Archive for the ‘Business & Development’ Category

East and West, joined again?

OK, have you heard about the new bridge yet? Well here’s the scoop: A new bridge is being considered. Big deal, right? We’re Bridgetown, so it makes sense. But there’s a catch: It will carry pedestrians, the train, and perhaps the bus, but NO CARS. And what’s it for? Hooking up Pill Hill and OMSI.

This is the part where I put my warning that the cranky pants are ON.

Here’s the part I don’t understand:

The bridge would link downtown and OHSU, the city’s largest employer, with OMSI, one of its biggest tourist and educational attractions, and with Milwaukie to the south. Carefully sculpted, the span could become a symbol of the region’s aspirations as a national center for design and innovation.

So you want to connect the east side and the west side, but you want to do it south of the Ross Island Bridge? That seems like a good idea, it would be nice to-oh wait, we already DID that, and it’s called the Sellwood Bridge! Remember that one? Yeah, it’s the one that opened in 1925 (yes, that means it’s 82 years young) that was built using pieces of other old bridges. Oh yes. There are parts of the olden Sellwood Bridge that were olden WHEN IT OPENED. And you wonder why there are (I think) ninety-something Tri-Met trips a day that got diverted OFF the Sellwood Bridge? I don’t. And while we’re at it, here’s a tidbit you might be interested in: That bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis? It had a safety rating of fifty. Sellwood Bridge’s rating? TWO.

When I read this story, here’s what I am reading: OHSU got their tram and it wasn’t enough so now they want to walk to OMSI on their lunch hours too. Does Pill Hill have anything to do with OMSI? I mean, once Body Worlds leaves, I don’t know what purpose it would serve to hook the museum to the hospital. I guess I’m supposed to be happy they don’t want a tram extension, but it still doesn’t sit well with me. I can think of other ways to slap up a bridge:

* Build a double decker bridge, bottom for car/bus traffic and top for pedestrians and bikes.
* Build a new bridge next to the Sellwood for cars/buses and repair the Sellwood for bikes/peds.
* Build a bridge directly over the southern part of Ross Island, and put a nice park there Golden Gate style.

And I came up with those without trying very hard. It’s entirely possible I’m missing a key piece of this story somehow but I read the article twice and looked up a couple of other news sources which shed no additional light on the situation for me, so if you know something I don’t, please let me know. Otherwise this is the dumbest thing I’ve heard since last summer when they said Town Center was going to remain completely tore up for the entire holiday season. Is there a thinking person left in a decision making role in this place? </rant>

Macy’s and Frank, finally reopening!

According to their press release and KATU, it’s looking like the Macy’s at Meier & Frank Square (the one downtown) which closed completely for the refurbishment will finally come out from underneath the scaffolding and dumpsters in about a month.

Now there are banners up, advertising the 26th and 27th of October as the grand reopening. There will be a fundraiser to kick it all off, and it looks like they actually did finish in time for the “new” to wear off so people can get Christmas shopping done.

Their press release states they have refurbished the Santaland Monorail, but they stated before that the monorail wouldn’t be operating when they came back, so I’m not sure what they mean, but at least they didn’t get rid of it.

Now if only they weren’t stuck in the middle of bus mall reconstruction so people could actually get there easily….

Itty Bitty Green Cars

I drive down Sandy Blvd to get to work everyday and had been noting the Ecomotion sign on an under construction building at about 16th. From the look of the logo, the location and the space I assumed it was probably some sort of independent auto dealer who specialized in hybrids or diesels or other green minded cars. Then they finally got their showroom set up and I saw all those cute little 3-wheeled electric cars.

They must be open for business now – I do recall dieselboi posting about this a year ago or so (but I can’t seem to find the post…) but I had never actually seen one of these, and now in the past few weeks I have seen several of them driving around in the streets of downtown and Northeast. Plus this morning they had a couple of people standing outside the attached organic coffee shop ‘Hip Drip Cafe’ with signs offering free coffee.

They are really cute and as a short distance commuter car probably make a ton of sense. I’ll be curious to see how successful they are – I hope very! Has anyone driven one or really checked them out?

The Flexcar Membership + Sorry for those by (strip)Mall 205

The Hansel-Hot Flexcar Membership arrived yesterday. Just in time, as I have another wedding to go to this weekend (Congratulations Sarah and Eric –but–Vernonia, what?), and I need to be back to see my/our PSU Vikings (win?!) play their home opener Saturday!

iPhone Photo for

However, for those of you living near (strip)”Club”/”Mall” 205, my friend C-Block (who took this pic) got some sad info from Mr. Brodie today:

Hi Christian, We currently do not have vehicles in the gateway area although it is an area we expect to reach within the next year. You can track our vehicle locations/additions by either checking our “cars & locations” from the web page or by signing up for our “Flexnotes” monthly newsletter, which you can also do at the website. “Flexnotes” has lots of useful information about new locations and other news related to Flexcar.

thanks for your interest,


By the way, if you want to join and hook me up with some driving credit dollars (I hear Vernonia isn’t just outside of Gresham like C-Block), you can use my # as a referral (93449 – much love, I owe you a beer).

