. Burnside.

Here’s the accompanying rationale, complete with the assumed commute choice of the building’s residents:

Why People Live Here: (1) to be close to the hippest new restaurants and locally grown retail shops; (2) the neighborhood is still attainable from an affordability standpoint; and (3) it is within walking and biking distance to several of Portland’s urban employment hubs.

It’s a safe bet that bikes will be popular here. According to 2012 Census estimates, one in five employed residents of the central eastside usually rides a bike to work. That’s enough to rank it 38th for bike commuting out of 73,057 Census tracts in the country.

“There are a lot of people at our company who like to bike,” said Winter, the architect. “Our clients are avid bikers, too.”

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In addition to the now-standard ground-floor room with vertical bike parking, every unit at 419 E. Burnside will have in-room bike parking, too.

419 e burnside birds eye

The 419 building has plenty of company on the way. Down the hill, the building already in progress will be a spectacular 21-story wedge currently known as Block 67, designed by the company that’s also been hired for Nike’s new complex in Beaverton:

block 67 from southeast

Block 67, just north of the Burnside Bridge between NE 2nd and 3rd, would include 284 apartments plus ground-floor retail and open in 2016. Plans call for it to offer parking for 200 cars and 426 bikes. It’s seen here from the southeast.
(Images: Skylab Architecture)
block 67 from northeast

Block 67 as seen from the northeast, approaching from the Couch bike lane or through the front window of a No. 19 bus.

Then there’s Block 75, planned for the block north of Couch between NE 3rd and MLK. It’s the result of a partnership between central eastside office-space pioneers Beam Development and Eric Cress of Urban Development Partners, the risk-taking company that kicked off Portland’s surge of zero-auto-parking apartments back in 2011.

block 75 birds eye

Block 75 would be a multi-phase office, retail and residential development (including 60 apartments and 30,000 square feet of office space) across the street from the renovated Eastside Exchange. It’d offer parking for 51 cars and 104 bikes.
(Image: Works Partnership)

And finally, the smallest and flashiest of the bunch would be a proposed six-story retail and office building slated for the grassy lot where Couch curves around to meet Burnside. It’s being called the Fair-Haired Dumbbell and seems certain to be a talker if it’s built:

dumbbell

The Fair-Haired Dumbbell would have ground-floor retail, five floors of office space and 36 “robotic” parking spaces underneath.
(Image: Guerrilla Development)

The bike-friendliness of these buildings will certainly vary, and we nervously await the streetscape changes they’ll prompt in this area. But as these projects prepare to bring jobs, storefronts and lofty residences across the river while providing comparatively little garage space, it’s clear that they’ll be leaning heavily on the biking networks that serve the inner east side.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder if the area might be more likely to develop successfully if there were physical barriers separating bikes across the Burnside Bridge, or a bike lane into downtown that doesn’t merge into a turn lane, or even a comfortable bikeway on Grand Avenue.

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k
Guest
k

anyone find that “target demographic” image pretty hilarious? Did someone just watch Portlandia and put all the characters in there? I’m pretty sure 50% of those people couldn’t afford to live in a brand new high rise, but anyway.

Andyc of Linnton
Guest
Andyc of Linnton

Yeah. “Sales Associate who wants to live close to the city.” City of Gresham maybe.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

my read of the ad is that the sales associate might want to live in pdx (as opposed to gresham), in part, because they are cohabitating* with the digital marketing director.

*see my post below

Emily G
Guest
Emily G

Yeah, it’s weirdly funny because it’s so unrealistic- how are hostesses and bike mechanics supposed to afford these apts, even without a car? What’s more, I recognized the four people on the right, they’re all Project Runway contestants from Portland, so seems like they just

Emily G
Guest
Emily G

oops, hit post too soon! It seems like they just grabbed the promo shots from the show.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

I know it’s shocking and immoral but kids these days actually cohabitate.

Today’s new apartments are tomorrow’s more affordable apartments. And the fact that these types of developments irritate nimby boujies is the icing on the cake!

