Slabtown Plan Committee

In November 2011, the Slabtown Plan Committee was dissolved. Further work on the Slabtown development process will be conducted by the Con-way Master Planning Working Group, which consists of Ron Walters, Steve Pinger, Don Genasci, John Bradley, and Phil Sellinger.

July 23, 2015 Official Planning Committee Minutes Votes in Bold

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2015-07-23 NWDA Planning Cte

Main Topic:  Slabtown Square Letter to DC from NWDA – Discussion about draft (originally prepared by J. Long, edited by K. Karlsson, S. Pinger, W. Chung and G. Theissen).

DRC 2015 08 20 – Block 290 Slabtown Square

Photos of Physical Model of Proposed Slabtown Square

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Square_Model Square_Model_1

July 9, 2015 Official Planning Committee Minutes Votes in Bold

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2015-07-23 NWDA Planning Cte

Main topics:

1) 1727 NW Hoyt (Ballow & Wright Building) – Proposed Boutique Hotel

2) Conway Square (at block 290)

July 2, 2015 Unofficial Planning Committee Notes (Not Minutes)

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2015-07-02 NWDA Planning Cte (2)

Main Topics:

1) ESCO Rezoning Request

2) Slabtown Square – Letter to DC Proposed by J. Long

Slabtown Square Draft Letter with T. Cruz Comments 6-30-15

June 18, 2015 Official Planning Committee Minutes Votes in Bold

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2015-06-18 NWDA Planning Cte WC

Main topics:

  1. HRI neighborhood delegation to city meeting
  2. Conway Square
  3. International Hostel

6/15/15 Proposed Motions to NWDA Board by R. Walters Concerning Slabtown Square

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NWDA Board Meeting
Monday, June 15, 2015
Slabtown Square Planning Information and Motions
Motion 1: Motion to submit the following position letter to BDS, Design Commission, and Amanda Fritz

NWDA is troubled that it did not receive notification from the City in advance of DAR #2 for Block 290W, the Slabtown neighborhood square. Given the increasingly important role of DAR’s in the design review process, it is a particularly disturbing oversight by BDS. NWDA is further disappointed that the applicant, which has portrayed itself as having collaborated with the neighborhood, did not submit documents to NWDA for review in advance of the DAR. It is impossible for NWDA and other members of the public participate in the design review process if they do not receive reasonable notification AND documentation that is to be presented at the DAR. Given ONI requirements for developing testimony, NWDA should receive notification with documentation at least two weeks in advance of a DAR and other hearings before Design Commission.

With that in mind, in advance of the first Design Commission hearing for Block 290W, the NWDA Board of Directors wishes to be on record in opposition to the applicant’s proposal and all proposed amendments to the Conway masterplan. The current proposal shows a gross disregard for the terms and intentions of the masterplan, which was developed and agreed upon by Conway, the City, and NWDA less than three years ago. NWDA looks forward to working with the applicant, Con-way, and the City to create a revised plan for the Slabtown Square.
Motion 2: Motion to expand, reorganize, and formalize the Square working group.

Move to formally add the following members to the Square working group: Karen Karlsson, Ron Walters, and a representative to be determined by each NWDA committee. Establish a chair or co-chairs who will organize and manage the working group. Determine if the working group will be a sub-committee of the Planning Committee, an ad hoc Committee of the Board, or something else.

In the fall of 2008, NWDA representatives began participating in a Con-way private task force organized to solicit neighborhood input and brainstorm development scenarios and desired public amenities for roughly 20 acres of Con-way owned property in the Slabtown area of Northwest Portland. In May 2009, due to the economic downtown, Con-way put the task force on hiatus to focus on its core business.

On August 17, 2009, in response to the City’s plans to include the Con-way area in a Portland Design Commission (PDC) Urban Renewal Area (URA), the NWDA Board created the ad hoc Slabtown Plan Committee to lead a community-driven planning exercise to proactively develop an urban design concept for the greater Slabtown Area. Overt the course of 15 months, the Committee, which included representatives of Con-way, Legacy, and St. Mark’s Church, conducted two surveys and hosted five planning workshops attended by hundreds of citizens. On December 13, 2010, the NWDA Board approved the Slabtown Urban Design Concept as a “planning tool that enhances and refines the Northwest District Plan.”

On December 1, 2011, after plans for a URA were cancelled and as the economy began to recover, Con-way sought design advice at the first of three Design Advice Requests (DAR) to develop a City-approved Masterplan that would define development of its company-owned properties. NWDA actively participated in development of the Masterplan for more than 15 months.

The Masterplan, formally approved with NWDA’s support in August 2012, described the collaboration as follows:

Con-way has actively engaged with the NWDA through the development
of the Con-way Master Plan document, to accomplish the following goals:

• Integrating the vision of the Slabtown Urban Design Concept,
an NWDA planning tool that looked to enhance the Northwest
District plan.
• Weekly meetings with the NWDA looked to achieve an open and
collaborative process.
• Collaboration looked to focus on both quantitative (heights,
density, uses, open spaces and massing) and qualitative (quality
and character) issues.
Block 290W: The Slabtown Neighborhood Square

The Con-way masterplan requires the development of a neighborhood square on the 200 x 200 foot parcel on the east side of NW 21st Avenue between NW Pettygrove and NW Quimby. It is the parcel immediately north of Joe’s Cellar. The masterplan dedicates 45 pages to the development and design standards and criteria for parks and open spaces, including the neighborhood square.

In 2014, Con-way assigned the development rights of Block 290 to Guardian Real Estate Services of Portland, Oregon. In November 2014, the NWDA Planning created a sub-committee to engage with Guardian and Con-way in a collaborative planning exercise to seek common ground on the design of the square. The sub-committee consisted of Don Genasci, Steve Pinger, Ron Walters, and Suzanne Lennard, a resident of the Pearl who has a professional background in the design of public spaces. Ron Walters lead the sub-committee briefly but resigned shortly after it was formed due to differences over the composition and management of the sub-committee. Since early 2015, the sub-committee has operated with three members.

