Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Vestas giveaway - weeding out the chaff

Vestas' view

The hype and other BS is circulating much like chaff in the wind - the vision of the facts is obscured by the grandiloquence of our "leaders." The Oregonian had the most comprehensive article. But all in all it still takes the reading of many media reports to get the complete picture. Yet, the media seems to have forgotten to even check its own archives or even do a Google search.

At best this agreement is a leasing agreement whereby Vestas, a wind turbine builder headquartered in Denmark, is moving with some consolidation of their nearly 400 Portland employees from downtown Portland to the Pearl. Vestas recently cut 15 employees in Portland. Vestas has 22,392 employees worldwide. Portland is their North American sales and service headquarters.

Vestas media release states that "the cost for developers is estimated at $66 million." However, it is taxpayers via the city and state that are paying for the development of this Gerding Edlen building. No where is it mentioned the leasing costs to Vestas. One assumes that it isn't free.

The present structure is 4 stories (160,000 sq. ft.) plus a basement (40,000). The proposed structure is to be a "refurbished five-story office building containing four floors of office space (approximately 133,000 net leasable square feet) and one floor of parking using hydraulic parking stackers totaling 183 parking spaces."

The fifth floor is more like a penthouse at 22,000 sq. ft.  Each of the other floors are 40,000 sq. ft. And, the parking floor apparently has the flexibility of being converted to office space. All in all in the most "glass is half full" view, with this conversion Vestas has the flexibility to expand to a total of 850 employees.

Take a look at this building, vacant for a decade, as it is shown on Portlandmaps - how does it rate as a historic building? Ironically,  the historic designation apparently conflicted with Vestas' desire to install wind turbines.

It is an unremarkable building. [Take a Google walk and see for yourself.] Even with the new design it still seems unremarkable. The design is limited by the historic designation (apparently for its facade). [See National Register of Historic Places.] Ironic too is that the building was added to the register only in 2000 apparently for the tax incentive, otherwise it probably could have been demolished with a resulting structure much more exciting.

"The design [left over - not one for Vestas] has been approved in accordance with State of Oregon and Federal historic guidelines." [PDC]. One wonders how this occurred and whether this converted structure will get a pass from the Portland Historic Commission? Oh - silly me - it Gerding Edlen.