The Pearl District’s north end is shaping up to house some of the tallest housing projects in Portland history.
Even if all eight residential buildings planned for the area known as the North Pearl are built, longtime neighborhood advocate Patricia Gardner 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.”
When the PDC first created the River District Urban Renewal Area (now more commonly known as the Pearl District) in 1994, it envisioned 5,500 apartments, condos, and town houses. As of 2013, 9,085 units had been built, most in buildings six stories or shorter. But as the 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.
Among the results: two planned buildings that hark back to the towering days of Portland’s first urban renewal area—the 1950s’ South Auditorium District—and to the so-called “point towers” of Vancouver, British Columbia.