The Fremont Apartments, named for the bridge whose view they will obstruct, have at least one more hurdle before getting the city’s approval. The Pearl District Neighborhood Association board voted to appeal the project to the City Council at a special meeting Dec. 27.
“We believe it is in the best interest of our community to pursue this appeal,” said PDNA President Stan Penkin, who had earlier noted, “We’re harming the city by destroying these views.”
Although lost views drove public resistance to the proposed 185-foot mixed-use structure by Texas-based Lincoln Property Co., the appeal will focus on unrelated zoning code modifications approved by the Portland Design Commission. Those modifications include exceeding the maximum length of the structure by 31 feet, thereby cramping the public greenway along the Willamette River, and encroaching on the 45-degree stepback angle required on the riverside façade.
The move reflects a change of course for the association, whose planning committee supported the project in November. In early December, the board of directors voted 11-4 to recommend denial.
Board members argued that the organization’s credibility was at stake if it should go along with a project disliked by the vast majority of its constituents.
“The purpose of the neighborhood association is to reflect the general attitudes of the community,” board member David Mitchell said, “not to be a conciliatory body between the citizens and the city.
“If you were to ask Pearl residents and workers [for permission] to build an additional 30 feet into the greenway, it would be 99 to one against. We should make a very strong statement to protect the view and the greenway. That is our role.”
The planning committee, under Co-chair David Dysert, had ignored the view issue as not directly protected by code.
“Because we can’t stop buildings,” Dysert said. “Our goal is to make buildings better.”
He praised the developer for configuring the building to save some of the view.
“It’s only a partial obstruction; it’s not a complete obstruction,” he said. “Most of the bridge will still be visible.”
The board’s motion to oppose the project was supported by Mitchell, Glenn Traeger, Melanie Kuppenbender, Michael Gann, Michael Roberts, Tom La Voie, Ed O’Rourke, Christian Maynard-Philipp, John Hollister, Bill Dolan and Jan Valentine.
The four no votes were by Dysert, Reza Farhoodi, John Warner and Sara Hoeber.
Bill Bagnall abstained.
The board also established a $15,000 fund to cover attorney fees in presenting the appeal, which it anticipates will be scheduled between late January and mid-February.