There will be an important City Council vote next Wed afternoon, Dec 10th on regulations affecting future redevelopment of the building at SE 30th and Division (former Wild Oats site) as well as several other buildings along Division Street. Please see below for important information on steps you can take.
* * * IMPORTANT CITY COUNCIL VOTE – DEC. 10 * * *
I’m writing to ask you to weigh in on an important code amendment that City Council will vote on next Wednesday – Dec. 10th as part of the “RICAP 4” package. This regulatory improvement package contains an important amendment that we believe is necessary: 1) to clarify the existing code limiting retail uses to 10,000 SF; 2) to stop unintended consequences and delays already experienced, and 3) to provide more flexibility to effectively re-use (rather than raze) existing buildings such as ours at 30th and Division.
The proposed change has been formally endorsed by the Richmond and Hosford Abernethy Neighborhood Associations, Division Clinton Business Association and was unanimously recommended by the Portland Planning Commission.
As a former Planning Commissioner, a property owner, a local retailer, and as someone who cares deeply about appropriate development that enhances neighborhood livability, I am convinced this change not only improves the odds for us to successfully renovate our building, but also significantly enhances the opportunity to achieve the many laudable goals outlined in the Division Main Street / Green Street plan. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated.
Please ask City Council to vote “YES” on the Division RICAP.
Neighborhood Support Needed To:
1. Testify in support at the City Council Meeting
2. Attend the City Council meeting to show neighborhood support
3. Submit written or email testimony before next Weds, 12/10
4. Recruit other neighbors or businesses to participate
5. Forward this message to anyone you think would be interested
City Council Meeting Details
What: RICAP Vote To Improve Division St. Retail Size Limit Regulation
When: Wednesday, December 10th
Time: 3 – 5 p.m.
Where: Council Chambers @ City Hall
1221 SW Fourth Ave.
To review the specific proposal, please see pages 96-97 of the following document: http://www.portlandonline.com/planning/index.cfm?c=44856&a=218732 .
Note: this is a large document and may take a few moments to load.
To Submit Your Written Support To City Council
Letters and emails should include your first and last name and your address. And they should be addressed to: Portland City Commissioners. Submissions should be sent to the Council Clerk by one of the following:
Fax: (503) 823-4571
Mail: Council Clerk
1221 SW Fourth Ave, Room 140
Portland, OR 97204
Submissions to the Council Clerk will be distributed to all Commissioners.
Please contact Neel Pender via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (503) 281-1898 x124 with any questions or if you would like assistance submitting testimony.
City Council will be voting on “RICAP 4,” (Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Package #4) which includes a slight change to the current regulation that limits all retail uses on Division to a maximum of 10,000 square feet. As you may know, this restriction, while well intended to keep out big box retailers like Wal-Mart, has prevented us from replacing Wild Oats with a new fitness center tenant. In addition, the current approvals process has allowed one opponent to use the land use appeals process to delay our project for over two and a half years. This is fundamentally unfair and inefficient.
The proposed regulatory improvement that city council will be considering next Wednesday maintains the 10,000 square foot retail presence on the ground floor, but would allow larger 2nd floor and/or combined floor uses. For example, it would provide the flexibility for the gym (as currently planned) to occupy about 7,600 SF on the ground floor and an additional 12,000 SF on the second floor. This change is important to our project but also reinforces many of the goals outlined in the Division Vision plan.
What This Change Accomplishes
Preserves possibility of locating a pedestrian and bike friendly, full service fitness center comparable to a 24 Hr fitness in the neighborhood;
Promotes sustainability and “green development” by encouraging the re-use (rather than tear down) of buildings with hard to utilize existing 2nd floor space;
Supports healthy economic nodes and surrounding small businesses by preserving opportunity to secure anchor tenants critical for generating ancillary customer traffic;
Provides needed clarity to existing regulation that helps keep process costs down and free up resources to be used to enhance last quality of design and materials in projects;
Decreases the potential for “blight” created by excessively long periods of dormancy when anchors leave in the handful of existing buildings bigger than 10,000 SF (as experienced in this project);
Maintains integrity to original Division Vision goals by promoting diverse streetscape and opportunities for small retail businesses at desirable street level;
Enhances neighborhood livability by increasing ability to attract other uses bigger than 10,000 SF to Division likely to be wanted/supported by the neighborhood, such as a Powell’s Books or McMenamin’s theater/pub.
What This Change Does NOT Do (responses to misconceptions)
Â· Does not allow “big box” retailers such as Wal-Mart to locate on Division. These retail formats typically require 100,000 SF – more than three times the size of an existing building on Division. Moreover, none of the existing buildings impacted by this change could be expanded to accommodate such a use without triggering the existing adjustment process. In other words, there is no ‘real world’ increased risk of a big box retailer locating on Division as a result of this change, but there is real and significant upside to its passage.
Â· Does not create a competitive disadvantage for Loprinzi’s, an existing neighborhood gym. The zoning code is not intended to limit competition — a position upheld in the Planning Commission’s unanimous support for this code amendment. Loprinzi’s is a long standing business with a dedicated clientele that should continue, and depending on their ability as operators, actually could thrive. The neighborhood is currently underserved in terms of access to a modern, full scale fitness center. The fact is many neighbors are already commuting by car across town to seek out comparable facilities or do not belong to any gym but would like a closer option. Like any business, there is no guaranty of success or failure for Gold’s or Loprinzi’s. Ultimately, neighbors vote with their dollars and patronize the businesses they support. This principle includes support for affiliates of national corporations such Edward Jones, Domino’s, or Do It Best Hardware and is also reinforced by the recent failure of Starbucks.
Â· Does not absolutely guaranty that we will be able to move forward with the proposed fitness center. First, while Gold’s Gym remains very interested in the location, our original lease has lapsed and we can not move forward with new negotiations until we have final resolution of this land use issue. Second, and more importantly, broader economic conditions have deteriorated significantly since the project’s inception and there may other factors which jeopardize the viability of the project once land use approval is secure. However, to be clear, we believe that this code change is absolutely worthy and essential.