Keeping it real (estate)

I see that the new president of Portland State University has made it her top priority to get right on the central mission of the school: keeping the construction mafia busy. Now PSU has decided that it's going to be the one to replace Keller Auditorium, in a new complex to be built on the site of the former no-tell motel the university has owned for a few years on once-beautiful Lincoln Street.

“Portland State University has been and will continue to be a powerful force in the revitalization of downtown Portland,” said PSU President Ann Cudd. “Our proposal looks toward building for the future of this great city, not renovating its past.”

PSU's proposal includes a new 3,000-seat auditorium, an outdoor plaza, an on-site boutique hotel, a conference center and educational facilities — all in downtown. According to the university, their proposal is the only one, aside from renovations at the Keller, that would keep the venue downtown.

Given the state of downtown, is that supposed to be a good thing?

On the other side of the deal, it's obvious that the suits at Metro and City Hall have given up on the Keller, which is actually a nice old building. "It needs new climate control, seismic upgrades, very expensive," blah blah blah, the usual. I'm sure it will be torn down for another worthless apartment bunker. Don't it always seem to go...

But you have to laugh at the Portland State obsession with the real estate development. Enrollment is down, and you rarely hear the suits talking about student or faculty achievement, but every Hoffman Construction crane they get up in the air is somehow a crowning achievement:

PSU isn't new to the development game; they've renovated or built eight projects in the central city within the past 12 years, including the $111 million Vanport Building, which the city of Portland co-owns with three other entities. The university said the building now has a total value over $600 million.

What the ever-loving heck does that have to do with education? Beats me.

It wasn't always this way. A decade or two ago, PSU had a much different mission: employing washed-up politicians. That seems to have simmered down a bit, or at least ducked under the ever-shrinking local media radar.

And of course, it will always be their role to stamp out legions of know-nothing 20-somethings with "urban planning" degrees who will march down the street and take jobs in the city bureaucracy, thus becoming the precious arrogantsia of the future. It's the Portland circle of life.


  1. It doesn’t appear that any growth in tax revenue will keep up with the growth in government spending. The pending teacher strike should be a lesson.

  2. It's all about debt financing. The economy would crater within weeks if they turn off the spigot. That's why they are already starting up the next war- fun times.

  3. more greedy snouts at the trough. At least they aren't proposing housing. Proposing housing guarantees public money falls like manna at the weasels' feet.


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