Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Ending in Hollywood

I'm glad Creston Homes found a way around neighborhood opposition to build on the empty lot next to Hollywood Theater.  Success came from giving up early on working with the Design Commission and neighbors.  The article quotes a project manager with the developer (emphasis mine),
“It had a lot to do with the fact that anyone in the neighborhood could file an appeal of any decision (of the design commission), for a small fee,” he said.
Such appeals, [the project manager] noted, could have derailed the project.
The commission’s design review process also could have been longer, he said. And that would have made a huge difference because city building permit fees increased on July 1. Because the team applied before fees increased, [the project manager] estimates that it saved $56,000. The permit for construction was issued Nov. 17.
Anyone can appeal anything for any reason, at low cost.  Even if the appeals are eventually rejected by the Design Commission that can drag out the review process for months.  That by itself is enough to kill projects.  The net result is a regular review track heavily weighted towards preserving the status quo, even when that means keeping an empty lot at an address with a walk score of 92 in an area targeted for major transit infrastructure.  As a city with dreams of growth and density Portland needs to do better.

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