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Sustainability Center looks at cheaper design

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High Five
Thursday, May 12, 2011

The price tag of the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center has dropped to $64.6 million after eight months of redesign.

Although the new design comes at a significantly lower cost than the original $75 million plans, critics still question whether such a high price tag can be truly sustainable.

All that innovation comes at a cost. The city and the Oregon State University system are partnering on financing the center, with $45.2 million in bonds, $6.7 million in urban renewal money, $3 million in cash from the university, and $2.5 million in state and federal tax credits. Rerouting the streetcar alone will cost $4 million, a little bit less than the project's persistent $5 million budget gap. Planners argue the cost is worth it to showcase—and expand—green building technology in Portland.

"There's a premium to being a prototype and the first of a kind," says Lisa Abuaf, project manager for the Portland Development Commission, who compares it to the city's aggressive pursuit of LEED green-building certification for publicly owned buildings. "We want this to be a replicable model for private industry, so the premium will come down."

Read more at the Portland Mercury.

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