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Yeah, that was pretty ridiculous.

Damon
Guest
Damon

Sadly, I don’t appear to be anywhere cool enough to live there.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

It is accurate in the fact that it is all white people in the graphic, save the African-American couple.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

I’m so glad this was the first comment. 🙂

Blinkie Seizure
Guest
Blinkie Seizure

Cosign….

and by that i don’t mean “I agree”, I mean their parents will be cosigners.

Adron @ Transit Sleuth
Guest

I’d likely live in one of those places. I’d also be the first to demand real bike infrastructure across burnside and some real bike infrastructure on MLK & Grand. Namely physically separated space from all that MLK, Grand and Burnside traffic. It’s very clear that cyclists are still treated like second class citizens in that are even though they make up a huge percentage of workers in the are (in many of the buildings we make up over 50% of the commuters)

As for ripping on that poster of people, meh. I see people around town like that all the time that would pay 50% of their earnings (not saying that’s a good thing or bad thing, just an observation) if they could live closer to downtown. Most of these people however go car-free and then only have to spend about 25-40% of their income on rent, which is dramatically more manageable. Being car-free in this area is also really easy.

Not saying I’m for or against anything here, just pointing out that they’ll be able to fill these up with those mythical people. Even though I am an advocate of them getting rid of that silly poster. I can’t think of the reasons why… but not a fan of the poster. Maybe it’s that whole stereotyping by physical appearance issue I have.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

It’s insane that Burnside has so many lanes on the bridge. They could remove one of the eastbound car lanes and widen/protect the bike lanes. Traffic would likely choke during the evening commutes, but perhaps people would start to look at commute alternatives at that point. It’s definitely a factor for me – I bike or walk to work because I don’t want to deal with the congestion and high parking prices in the Pearl.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Couldn’t agree more Kyle.

It’s a huge embarrassment IMO that we don’t have a big, physically separated bikeway on the Burnside. And it should connect directly to a similar facility on NW/SW Broadway. So obvious. So simple. So needed. So frustrating.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Burnside would be a perfect street for protected cycle tracks, especially considering all the development going on in the inner east side.

Brad
Guest
Brad

I’ve been thinking this ever since the protected lane opened on Morrison. It would be so awesome to take an east bound auto lane off the bridge, shift all car lanes center, and make nice, wide protected lanes on both sides. Hoping all this development prompts such action.

maccoinnich
Guest

What’s (even more) insane to me is that they built the Burnside-Couch couplet without any bike lanes for most of the length of Couch. There should also be bike lanes on West Burnside at least as far as the Park Blocks.

Reza
Guest
Reza

You can easily keep up with traffic going downhill in the travel lane on Couch. The signal timing at every block makes sure of that.

maccoinnich
Guest

You’re right. *I* can easily keep up with traffic. For many other people the idea of cycling in mixed traffic is terrifying.

jeg
Guest
jeg

Yep! It’s great that the lights are timed to calm traffic, but that doesn’t permit the forgoing of separation of modes. It would make the route usable for many more people.

Reza
Guest
Reza

And by doing that you cripple one of the most viable travel alternatives – the bus. I think the City and TriMet needs to actually look at where bus-only lanes make sense. And the Burnside Bridge eastbound during rush hour is just as much of a “no-brainer” as protected bike lanes might seem.

But not everything is as cut and dry as it might appear here.

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

Yes!!! An eastbound bus lane should be a much higher priority than protected bike lane here, given 3 major bus lines get stuck in traffic while bikes zip by. That said, the bike lanes could be painted green or even raised up from pavement level, rather than widened.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think it’s okay to say that spending 50% of your earnings on housing is a bad thing.

Matheas Michaels
Guest
Matheas Michaels

75,000? Bike mechanic?

Matheas Michaels
Guest
Matheas Michaels

I mean, anyone in that target demographic graphic, how silly.

Tobin
Guest
Tobin

As a bike mechanic who makes well under HALF of $75,000, I find the some of the target demographic for these apartments kinda silly.

