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Doug Kelso
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My own whimsical idea is to gut the interior and turn the building into a Museum of Contemporary Art and a downtown arts/community center. Best use I can think of for a post-modern monument with tiny windows that apparently fails in its intended use as an office building. But I expect there's no funding for that. Besides, the City probably needs office space close to City Hall.
I'm entirely in favor of rebuilding authentic-looking replicas of significant old buildings at their prior locations -- at least if there's nothing there already but a parking lot. I don't see it as fakery; I see it as correcting a grievous mistake. I think Old Town would benefit greatly reconstructing some of the lost buildings (and personally, I'm fine with cast iron facades on steel frames if that makes the project pencil out) as long as they are clearly marked with the date of reconstruction and include a plaque explaining the history of the original building. The rest of Old Town should be developed with fairly neutral buildings designed to a style of the period (say, 1890-1930), blending in without standing out -- serving as a backdrop for the preserved buildings and significant replicas.
Thank you, Brian, for your tireless advocacy on this matter. As for leaving managerial authority with the Blazers for the near term, that's fine. As long as the Coliseum is protected and restored, there will be future opportunities to use it to its full potential. One obvious option is to get a WNBA team back into Portland. At 8,000 seats, the Coliseum is the perfect size for a typical WNBA crowd (averaging about 7700 to 7800 per game across the entire league).
I've always enjoyed the mural wall and the turtle pond. I remember when I went there as a child, there were often actual living turtles in it. Up until today, though, it didn't even occur to me that the zoo's new education center would wipe out both the mural and the fountain/pool. That's really unfortunate; it was one of the very few things left from the "new" zoo in 1959 (and frankly, one of the only things worth keeping). It seems to me there should be a way to build around it.
Fred: In between the first MAX line and the current resistance in Clackamas County, Tri-Met area voters approved Westside MAX by an 80-20 margin and South/North MAX by 60-40. A regional majority voted "yes" on the statewide transportation package that would have included light rail funding for S/N (it was defeated outside the Metro area) and a regional vote on a shorter version of the project failed by a narrow 52-48 margin while sharing the ballot with multiple competing bond measures. I'm pretty sure that with that track record, a good MAX project could win at the polls, and direct political control of Tri-Met wouldn't kill light rail.
The only problem is that TriMet is largely out of Portland's hands - it is accountable to the governor rather than any city leaders. And that may be the other massive sea change necessary in the coming years: a greater ability for Portland's metro area to determine its own fate on transit. By statute, Metro can take over Tri-Met any time they want to. Thus far, Metro hasn't wanted to -- perhaps because they would inherit all of the headaches Tri-Met is having right now. If they did so, however, the region's voters would have a lot more input into Tri-Met governance through elected Metro counsellors.
According to the DJC story, the planned hotel on the Cosmopolitan site would be 312 rooms. There are already 173 rooms at the Red Lion Convention Center site across the street. Between them, that's 485 rooms right next to the Convention Center. It seems to me that Metro could try to broker a deal for one hotel to run both buildings. Maybe even connect them with a skybridge or a passage beneath the street to more easily combine their facilities (banquet halls, restaurant, swimming pool, gym). A bit of remodeling could add 15 or more rooms to meet the 500 room target.
A few years ago, the Children's Museum was looking at getting a carousel. A few years before that, the World Forestry Center was talking about putting one in (I presume the wooden horses would fit its forestry & wood products theme). Neither idea happened, but that doesn't mean it couldn't. The latest Oregon Zoo master plan contemplates adding a carousel to the zoo. That's an active plan. If the Jantzen Beach carousel is up for grabs, any ONE of those Washington Park cultural institutions might make a good home for it. That would keep it in Portland and open to the public.
Why not double the size of Director Park? The city could condemn the giant blight-y hole in the ground, fill it with underground paid parking, put an extension of Director Park on top, and pay for the whole thing with parking revenue over the next few decades.
415 SW 11th. And I agree: I hope this leads to permanent exhibition space. I greatly appreciated their visual arts program back in the day.
That may be true, but I'm skeptical. It would certainly cost money to reconstruct an elaborate brick facade on the face of a building; a lot more than just slapping on prefabricated panels. But how would that balance against the savings of NOT having to provide a lot of underground parking? And I said nothing about a "Disneyland like simulation." I'm talking about historic design on building facades to match the neighborhood around it. Neighborhood restoration to an approximation of what was actually there, not a theme park. If I start suggesting people wearing period costumes, 19th century gift shops, nickelodeon theaters and horse-drawn carriage rides, feel free to call me on it.
Personally, I have no objections to putting a replica of an old building in Old Town as long as it is an accurate replica (at least on the outside). Don't tell me we can't create brickwork like the Pythian Building today. Don't tell me we can't pour a classic cast iron facade for the front of a building, even if it's attached to a steel skeleton. Personally, I'd like to see the City draw a line around the Old Town Historic District and allow new buildings within that reproduce -- as exactly as possible -- the exterior of any notable building that was built in the Pacific Northwest prior to 1930. (At this point, that's a minimum of 81 years ago). Set height limits that let the buildings get as tall as their historic pre-1930 counterparts. The trade-off for the developers would be the waiver of ALL off-street parking requirements -- a rule that's also historically justified, since very few people owned cars or even carriages in that era. The area is well-served by public transit and there's a lot of street parking, plus surface parking in the vacant lots in the district, and plenty of structured parking just a few blocks away. No need to make room for more cars. Certainly, reproducing an old building isn't any challenge for an architect. It's more an engineering question -- take an old blueprint from a spectacular now-demolished 1922 Seattle building (for example) and modify the interior for modern materials, seismic standards, and energy efficiency. But as noted, "the district is the resource." Keep the sense of a historic district all around, and the buildings will rapidly increase in value. It would be a good pay-off for property owners over the long run. It would also make for a good tourist draw, something like a Portland version of the old towns in the hearts of many great cities in Europe. (Which, in some cases, are reconstructions of older buildings that had been destroyed in the Second World War.) That would help support a lively pedestrian district with a lot of retail and restaurant space on the ground floors.
I'm very skeptical about the current proposal for the Lake Oswego Streetcar simply because it's too expensive and too slow. A streetcar could provide MAX-like service between downtown and Lake Oswego, but it would (probably) need to share MAX tracks from South Waterfront to downtown (which would require adaptations to either the vehicles or the MAX platforms -- Streetcars are narrower than MAX vehicles, and the gap would be wide enough to be unsafe) and run with only a few stations from South Waterfront to Lake Oswego. As Brian points out, the streetcar is well-used as a development tool -- basically it's a pedestrian enhancement to get around the core two or three times as fast as walking. It could instead be used for commuter transit like MAX. But it can't (realistically) do both. The planned Lake Oswego line is designed like a development tool, which makes for very poor commuter transit. Developing it as an effective transit line would mean (most likely) making it a Tri-Met project and using a different vehicle than the current Portland Streetcar -- one that can share MAX tracks and platforms downtown, and still use Portland Streetcar tracks and platforms in South Waterfront. Adding injury to insult, the Lake Oswego streetcar proposal would eliminate bus service on Macadam to pay for operations -- creating a longer, slower ride for commuters in that corridor. As planned, it's a very expensive lose-lose for almost everyone except a few developers in Johns Landing and Lake Oswego.
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Aug 24, 2011