Neighbors: 8 stories too tall for N. Portland

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Neighbors protest a north Portland condo complex Wednesday, June 26, 2013. They say they'll be showing up in front of city council Thursday to protest the necessary zoning changes. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — People opposed to a big new condominium complex planned for north Portland will go before Portland’s city council Thursday.

They’ll try to get city commissioners to deny a zoning change that would clear the way for an eight-story condominium complex at the corner of N. Williams Avenue and N. Fremont Street.

Development on N. Williams has been on the rise, with the 72-unit, four-story Albert Condominium building finished last year, a new Whole Foods going in across the street and now plans for this eight-story condominium building.

“We were shocked,” said north Portland resident Kevin Retalia. “Everybody in the neighborhood was very shocked that there would even be that consideration to it.”

Retalia and his girlfriend live four houses away from where the proposed condominium would be built. He is quick to point out he is not opposed to a building here — he’s merely opposed to one that’s eight stories high.

“It would dwarf the neighborhood,” Retalia said. “It would be the biggest building for miles around.”

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North Portland neighbors tried to run a string of helium-filled red balloons eight stories into the air to illustrate just how high the development would be Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

They tried to run a string of helium-filled red balloons eight stories into the air to illustrate just how high the development would be. However, the wind blew that idea sideways. People who stopped by got the message anyhow.

“I really just think it changes the whole demeanor of the neighborhood — having an eight story monolith in your back yard,” said Alise Munson, who opposes the height of the project.

For Teletha Benjamin, who attends church nearby, “it is ridiculous to want to put a building that high.”

Benjamin said she’s concerned the size of the development doesn’t fit the surrounding neighborhood.

“It’s not that people are against change,” she said. “It’s the change that’s occurring that has no respect for what has existed here.”

Not everyone is opposed. Stephen Judkins purchased a house in this north Portland neighborhood a year ago and said empty lots on N. Williams Avenue do need to be developed. He also said N. Williams is well served by TriMet and is a popular bike route — all reasons he said the development at the corner of Fremont and Williams should be built.

“People talk about being environmentalists and all these things,” said Stephen Judkins, who supports the project, “but when it comes to changes, that will maybe hurt them a little bit, people are much less likely to approve of them.”

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