PDC pass 15-story high-rise near Portland State despite zoning conflict

The Portland Design Commission approved the tower, which will hold 424 apartments, an underground parking, a grocery store and other retailers.

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The above-ground square footage comes to nearly 355,200, which is perhaps the figure that most irks the neighbors. The dispute centers on a concept called “floor area ratio,” defined as the relationship between a building’s total floor area and the size of its footprint. Cities use zoning to put limits on floor area ratio and, in the process, regulate the size of new buildings.

The proposed building at Fourth and Harrison would have a floor area ratio of nearly nine to one. The building would fall into two Portland zones, “Central City” and “South Auditorium,” each of which normally limits the ratio to six-to-one.

But in the “Central City” zone, developers can win “bonus” floor area ratio if their projects include a residential use. The Core Spaces proposal is mainly a residential project, so the city is awarding the bonus. The bonus is an extra three-to-one ratio, meaning the Fourth and Harrison proposal falls within the allowed limit.

(READ MORE: Oregon Live)

In related downtown Portland development news, a referendum at PSU is in motion for the Smith 2020 project to remodel the 66-year-old Smith Memorial Student Union building.

Built in four stages beginning in 1950 and concluding in 1960, SMSU has served as the central hub of activity on campus for students and faculty for the last 66 years. The building might be on its last legs, as infrastructural issues have plagued the building’s operations since its inception.

‘Its time has come and gone,’ said Alex Accetta, PSU’s executive director of campus recreation. ‘It just doesn’t meet what our campus and students expect of our university. It’s not sustainable. It’s not accessible. It’s not inclusive. It’s falling apart.’

(READ MORE: Portland State Vanguard)