Portland history

An unappreciated mid-century spot in Milwaukie

Downtown Milwaukie is experiencing major changes to its downtown core. From the south Downtown area (there’s an actual crane up in Milwaukie) with two huge mixed-use projects up within a couple of years, to a new library, to more mixed-use dotted along McLoughlin, downtown will look different in 2-3 years. It hasn’t seen this much growth and construction probably since after WW2.

That said, Milwaukie has an impressive stock of mid-century ranch homes sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods that have remained unscathed in their original condition.

Many commercial mid-century buildings also dot the landscape from super-mod churches to office buildings to bowling alleys.

One mid-century building still standing is the (now former) Milwaukie Cleaners building. Almost invisible, since it sits on a desolate part of Main street (most people usually drive by it to hop on 99) it was built in 1959 and designed by Joseph H. Rudd & Associates, a Portland architecture firm. The streamlined design and folded plate roof were commonly found on dry cleaners of the time. The space is a bit striking and unusual, most notably that roof.

According to Leesa Gratreak, MS, Architectural Historian, at HDR, Joseph H. Rudd & Associates was started by Joseph H. Rudd in 1950 after completing his degree in architecture at the University of Oregon. Rudd, originally born in Idaho in 1922, was active in local philanthropy and housing boards in Portland, as well as an active member of the city planning committee in Vancouver, Wash. Rudd continued to design with the firm until his retirement in 1990 and he passed away in 2003.

Examples of additional work include Yaw’s Top Notch Restaurant in Portland; quarters for the Sisters of St. Dominic on the Marycrest High School campus in Portland; a U.S. National Bank Building on Division Street in Portland; as well as numerous residential buildings throughout the Portland metro area.

“The building is an excellent example of mid-century plate glass design and exhibits a folded plate roof and decorative concrete block patterning,” says Gratreak. “The roof is considered a common feature associated with dry cleaners as it allowed a wide overhang for items to be safely transferred into the vehicle.”

Once Milwaukie Cleaners closed shop, the future of the building remained unknown. Just recently, tell-tale signs of a new business showed up—brown paper on the windows—with word on the street that new tenants will be involved in the budding CBD industry.

Want to see downtown Milwaukie’s building history up close? Gratreak will be leading a tour of downtown Milwaukie this Saturday. Go here to sign up.

August 30, 2018: Weekly design and building news

Here's a roundup of building, design and development news around Portland. 

The Redd ready to open
The Redd by Ecotrust will take up two city blocks and function as an "urban ecosystem for the regional food economy."  In its final phase of construction, it's expected to open for full operation by the end of the year.  Here's a feature from Lost Oregon a couple years back on its history and vision. 

 The red Redd.  Source.  

The red Redd. Source. 

The Portland Plaza gets a facelift
The Portland Plaza just finished its 10-year, $10 million renovation and Brian Libby from Portland Architecture has an in-depth look. 

When it was completed in 1973, just three years after the Keller Fountain (known then as the Forecourt Fountain), the idea of contemporary or luxury living in Portland, especially in a tower, was new.
 Portland Plaza and Lawrence Halprin's Keller Fountain put on a show via a postcard.

Portland Plaza and Lawrence Halprin's Keller Fountain put on a show via a postcard.

O'Bryant Square closed until ...2023?
The DJC is reporting that the redevelopment of downtown Portland's O'Bryant Square may take until 2023. The public space has been shuttered since March due to structural issues. The fence is so welcoming, too. 

 O'Bryant Square in better times, circa 1976.

O'Bryant Square in better times, circa 1976.

Urban walking isn’t just good for the soul. It could save humanity
That's not my headline —it's from the Guardian, and it's a good one. The nugget: walking around cities is good for your health and it's good for the businesses that inhabit downtowns. You just don't see the details when you're driving. Case in point: Hopping off the Orange Line at PSU yesterday to watch the Timbers (win, whew), we strolled up Jefferson to the Goose Hollow Inn for a pre-match beer. The furthest I'd been up Jefferson was OHS, but as we walked I was surprised that I'd never been on this stretch before. Just when you think you've seen every block in downtown.