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

Well apparently social change activist pays pretty good….Whatever the hell that is?

Joe
Guest
Joe

Interesting I must say seems like everyone needs to fit into a type? have to submit a resume to get in? lolz

Josh G
Guest
Josh G
PorterStout
Guest
PorterStout

Headed out for the naked bike ride, natch. This is just highlighting how convenient they are to everything.

Joseph E
Guest

NYC Bike Snob is going to love that.

Joe
Guest
Joe

It’s exciting to see the new buildings being planned. Personally I would never want to live in this area. The building is between MLK and Grand on Burnside. I can’t think of a less desirable place to be with traffic going all hours. Oh wait, they don’t have balconies, operable windows, etc. Essentially they are soviet housing with a few glass clad panels on the outside. I’m all for new development but the schlock that is getting put up around town (see the new Grant Park Village) is pretty unimpressive.

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

It’s a gold mine for apartment developers right now. They quickly build these cheap buildings and can charge a fortune for rent. I wish the city had some stricter guidelines for balconies, HVAC (some of these cookie-cutter apartment buildings have per-room heating/cooling “units” that are cheaper to install), and exterior design. Not to mention pedestrian accommodation during construction… it’s ridiculous how many sidewalks are closed right now.

jeg
Guest
jeg

It’s also important to note this is needed housing and density in the city protects farm and wilderness outside of the urban growth boundary. I think quibbling about looks is ridiculous. As is calling this “Soviet.” Reagan’s ghost is done for conjuring, I think.

random
Guest
random

“I think quibbling about looks is ridiculous. As is calling this “Soviet.””

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khrushchyovka

jeg
Guest
jeg

That housing is actually now coveted in places where it still exists because it’s cheap and close to amenities.

maccoinnich
Guest

Did I miss the boom in prefabricated concrete panel housing in Portland?

was carless
Guest
was carless

Rest assured, these are not going to be cheap buildings.

jeg
Guest
jeg

We need inclusionary zoning to impose low and middle income housing minimums on new developments.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Listen, I’m all for dense infill development, especially in a part of the city where there’s not loads of residences anyway, but this bears repeating: the five people on the right in that obnoxious “target demographic” pitch document are all Portland contestants from Project Runway, and I think that particular photo may have been swiped from Portland Monthly. Hopefully legally, although I’ve my doubts.

I think this is worth mentioning because it does kind of speak to the silly artifice of the whole thing.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Every marketing brochure uses models. What planet do you live on that doesn’t?

TV, print, magazine, newsprint… all use models for advertising.

Mark Wheeler
Guest
Mark Wheeler

Fair housing laws pertain here. They are not selling cars or bikes; & steering is real. Portlanders, especially, should know the history… http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp

Tim
Guest
Tim

They’re not models. Project Runway is about fashion design, not modeling (You’re confusing it with Top Model maybe?). They’re designers. And they’re taken from a shot that appeared in a spread about Project Runway’s various Portland designers over the years that came out in Portland Monthly a couple of years back.

Basically I’m saying I feel like it speaks to laziness: they took a handful of totally unrelated images to sell this project as a home for “typical Portlanders.” And they used images of five people who are, in fact, public figures, if minor ones. It’s just damn weird.

I don’t object to them using models; I’d assume if you’re doing something like this you either A) shoot your own models, or B) pay to use stock photos or something. C) Dropping in images of previous Portland-based reality TV show contestants is strange.

James Sherbondy
Guest
James Sherbondy

How these developers can keep a straight face while writing up these fluff pieces is beyond me. They know full well that they’re not providing half of the car storage space that the residents of their buildings will require. They know full well that the taxpayers are subsidizing that with “free” on street parking. Now if they, say, took the money they save by not building one parking space per unit and donated it to the BTA or Safe Routes To School instead of into their own pockets I might believe them. I’m not going to hold my breath on that though.

maccoinnich
Guest

Parking along MLK / Grand is metered. In the rest of the Central Eastside it’s 2 hours or by permit. So it’s not “free”.

