Even if all eight residential buildings planned for the area known as the North Pearl are built, Patricia Gardner (President of the PDNA) thinks the neighborhood still won't add enough units. "Each leaves three or four floors on the table," she says of sizes the developers could build to, but are choosing not to. "Together, that's a whole building not being built."
As the Pearl District marched north of NW Lovejoy Street, the city -- with the Pearl District Neighborhood Association's blessing -- completely removed height limits. "We wanted to embrace urbanity," says Gardner.
To some Portlanders, these buildings may seem big. But not to Gardner. "I have had the fortune of traveling a lot and living in many cities," she says. "I look at Portland, and I see a town that is relatively short."
"Pile driving hits a nerve"
The Pearl District Neighborhood Association has steadfastly treated pile driving as the cost of progress. PDNA President Patricia Gardner, an architect, said piling driving has been employed for all but one major building since the Pearl became a residential district.
“They all had pile driving,” said Gardner, noting The Gregory as the one exception. “That’s all they can do. The reality is we’re on fill.”
Gardner concedes that pile driving harms livability, but most longtime Pearl residents have borne it without complaint.
“It definitely is a quality of life issue, and it always has been,” she said. “What people have done is grit their teeth.”
She called the giant auger method “ridiculously expensive.”
“I get it; people complain,” she said. “People complain about a lot of things. Just because someone complains doesn’t mean we have to take it
on. We would just end up fighting all the time. Where the slippery slope leads is: We don’t want to see more development.”
“What do they want us to do, stop construction?” asked PDNA board member Yasmine Foroud, whose opinion of more development is unalloyed:
“It’s all good.”
Two PDNA board members suggested a more supportive approach toward Block 17 neighbors, but no action was taken.