On display: Vintage 1970s Douglas Fir model of downtown Portland

This totally escaped my radar but there’s a vintage 1970s Douglas Fir model of downtown Portland on display as part of Converge 45’s installation of Ann Hamilton's, Habitus, at Centennial Mill through September 16.

In the early days of Portland’s downtown renaissance, Portland planners created a civic ritual for thinking about new development: including this crafted Douglas fir model of the city. For years, as a requirement of design review, developers and architects were required to bring any proposed downtown building, scaled in white cardboard, and place in the city model.

Randy Gragg is currently working on an exhibit idea to combine it with new “models” of other districts of the city—current or aspired to—for Design Week Portland 2019.

If you’re not busy 8/28 or 8/30, Gragg will also be presenting some ideas to “inspire community groups, developers, designers and leaders to think about the larger context of their districts and their city.”

Here’s a quick schedule

August 28: 5:30-7 pm, Tuesday, August 28—Short talk at 6

August 30: Noon-1:30 pm—Short talk at 12:30

Where: Centennial Mills, NW Naito Parkway & NW 9th Avenue (Look for the signs leading to Converge 45 and Habitus)

Please RSVP: randygraggprojects@gmail.com

Crowdfunding a neighborhood hang-out: Ye Olde Towne Crier

Crowdfunding for retrofitting local buildings is one intriguing idea. I like it for a couple of reasons: One, the return is making your own neighborhood better or more livable and two the return is pretty immediate. You invest in a building around the corner, you can see the work being done daily. I also like it because you don’t have to invest handfuls of cash—for a crowdfunding site like NextSeed, the minimum is $100. Throw in an adaptive reuse component and it sounds even more appealing.

 Rendering of the new version.  Source.

Rendering of the new version. Source.

This brings us to a local project in Portland (in Woodstock): the Ye Olde Towne Crier (you might know it better as Grandma’s, copious smoking, and karaoke). Here’s the scoop: Tacee Webb, who has a 19 year career in retail, real estate and retail development, is retrofitting the space and naming it (actually going back to its original name) Ye Olde Towne Crier. The goal is to retrofit it “as a multi-level ode to Portland’s past and its current residents, a place to chat and dine among one another and enjoy the city’s brightest talent.” 

So, why NextSeed? According to their website, “investing isn’t just for Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Everyone can now access exclusive investment opportunities and build a financial portfolio with local businesses.” The company focuses on helping consumer-facing, brick-and-mortar businesses in the food and beverage, health and wellness, fitness, hospitality and co-working industries.

 Towne Crier, 1953.  Source. 

Towne Crier, 1953. Source. 

And, according to Webb, by using NextSeed, “the risk is being absorbed so you don’t have to lose your house. It’s a higher risk for start-ups; this lets them get investors in a less riskier way.” 

The project currently has raised $13,900 by 30 investors.

Webb hopes the Towne Crier will become a community gathering and destination spot as well as a local hangout for students of the Reed College neighborhood and locals from the Creston-Kenilworth community. The attached Treasury Cafe and Lounge will provide morning-evening service. Nighttime entertainment will include live music and whisky tastings featuring local musicians and artisans. Preeminent spirits expert Stuart Ramsay will oversee curation of the bar program.

“There are so many stories and it feels like a patchwork quilt that’s perfect for a community project," says Webb. "There are many former customers in their 60s and 70s that have some great stories and we think it will help provide a sense of a place for them." 

The new space will also be a sort of repository for lost Portland restaurant artifacts: The stained glass windows are from Embers, the vintage neon Lounge sign (and its HVAC system) comes from The Overlook, while chandeliers from Der Rheinlander will grace the ceiling. 

If you’re interested in helping fund the project (or any project), NextSeed provides some pretty decent details, from key terms, location analysis, and revenue sharing summary.

If you’re interested in retrofitting an old building in your own neighborhood, NextSeed is a good start. It doesn't actually finance real estate purchases (Webb owns the building; she purchased it in 2017) but it can help you get on the path, and you’re going to need to be nailed down with your financials and have some semblance of a business plan (this is real estate, not a widget you’re working on). 