The first Design Advice Request (DAR) Design Commission hearing for Block 290W was held April 23, 2015. The applicant (Guardain) is proposing a design that will require numerous significant amendments to the masterplan. Three of the four original members of the Square sub-committee offered personal testimony at the DAR. The fourth original member provided NWDA testimony that had not been approved by the NWDA Board or Planning Committee.

A second DAR was held on June 11, 2015. NWDA did not receive notification from the City. The applicant did not share its revised application or seek input from NWDA in advance of the DAR. No one from NWDA attended or provided testimony. NWDA President Tavo Cruz has complained to the City, which has acknowledged the oversight. It is unclear what actions will be taken to remedy the situation. The applicant appears to have forgone its collaboration efforts with NWDA.

Next Steps for NWDA

Ron Walters believes that NWDA needs to regroup immediately to dramatically improve the effectiveness of its advocacy and negotiating strategy for a favorable design of the square. The design proposed at last Thursday’s DAR is not widely or strongly supported by NWDA and needs dramatic improvement before it could be supported.

First, NWDA must be to go on record with a strong, clear message in opposition to the current proposal. Even if some aspects of the proposal have merit and would be supported in isolation, NWDA needs to re-establish a strong negotiating position that is based on opposing amendments sought by the applicant. Without numerous significant amendments, the proposed project is not possible.

NWDA fought hard for a Masterplan that has strong standards and guidelines that generally work in our favor. Let’s not give them away easily. NWDA can always make concessions and compromises during the design review process but it will not be able to put the genie back in the bottle if concession are made too early in the design review process. Motion 1 proposes language for a letter to BDS and Design Commission to establish a strong position that can be refined in the coming weeks and months.

Second, NWDA needs to re-organize its efforts to improve its effectiveness. I believe the design and negotiating process will benefit from a larger, more diverse working group that represents all of the NWDA’s committees and benefits from a broader skill set and perspectives. Currently, the Square sub-committee consists of two members of the Planning Committee – both architects – and an expert adviser from outside the neighborhood. We need a larger group with representatives from all of the NWDA’s committees. The group should operate more openly, hold regular meetings open to the public, and coordinate more closely with the Board and each of the Committees. Motion 2 strives to strengthen NWDA’s approach, processes, and effectiveness to improve the design of the Slabtown neighborhood square.

Third, as soon as possible, NWDA’s square working group should develop a comprehensive list of issues that need to be addressed before NWDA will support the proposal for Block 290W. There are at least 20 significant issues, many of which appear on the back-of-the-napkin list at the end of this document.
Back-of-the-Napkin list of issues to be resolved by Square Working Group:

1. Four-sided square has potential to feel and function like private courtyard (must feel public)
2. Connection to park needs to be dramatically improved (size, design, sky bridge; 2-3 people commented at the public meeting that square could/should open to park)
3. Size of square (16,000 ft2, minimum of 100 ft per side is required; latest proposal does not meet standard and likely measures door-to-door rather than building to building
4. Building heights are too high (If four-sided, limit to 5N-5E-4S-3E floors max to make heights proportional to square size and optimize sun access)
5. Max 3:1 FAR on 200 x 200 ft2 is 120,000 ft2 (developer proposing >180,000 ft2. Way too much!)
6. Top floor set backs needed to improve proportions
7. Variety of housing needed (already too many generic 6-story apartments in neighborhood; need some for sale units to create ownership; affordable housing desired; 2 and 3 BR units desired)
8. Prevent or minimize incursion into park – Proposed 30 feet incursion reduces the size of the park by 6,000 ft2
9. Prevent or minimize incursion into Quimby (Narrows festival street to dark alley)
10. Should entire ped way be narrowed; what does public get as concession for extra available ft2?
11. How will ped way terminate at Square?
12. Garage, service, and loading should not be on Pettygrove (Should be Raleigh but Quimby will have to do)
13. Architectural style is awful and doesn’t meet guidelines (needs to be “Slabtown” and European-inspired)
14. More balconies on park and square for utility and “eyes on the street”
15. Square must be “Historically significant iconic focal point” (what is historically significant and iconic about current design?)
16. Narrow, two-sided, glass ground floor retail may prove unusable and undermine intended function of square
17. Is ground floor arcade set backs desirable? (Introduced to “increase” size of square for calculation purposes)
18. Make first floor roof on south building public (or accessible to public) not just a private amenity for residents
19. Where is the marketplace? Library? Civic uses? Community center? Public benefits?
20. How to enhance NW Pettygrove as a green street and connection between Wallace Park and parks in the Pearl
21. Design for safety and livability issues (Safety & Livability Committee; garbage containers, A-frames, publication boxes, lighting, etc.)
22. Clean diesel construction (Air Quality Committee)

May 21, 2015 Unofficial Planning Committee Notes (Not Minutes)

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Main topic:  Conway Square

2015-05-21 NWDA Planning Cte (1)

Slabtown Square – Public Meeting, Wed. April 29

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Slabtown Square Development Public Outreach Meeting
5:30-6:45 p.m. Wednesday April 29th
Legacy Good Samaritan Auditorium
Building 2
1040 NW 22nd

The NWDA Planning Committee will report the status of the design of the Slabtown Neighborhood Square. All members of the public are encouraged to attend to provide input.

April 23, 2015 Official Planning Committee Minutes Votes in Bold

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2015-04-23 NWDA Planning Cte WC


Main topics:

  1. NW 16th & Marshall
  2. Conway Square

Block 290 – Square (Drawings)

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Block 290

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