The IKEA Tour: Come with Us

Ikea Opening 062It was IKEA Portland Press Day today and bloggers and journalists alike appeared at the massive 280,000 square foot location in Cascade Station near the airport to consume free Swedish food and be among the first to see this most popular of large scale retailers. IKEA set out to impress…and it did. Read on for more details, a few photos and a link to a Flickr album to get your own virtual tour as you prepare for quality, inexpensive goods, lots of traffic and plenty of Swedish meatballs.

Have You Schmapped?

I haven’t spent much time exploring the new (?) online mapping service Schmap as of yet, but it looks like it could be a pretty cool interface, and Portland is one of their featured cities.

I actually only found out about it because they asked to use one of my pictures on one of the restaurant listings for N. Portland’s own Beaterville Cafe (though hello, I’m pretty sure they take cards there). Not many of the listings have pics yet, so I’m guessing they’re still looking for shots — they notified me via Flickr, so if you’ve got photos of local restaurants posted there, check your e-mail on the site.

I don’t often find myself in need of an all-inclusive citywide search thingamabob, but if you’re looking for yet another guide to the city complete with mini reviews and map linkies, Schmap looks like a decent bet.

If it Ain’t Sick, Don’t Fix It

Anybody seen Sicko yet? I haven’t, mostly ’cause I feel like it’ll be preaching to the converted and will just make me depressed about the state of healthcare in America right when I’m supposed to feel pride in our independence.

But then yesterday, my wife got a bill in the mail for some health-related services that just about drove me batty and once again emphasized the need for a simpler, less bureaucratic method of benefits. Of course, this bill wasn’t based on our insurance’s error but rather on the provider themselves, who apparently couldn’t keep their records straight and/or double-check their math before underbilling our insurance (and, um, we pay for insurance so we don’t get bills like this) and rebilling us for something we’d already paid — not to mention the fact that the invoice they sent her, for an eye exam, had a different amount on it than the invoice they sent me a few weeks ago for the exact same thing — and for which they had billed our insurance company in an amount larger than what they indicated on her invoice. I’m still trying to attribute that to their obvious math deficiencies, but it sure looks sketchy. Which is too bad, because their in-office service was pretty great, but we won’t be going back for additional annual exams.

And we have all the documentation and bill-paid records and such that we need in order to straighten everything out, mostly ’cause we’re super-anal about bills and don’t have the extra cash to just be throwing around so go over every bill that comes in with a fine-tooth comb, but I wonder sometimes about people who might just get a bill in the mail and either not be able to get through the accumulated BS of insurance statements vs. provider invoices vs. credit card bill statements or have the time and patience to contest a bill or maybe those who would just say, “Ah, it’s a bill, guess I better pay it.”

Somehow I doubt that Michael Moore — or probably any of the political parties — have the right answer, but I do know some change is needed.

Cutting the Cord

Last week, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I bit the bullet and cancelled my cable service. I just couldn’t justify the $75 expense (digital cable +DVR for HD service/channels) for what was basically five or six channels out of 150 or so that I watched on a regular basis, especially not during the summer when A) most of the seasons are over for shows that I watch and B) there’s no football.

To Comcast’s credit, when I called to cancel, they just said “okay, we can do that for you” with no push for a different tier of service and no question of why I wasn’t satisfied, which I appreciate, even if it may be somewhat contrary in a business sense in some ways — shouldn’t you at least want to note why I’m dropping the service? Anyway, every time I’ve had to deal with their customer-service reps, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and if and when I decide that I need to hook another box up to my TV, I’ll consider going back to Comcast if only for that reason.

We Need A Third Columbia River Bridge

No, I am not talking about a second I-5 bridge.

I’m talking about a bridge over the Columbia between, say, Troutdale, Oregon and Camas, Washington.

As someone who wants fewer vehicles on the road, not more- I’m surprised to witness myself typing these words.

Here’s the problem as I see it. Once you get past I-205 going east, there’s not another vehicular crossing of the Columbia available until Cascade Locks. That’s more than 30 miles.

Problem is that a growing number of people in east Multnomah County, as well as eastern Clark County and Skamania County, Washington, need to make that crossing but do fuel burning doglegs to accomplish this.

I can cite specifics.

New TriMet Policy: MAX Drivers Who Talk to You?

For the past three days, every morning on the ride in to downtown on the MAX, for one reason or another, the driver has popped on the intercom to actually communicate with the passengers. Admittedly, today, it was because she could probably hear the audible growling from all of us caffeine-deprived sardines as we scrunched together in misery due to the fact that TriMet skipped the train that gets folks downtown by 8:00am and she didn’t want to be ripped out of her driver’s seat by the mob, but yesterday it was simply due to a long wait at a light.

In the past two years, I think I’ve only heard the conductor turn on the intercom if it was to yell at someone to not hold the doors open, and even that has happened only a few times, so three days in a row strikes me as odd and/or some new policy from on high.

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