Parting advice from Webb: “Have a strong team and partners. I’m not a restaurateur but my partner is. That’s been so helpful.”

Opening the Locks at the Willamette Falls? Maybe.

The Willamette Falls project is one of the biggest undertakings the Portland metro area has seen. It's had some bumps and stops along the way (that's an understatement) since the paper mill closed in 2011 but for the most part, it's back on track.

First up will be a new riverwalk, with plans designed by Snøhetta. Then it's anyone's guess what will happen next, from mixed use something-something, condos, shopping. It's going to change the McLoughlin corridor, from Milwaukie to Oregon City. If you've ever driven on McLoughlin and seen the car lots, strip joints, this is a good thing. 

And, just last week it was announced there's yet another new plan: Possibly reopening the decommissioned Willamette Falls Locks. The Willamette Falls Locks Commission (appointed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown) is working to advise state, local and regional stakeholders on the "development and implementation of policies relating to the repair, reopening, operation and maintenance of the Willamette Falls navigation canal and Locks."

The Locks are currently owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who shuttered the Locks in 2011. But, according to a Local Economic Potential Study conducted by ECONorthwest, Oregon could see tremendous economic benefits from recommissioning the Locks. The study found that over the next 30 years: 

  • Transportation benefits of $12-$49 million
  • Recreation benefits of $12-$50 million
  • 80,000-220,000 truck trips removed from Portland area roads
  Source.   Stern-wheel steamboat Grahamona in the Willamette Falls locks, sometime between 1912 and 1918.

Source.  Stern-wheel steamboat Grahamona in the Willamette Falls locks, sometime between 1912 and 1918.

Reopening the Locks and returning navigational access around Willamette Falls holds tremendous historical and cultural value to Oregonians, and to the state’s Native American tribes.

Plus? It'd be cool to travel past the Falls and beyond in the Willamette in a boat or on a kayak, right? Crossing our fingers on this one and we'll be writing much more on this amazing project.

 

So long, Lotus Cafe; New brewery & drinking map in Central Eastside; Overland Warehouse retrofit

The Lotus is no more
Avert your eyes if you don't want to see the destruction of The Lotus. The Oregonian reported that it originally opened in 1906 (!!) at the corner of Southwest Third Avenue and Salmon Street as the Hotel Albion. The building was known for the Lotus Café and Cardroom from 1924. It continued as a hopping nightspot until its closure in 2016. YouTuber Steve the Historian hustled down there and shot some video: 

Mt. Hood Brewing opens its Central Eastside location this weekend
Snuggled at the foot of the Tilikum Bridge at a former TriMet transfer station (now called Bruun Dock Studios) we think the location will work for them. Even if they only got commuters hopping off the Orange Line for a quick pint and a pizza they'll rock it. Another win for Central Eastside. 

Speaking of the Central Eastside (and booze)
The folks at Conveyor have put together a micro-site of the history of the Central Eastside as well as a map of places to grab a drink. You can walk, hike, even bike it. (If you drive it, you won't find parking. And if you're drinking you shouldn't be driving. Wags finger.) If you're old school like me, look for hard copies of the map at selected establishments.

Adaptive reuse of the week: Overland Warehouse
Originally built as a warehouse in 1889, Overland Warehouse has served as temporary housing for immigrant families, a neighborhood market, and a nightclub over the years.

In 2016, UD+P completed a full renovation that preserved and restored its historic structural elements while adding modern features that are needed for today’s creative office tenants. Unique among older brick buildings in downtown Portland, Overland features a stunning atrium built into the third floor that brings light down to the center of the building.

As part of the renovation, the building underwent a complete seismic retrofit.

And, just last month Restore Oregon presented the Overland Warehouse design and development team with a 2018 DeMuro Award.