And the developers do pay for transportation infrastructure. Every single unit of multi family housing built pays a transportation SDC of $2,024. For the projects mentioned in this post alone developers will have paid over a million dollars in transportation SDCs, which PBOT can use for whatever capital project they choose. (Parks & Recreation will have received almost $3 million).

Joseph E
Guest

That’s weird that Parks/Rec gets 3X the money compared to PBOT.

maccoinnich
Guest

I don’t know how the Systems Development Charges are set. Here’s the complete list of current SDCs – http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/article/166412. A medium height, full block multifamily building will wind up paying around $2 million in total SDCs, which might be as much as 10% of the project cost.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

absent metered parking the more “free vehicle storage” congestion, the better.

Adam H.
Guest
Adam H.

Frankly, it’s a bit insulting that this is who they think people in Portland are. As if we all have to fit into a specific model of person.

John Lascurettes
Guest

Well, they did capture the overall whiteness of Portland. Yuck.

lahar legar
Guest
lahar legar

I find that that some of these developments are horrendous. One of the first things I loved about Portland when I moved here 25 years ago was the central east side industrial area. I love infill about as much as I love getting a colonoscopy. It is inevitable and the city I love will change and age but damn it I’ll still resent it. Block 67 is just too god damn big for the east side.

Anne Hawley
Guest
Anne Hawley

I agree that that “wedge” thingy sticks out in the current low-rise environment (and that it’s pretty ugly), but not that long ago the tall buildings in the Lloyd district stuck out, too. What used to seem like weird, distant outposts of a legit downtown are finally becoming extensions of downtown.

(I’m actually old enough to remember when the Standard Plaza–the one with the weather-ball on top) was the tallest building downtown.)

Mark Wheeler
Guest
Mark Wheeler

The “target demographic” descriptions smell like a fair housing violation to me. I know I can’t advertise like that, due to federal fair housing laws.

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

Three of the eleven target demographic people are Lumbersexuals… posers!

davemess
Guest
davemess

And look, they’ve self-segregated!

Tony H
Guest
Tony H

Cleary, I’m too old to live in Portland. Where do older, car free, bike-everywhere people go to retire?

Tony H
Guest
Tony H

Er, that’s clearly. See? I’m slippin ‘

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Thanks for the correction. I thought you were taking Beverly Cleary’s name in vain 🙂

gutterbunnybikes
Guest
gutterbunnybikes

(psst middle East side)

hat
Guest
hat

Fantastic, all of this. An aside: The auto entry to 3rd avenue for the Block 75 will cross the bike lane where Couch merges with Burnside. This I find this new street to be very dangerous as well as superfluous. The bike lane on Couch is already a gauntlet near MLK. The new buildings on 3rd can easily be accessible via auto on Davis and MLK as well as from the south.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

City policy generally prefers auto access points on minor streets.

hat
Guest
hat

Not sure what this means. Couch is a major thoroughfare. It would make a lot more sense to keep auto access on other minor streets. Ankeny and Davis are more than adequate to access 3rd via auto. In fact, a hard barrier between the auto and bike lane should be the norm in areas such as Couch where veering traffic tends to move around in the lane. The lights the city installed in the ground are helpful and expensive, but I’d prefer a physical barrier even if this is just plastic sticks.

lee
Guest
lee

Also, devoid of families/single parents. Let’s keep the kids in the suburbs and then bike infrastructure doesn’t need to be made safer to incorporate them.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I’m glad to see that some alternative, high-density housing is being offered in an area where a car-free option is a possibility. Just like everything else, if it’s not for you, consider something else.

Some commenters here would find fault with these developments if they were free and came with a free bike. The bikes might be the wrong size or have the wrong components.

jeg
Guest
jeg

Free housing? That’s sociofascommunist!

