What is the issue with Providence?

The subject of Providence Portland Medical Center and the current review of the next 10-year-Master Plan was the last item on the agenda last night at the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association general meeting. Gary Naylor, Neighborhood Representative, reviewed the issues (no word yet on how our neighborhood representatives will vote on this in their response to the City Staff, Douglas Hardy.) and then one woman asked, “So, could you tell us in clear language . . . what do neighbors object to?

It occurred to me that almost no one has seen the actual 300+ page document that Providence is required to provide the City and the representatives of the neighborhood associations, so no wonder it’s not clear what the problems and issues are. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the document, so here’s a lay-person’s recap for you….just the high points.

  1. The Main Hospital will eventually be dismantled and a new Tower will go up, matching the Cancer Center in height and size.
  2. The Professional Plaza where 160 doctors practice in their outpatient practices will be expanded to the East, causing closure of NE 52nd and nearly doubling the size of the existing building. Maybe not double, but close! That would mean potentially 250 doctors or more. I estimate that each doctor sees 3 patients an hour and works an average 7 hour day. That’s 5,250 outpatients a day. I wonder how many of them drive.
  3. Plans are included to rework the intersection at NE 49th & Glisan, the Main Entrance to the PPMC campus. No plans for intersection improvements at NE 47th & Glisan.
  4. A Medical Office Building on the northwest corner of NE 47th & Glisan, where the two existing office buildings are now. Bill Hamilton, neighbor on Hoyt, has studied this lot extensively and estimates at present that the buildings cover 40% of the surface area of the lot. See Bill’s letter. Providence has plans to bring the building closer to the sidewalk than the code allows now and build it to 65 ft tall on the Hoyt Side of the property. There are a kazillion reasons that this is a bad idea, all of which come back to neighbors bearing the brunt of the Providence expansion.
  5. Plans call for a Skybridge to cross 47th from the 65’ tall medical office building over to the main hospital. Someone approached me after the meeting last night and reported that the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability had originally said no to a skybridge in our neighborhood but that the City Council came back and instructed that Providence should have their skybridge. Gee thanks, Commissioners!
  6. Providence is asking for permission to build 464 more parking spaces, even though they say they might not need them and even though their current parking is at 80% capacity (per their report).

Why does any of this matter? To what do we object?

Our property values will diminish . . . certainly true for those of us on the front lines. I can imagine that once upon a time the homes nearest Providence were valued the highest, they bordered on a golf course. Now, it’s the other way around and growing worse as Providence looms larger in the sky and wider on the ground.

Our streets will become even more clogged. I estimate that nearly 6,000 cars a day arrive at Providence. Despite touting a new sustainability program focused on recyclable materials, landfill reduction, and food waste reduction, Providence doesn’t seem to make the link that reducing car traffic will make them even more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Not to mention, neighbor-friendly!

Our neighborhood will not enjoy the retail/shops part of a strong neighborhood like nearly every other small hub in the city. We are being covered over in medical office buildings and more medical office buildings.

Welcome to Providence Village . . . would you now please pay your taxes?

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