 

 

 

12 Portland skyscrapers that changed Portland; Small-scale manufacturing in Central Eastside; Booming South Downtown Milwaukie

The word skyscraper might be a stretch, regardless, this piece goes deep (or is that high?) on 12 Portland skyscrapers that changed the city for good (and bad).  I don't normally recommend reading the comments from OregonLive but there's a lively discussion on buildings missed (of course there's the old-timer lamenting how much downtown has changed since—fill in blank of the decade when they peaked/moved here). Great pics throughout, too. I love it when the Oregonian dives into its pic morgue. And for the record, where's the Weatherly

Portland Small-Scale Manufacturing
White papers don't exactly instill a sense of excitement but this one is pretty fascinating. It's called The State of Urban Manufacturing Portland City Snapshot. Stay with me. 

In a nutshell, the white paper helps to try and understand what the small-batch manufacturing sector looks like, who its "entrepreneurs and employees are, and what cities can do to help these firms thrive and grow into larger jobs generators, and retain them within the urban core." 

One of the cities that the The Urban Manufacturing Alliance profiled is Portland. And one of the key takeaways I got (and, sure, I'm cherry-picking) is that manufacturing job growth between 2010 and 2016 was most evident in the Central Eastside district, where it increased by 30 percent. I'm intrigued by small-scale manufacturing and how individuals and companies are making stuff, not outside of cities, but right in the middle in places like the Central Eastside

The downside? 

Affordable space represents the most urgent challenge facing manufacturers in Portland today, especially smaller, fast-growing companies that prefer to accommodate their expansions within city limits.

Milwaukie has a lot going in South Downtown
And, they've got a new website to prove it. South Downtown wasn't even a thing like 5 years ago. And now? Here's some of what's going to be completed (whoa?) by 2019-2020. 

  • Axletree apartments, a new five-story, mixed-use development.
  • Kronberg Park Multi-Use Walkway
  • Coho Point at Kellogg Creek, an opportunity site for a 5-story mixed-use building.
  • A new high school 
  • A new space for the Milwaukie Farmer's Market

That's just some of the projects.

 The future site of Coho Landing in South Downtown Milwaukie. The current building will be demolished.  Source. 

The future site of Coho Landing in South Downtown Milwaukie. The current building will be demolished. Source. 

Small-scale on Division
Took a stroll down Division in today (as I do every couple of years) and was— as usual—blown away by the changes. I like that these kind of workhouse buildings (see pic) are still around. Two-story, retail on bottom, housing on top. Could this even get built anymore? Does code even allow that? 

 Small-scale still exists along Division (surrounded by new construction). 

Small-scale still exists along Division (surrounded by new construction). 

Guild Theatre gets new life; mid-century in Milwaukie; new pedestrian bridge in Forest Park

We've got to admit it was touch and go with the Guild. It was in disrepair for years, then vacant. (Buildings that are vacant for long periods of time always us nervous.) It was originally built in 1927 as the Taylor Street Theatre until 1948 when it was renamed, renovated in 1956, then closed in 2006. But wait! It was renovated in 2016. Original plans called for it to be used as a theater, but that came to pass. Until this year, it sat vacant. And now, Willamette Week reports that it will get a new resident—Japan's Kinokuniya Books. Chalk that up as a win. 

Milwaukie Cleaners closing
Dry cleaners closing their doors isn't exactly breaking news. However, this one piques our interest. One, it's a cool structure. Two, it's a hidden mid-century gem. Three, it would make a great spot for something other than a dry cleaner? Restaurant? Beer-something? Coffee shop? Market? The Architecture Heritage Center did a walking tour of downtown Milwaukie last year that (we think) that featured it. (They're doing another one in the fall.) 

Beers Made by Walking and a new pedestrian bridge in Forest Park
If you've never done the Beers Made by Walking hike, do it. Last weekend, we had the chance to wander around with Forest Park folks and brewers from Hopworks and Reverend Nat's Hard Cider. The two-hour walk provided a chance to see a new Metro trail under construction, a 500-year-old cedar, and a forest —mere miles from downtown Portland. 

