ZGF Architects and Kaiser Permanente have gone in front of the Design Commission to receive Design Advice on a proposed parking garage and plaza on Block 80 and 81 in the Lloyd District. The project would create 484-stall parking structure, as well as “a pedestrian plaza, covered public seating, space for a lunchtime food cart pod, a new rain garden adjacent to the streetcar station, and a public bicycle parking facility proposed as part of the Lloyd District Bicycle Parking Program”
The proposed garage would serve the existing Kaiser Permanente tower at 500 NE Multnomah St, to the west of the recently completed Hassalo on Eighth development. An existing garage is located on site, however structural issues have prevented Kaiser from using the upper deck of the garage for a number of years. The tower is also served by two surface parking lots, directly to the north across NE Multnomah Street. Due to zoning code rules that limit the amount of surface parking allowed in the Lloyd District, Kaiser would be required to cease using one of the blocks north of Multnomah for parking upon redevelopment of Block 80. That block would be freed up for redevelopment, though Kaiser has no immediate plans to develop the site.
The new garage would involve one level of below grade parking, and one level of at-grade parking. The new plaza would be created on top of the parking below, in alignment with the Hassalo Plaza across NE 7th Ave. A bike parking structure, potentially with photovoltaic panels on its roof, would be created in alignment with NE Hassalo St. In order to screen the parking, a brick wall would be created around the perimeter of the new surface parking. Stormwater plantings would be added along NE 7th Ave, between the screen wall and the existing sidewalk.
A memo [PDF] to the Design Commission, published before the June 2nd hearing, outlined potential areas for discussion. These included: the appropriateness of two additional full block surface–level parking lots in Central City; future development potential and opportunities created by the development on Block 80; the NE Hassalo Plaza design and through connection; the design of the bike parking structure; and the design of the surface parking lot screening walls. Most of the discussion centered around whether the development meets the intent of the Central City Fundamental Guidelines and the Special Design Guidelines for the Lloyd District of the Central City Plan. During the hearing Commission Chair Wark asked whether the new garage meets the intents of the Guidelines created fro the district:
I want to be really supportive of a major company and presence in our community, but I don’t want our community to have to sacrifice for that in some way. Where is the balance?…
We already have a set of Guidelines, that tell us what it should be. I don’t need to say what it should be. I already know what it’s supposed to be, relative to what [Bureau of Development Service Staff] Tim presented, and what’s been in the code books for quite some time. Because the codes are written in a way to reverse the development that started occurring post-war in this area, which was to destroy the grid; be autocentric; and have buildings that are detached from the streetscape. What got sacrificed is the human element in all of that. Right? And so all of these codes now are written to incrementally reverse that. That’s why you have to get rid of a parking lot… because you’re triggering whatever requirement that is. There’s the template. And so, is this following that template or not? Is this following the direction of trying to correct all those past mistakes?
During the hearing the applicants made it clear they see their options as to redevelop the site as proposed, or repair the existing structure at considerable expense. The Design Commission largely expressed the opinion that repair of the existing structure would be preferable, assuming Kaiser is not able to redevelop the site in a more substantial way that would include burying the parking. Should Kaiser choose to move forward with the new garage and plaza the project will be required to go through a Type III Design Review, with public hearings before the Design Commission. If they choose to do repairs to the existing structure, the project would be exempt from Design Review and can move straight into the building permit phase.
Such a waste of land in a central location undergoing rapid transformation, served by multiple transportation modes and close to residential and employment centers. Knock down a parking garage, put up a parking garage.
No no no! This is really awful redevelopment. Turn an existing parking lot into another parking lot?
How about a third option:
Put the two levels of parking below grade, Size the structure for a building of X size above, design a park at grade, then when you’re ready to expand just scrape as much of the park as needed.
OHSU’s Center for Health and Healing is a great example. You can make the below grade garage deeper if you think you’ll want extra capacity when you finish the building above in the future.
This could be a great opportunity to create a healthy environment and visual relief for all the employees working at the existing building, as well as all the new neighbors and surrounding community, for just a bit more than the significant repairs it sounds like the existing garage needs.
Kaiser has had a lower parking level on most of this space for years, so I doubt they really want to destroy the existing lower garage to dig it another level deeper when just extending it must be far cheaper.
This is not just a parking garage replacing a decrepit parking garage – their little land banking park is going to be consumed as part of this. No more bocce lunch hours.
It’s upsetting that a health care organization would be trying to add parking in a neighborhood that has been trying to promote alternatives to the private automobile. I started working for Kaiser at the KPB, and ran its pool cars for employees who did not regularly drive to work and its free annual transit pass program, shortly after the creation of the Lloyd TMA. At the time, they understood that promoting the private car was antithetical to improving the neighborhood and no benefit to the health of its insureds.
Here’s what the TMA’s founder, Rick Williams, reported the founders were trying to do in when they started:
“In 1994, property owners and businesses within the Lloyd District in Portland, Oregon initiated a
partnership with the City of Portland and TriMet to effect significant changes in commute mode
choices over a 20-year period. The resulting plan, adopted as the Lloyd District Partnership
Plan, was a comprehensive partnership agreement intended to manage growth while preserving
and enhancing livability and access for this growing inner-city area. The recommended
package of inter-related programs and strategies included:
Improved transit service.
Improved access and amenities for bicycling and walking.
Maximum parking ratios for new office and retail development.
Managing and limiting the supply of parking on large surface parking lots.
Development of a plan for installing parking controls and parking meters in the district to
eliminate free on and off-street commuter parking spaces.
Agreements by the private sector to support and implement employee transit subsidy
Establishment of a private sector funding program through formation of a Business
Creation of the Lloyd Transportation Management Association (LTMA) as a local, nonprofit
business organization that would act as both a forum and catalyst to implement the
Lloyd District Partnership Plan and its associated employer based transportation
Sharing of parking meter revenues, through the LTMA to support transportation and
parking services within the Lloyd District.”
My supervisor at Kaiser was very involved in all of that. Apparently changes in opinions have followed changes in management.
This is a terrible idea. At 4pm the office workers leave and the neighborhood is deserted. . . .except for the pioneers (guinea pigs?) who have moved into the new residential buildings, trying to make the concrete jungle “livable”. The park that is here now is very nice during the day. Filled with office workers eating lunch. Nice place to walk my dog. At 4pm, they leave and the teenagers move in, not as nice to walk my dog – but doable. At sunset, the drug users buy their heroin on Grand/MLK and come to the park to shoot up and pass out. Not a nice place at all. With the proposed design, it will be nothing but concrete (I’m sorry, ripping up the grass and putting a few sapling trees in does not make it a “green” space). Putting covers in will give the heroin users a place out of the rain. The pictures look like there will several places for muggers to hide at night. Brick walls facing 7th avenue will cause the traffic noise to bounce back into Hassalo on 8th and make 7th avenue even less attractive to walk down. Just build an underground garage and cover the top with grass. Keep it simple.