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Nonprofit sells land to Portland Development Commission


The Portland Development Commission agreed last month to purchase three parcels of land, totaling about 1.5 acres, from Human Solutions, a nonprofit that develops and manages low-income housing in east Portland.

The site consists of property at 9929 and 9999 N.E. Glisan St. and 618 N.E. 99th Ave. Human Solutions had intended to build on the land, but now cannot afford to do this or to continue to meet its mortgage payments, Executive Director Jean DeMaster said. Human Solutions operates the Helping Hands Community Store at the site.

Staffer Karl Dinkelspiel told the PDC that Human Solutions originally paid quite a bit more for the property than the $1.9 million PDC purchase price based on current value. The property, zoned RXD for high-density housing, has a maximum height limit of 120 feet. It is a 10-minute walk from either the Gateway Transit Center or Fred Meyer and 15 minutes away from Mall 205, making it ideal for residential development.

John Charles, director of the Cascade Policy Institute, an anti-density, anti-mass-transit think tank, took last month's hearing as an opportunity to testify against transit-oriented development in general. The creation of the MAX light rail line did little to stimulate high-intensity development along its route; what has occurred happened due to subsidies such as the Transit Oriented Development tax abatement program. Even this hasn't done much to get people out of their cars because, he asserted, based on his personal observations, most people in such housing drive. In fact, he said, “Light rail is a traffic generator” because commuters drive to access it.

Regarding the site in question Charles said, “I don't think of it as blighted.” It contains three buildings, one of which is a single-family home, and there's “nothing wrong with it except that it stands in the way of some planner's vision.” He concluded, “You're putting a lot of money into a scheme that won't work.”

The PDC thanked Charles for sharing his ideas before voting unanimously to approve the purchase.
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