Closer to town on Burnside in Forest Park it was recently announced the Burnside Wildwood Trail crossing has enough funds to be built. After support from myriad of sources, including Portland Parks & Recreation, Metro, major family and public foundations, private donations, and crowdsourcing, construction is predicted to start in late summer. 

 Based on a stunning design inspired by the concept of a “bridge floating in the woods” by Ed Carpenter, an artist from Portland.  Source. 

Based on a stunning design inspired by the concept of a “bridge floating in the woods” by Ed Carpenter, an artist from Portland. Source. 

Brick buildings: cute, but deadly; Milwaukie growth spurt; demolition porn; welcome to South Portland

Historical brick buildings, also known as unreinforced masonry buildings or URMs, "make up nine percent of the buildings in Portland. Though charming, they’re the most dangerous places to be in or near during an earthquake" (which can happen tomorrow or 100 years from now). So, what's Portland going to do? Tear them all down? Make owners pay a bajillion dollars to reinforce? Replace them with boring, vanilla condos? Glad I'm not the one making decisions around here. 

 Interesting, leaky roof. Presuming this one's coming down when sold.  Source. 

Interesting, leaky roof. Presuming this one's coming down when sold. Source. 

Downtown Milwaukie (or DTM—too soon?) is on the cusp of a huge building boom. There's new construction ready to start for the Axletree (110 units) and the rumor of a brewery on the bottom floor. Next door Coho Point at Kellogg Creek, a five-story mixed-use project is in the works.  And if you cross McLoughlin, there's an interesting piece of property for sale in one of the few commercially zoned properties within the area. My guess is a tear-down. The roof leaks, it looks like it's going to collapse, it's a unique style. Watching this one for sure. 

 The Axletree in downtown Milwaukie.  Source. 

The Axletree in downtown Milwaukie. Source. 

Portland DJC posted a photo essay of demolition porn last week. The old Portland Music Co. building is a goner. Its replacement will be a "six-story, cross-laminated-timber building." (Portland Music Co. moved down to Oak Grove on McLoughlin, by the way.)

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Portland is moving closer to changing mailing addresses for nearly 10,000 businesses and homes in what would be the most significant change to the city's address book since the Great Depression.  For some of you in Southwest, you will now be in South Portland.

Renovating on SE Grand, property for sale in Oak Grove, Willamette Falls back on track

Michael Andersen looks at Portland's infamous 1924 rezoning legacy that launched a "century of exclusion." 

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Great news! After a brief hiccup, the Willamette Falls riverwalk project is back on track. (Sorry—PBJ subscribers only.) 

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 For sale across from the Park Avenue Max stop—four parcels for a total of 27,014 SF lot. The site also includes a 4,752 SF industrial-flex building. The property is "ideal for owner use or a redevelopment opportunity."  Source. 

For sale across from the Park Avenue Max stop—four parcels for a total of 27,014 SF lot. The site also includes a 4,752 SF industrial-flex building. The property is "ideal for owner use or a redevelopment opportunity." Source. 

Down in Oak Grove at the last Max stop, a key piece of property has been listed for sale. The whole corner is ripe for development. On one side you have the station, across from that is Max parking, then a 7-Eleven. With a local organization (Oak Grove is unincorporated) working with the county to re-imagine the intersection (e.g., introducing code so more sprawl doesn't get thrown up on McLoughlin) this might be a viable intersection someday. 

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Lorentz Bruun Construction announced on its Instagram page that they're in the process of renovating an old furniture store on Grand (716 SE Grand). Built in 1904, the brick-cladded building had a modern facade plopped on in 1979. The building is next to Dig a Pony and Kachka. Bruun recently adapted the Iron Fireman warehouse building (1721-1799 SE Schiller St.) in SE Portland (coming soon: Ruse Brewing) and are working on the new Central Eastside Mt. Hood Brewery location at OMSI. 

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 There's brick behind that 1970s facade.  Source.  

There's brick behind that 1970s facade. Source. 

Speaking of beer (when are we not), down in Oregon City, First City Ale House (great name) has applied to the OLCC for a taproom on Main Street. Oregon City is booming.