Zaphod
Guest

I hear a bike-delivered coffee roaster is moving into the area

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

These buildings will be architecturally interesting (most of them), far better than the parking lots and empty space there today, provide lots of housing, increase density and bring more pedestrians and bikes, and spur more retail businesses in the area. All good things.

If you think the buildings are ugly, or the marketing is offputting, or the location is not your taste, or the rent not cheap enough, then go live somewhere else. You will have less competition for that other place, because these buildings will have expanded the city’s housing supply.

jeg
Guest
jeg

We definitely still need inclusionary zoning to force developments to include low and middle income housing. Density is only one part of the puzzle.

Mark Wheeler
Guest
Mark Wheeler

The “the marketing is offputting” is putting it mildly, it appears to me to be a violation of federal fair housing laws, which are in place for good reason. I’m not an attorney nor judge, & I have not seen their entire marketing package, but from my perspective as a housing professional of many years, I would not go near this kind of marketing. Telling folks who are concerned to “go live somewhere else” is not helpful, and is possibly offensive. I agree we need more housing, and we can do better.

maccoinnich
Guest

To be clear: that image was taken from the project’s Design Review submission. It is not an image that’s being used to market the project to prospective tenants. If it was marketing to anyone it was to the Design Commission, but it didn’t do them that much good: it took the project almost a full year to get through the Design Review process.

jeg
Guest
jeg

“Telling folks who are concerned to “go live somewhere else” is not helpful, and is possibly offensive. I agree we need more housing, and we can do better.”

Agreed! However, Oregon is the only state besides Texas that doesn’t allow zoning to be inclusive– this means we can’t zone and ask for a percentage of housing be low/middle income as a rule. Density is needed– inclusionary zoning will also help with affordability.

rachel b
Guest
rachel b

John Liu–“…(most of them)…” 🙂 That was admirably diplomatic! The Fair-Haired Dumbbell looks (to me) like The Party Depot and Michael’s threw up on it. And then cut a bunch of random zany squares in it.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Very curious to learn more about the project’s “in-room” bike parking. I assume this means each apartment unit will have a dedicated bike parking space? That would be awesome!! I won’t store my expensive bikes in a common area, ever.

Andrew Holtz
Guest

Hah. That’s the lot where I bought my last (and current) car in 1997. Because of my bikes, the car rarely moves, so it’s fitting its sales lot will be rededicated to people and their bikes.

Michael Miller
Guest
Michael Miller

Two of these projects front directly onto the bike lane as it snakes from Couch to the Burnside Bridge. People need to start advocating now with BDS/PBOT to ensure that construction does not interfere with the bike lane, as we have seen repeatedly in locations all over the city.

ac
Guest
ac

myrhe group bldg is forgettable & that guerrilla dev bldg is a dog!
…and likely on price-point compared to the other two slick designs

Jayson
Guest
Jayson

I actually avoid biking through this part of town. NE Couch is congested every morning there’s no bike lane for most of it. It’s bad enough sitting in the traffic on a bus, I wouldn’t dream of biking it. Of course Grand and MLK are biking nightmares too. I’m hoping this new development spurs some real biking improvements in the area, but I have yet to shift any serious improvements to bike safety or attractiveness..

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

How about NE Davis or Ankeny? And of course, the 7th Avenue Bridge! Portland, block by block, is becoming a real city. Beats used car lots! Note that all of this development is at or near the CL Streetcar line stop at Burnside. These apartments will be about 15 minutes via Streetcar from OHSU, Portland’s largest employer, across the new Tillikum Bridge. They are walking distance from jobs in Lloyd and the Central Eastside. But we do need to make better use of the Burnside Bridge… narrow the traffic lanes, add an above grade Promenade for bikes and peds? and a bus only lane eastbound Take W. Burnside to the Park Blocks down to two lanes each way with protected bike lanes.

Lenny Anderson
Guest
Lenny Anderson

Who will rent these apartments? Maybe BikePortland can check in on the Linden up on 12th and the new apartment at 8th & Couch (above Ristretto’s) and see who’s moving in.