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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 12, 2007 1:50 PM. The previous post in this blog was We're losing the wider war, too. The next post in this blog is Count your blessings. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

What to do with McCall's?

The Portland Parks Bureau is shining a spotlight on the old McCall's Restaurant in Waterfront Park downtown, and asking, "What should be done with this building?" As usual, they're not showing their cards -- not by a longshot -- but they've obviously got something in mind. Somehow design students from the U of O are involved.

One idea that was floated a while back is to make it a sort of changing station for bikers and athletes who use the park. That actually sounds like a decent idea if it can be done without a giveaway to some huge corporation or unctuous developer. As this is in a Portland park, however, that remains to be seen. I keep expecting Randy Gragg to show up any minute.

Comments (20)

The Graggmaster did in one of his columns lament the vacant status of this building because it was actually designed by well known "Modernist" architect John Yeon. After reading that I walked down on my lunch hour to take a look at it and it looks like a shoe box to me, but hey what do I know.

When originally constructed, that place was architecturally interesting. Most of that is gone now. If they're not going to restore the elements that made it special, they might as well knock it down and reclaim it as green space.

It would be nice if they set it up to include bicycle rentals.

I'll keep saying this till I'm blue in the face... Portland needs to upgrade the park to accommodate all the festivals. Why, as Beer City USA (World?), do we have a giant brewfest that crams people in crappy porto tents that block views of Mt. Hood, complete with flimsy folding chairs, 4 inches of dust, and diesel-burning semi-trailers? It was fun when I was 21, but why can't we install some kind of modular system and create more of a German beer garden?

I picture a predominantly grass filled park, with paved islands/blocks, surrounded by ironwork, rose gardens or hedgerows. Why not have a system that enables these to be fitted with store-able pavilion roofs for some events. What about banks of communal picnic tables instead of the plastic folding chairs what always give way? Why not build a permanent stage on the North end? Why not use McCalls as the food service hub for the entire park during these big festivals?

I just think this could be one of those few, wise expenditures for the city that show tangible results for the whole area.

A bike rental is a terrific idea.

What about banks of communal picnic tables instead of the plastic folding chairs what always give way? Why not build a permanent stage on the North end?

Because it's beautiful open space most of the time.

Better temporary stuff, yes. Permanent clutter, no.

I think it should be American-Mexican-Irish-German restaurant called Uncle Pedro McSchmidts. We could tear up the grass and celebrate Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick's Day, and Oktoberfest with copious amounts of booze and mayhem.

In true Portland fashion, we'd have pole dancing on the patio between celebrations.

How about a 400 foot condo tower, why not. All occupants who purchase the property tax free units at 1 million each would be given bikes. A bike changing station and public bathroom could be included. Homer is ready to build it, with taxpayer subsidy. We could route a streetcar up it and turn Naito into a couplet.

How long has that property sat shuttered?
What a joke. It should have been made into something long ago.
They should have simply taken bids on leasing with proposals for type of uses.

Bike rental? Geeze, where's the creative class?

A tastefully done food court would be better. With a wide variety, plenty of seating, shade, rain cover, and agressive cleaning to keep it that way.

Tom would have loved the irony if it turned into a hard liquor only bar.

...create more of a German beer garden...

Sheesh, between those that want to tar and feather a guy for smoking a little herb and those that want to transform our parks into permanent facilities for beer parties, I'm starting to wonder how I fit in with my fellow Oregonians.

All you booze hounds have plenty of beer gardens to choose from anyhow, why do you need a another one on public property at city expense?

Actually, I've often thought it's absurd to trash and reseed that park so many times at great expense. Maybe a festival ground in SoWhat would be a nice alternative.

I do like the permanent stage idea. I'm thinking Grant Park in Chicago.

As a student in the University of Oregon studio that is studying this project, I would like to offer my two cents as follows:

It is sad to see so many people neglecting the opportunity to restore a truly beautiful building! Sure there are many ideas being tossed around about using the facilities for the seasonal (aka summer) events that take place at the park, but then you have a building that sits virtually empty during the 9 months out of the year when the park is hardly used. We need to be thinking of how to reinstate some dignity into our parks. By turning it into a year-round boozefest, we'd be destroying one of the greatest modernist building we have in Oregon. John Yeon was an amazing architect who wouldn't want to see this building turn to another restaurant or anything else that strays from it purpose and original beauty. No longer shall it be be called 'that ugly blue building by the water'! Let's turn it back into a visitors center and help it be a central hub for the greater Portland area. We have pulled countless hours studying the history of this building, its context, and its architect to try and figure out a great solution.

I suggest that anyone that is reading this or commenting, join us students for term presentation on the 15th of August. It will be held in the evening at the Yeon building. I hope that with our help, there will be a continuing dialogue about helping Portland Parks and Rec decide what this building should truly become.

I wasn't advocating for a year-round beer garden. I was advocating for installing something that would make the space more flexible and inviting for events. I wish I was an architect so I could show you what I mean.

Between the Rose Festival, Cinco de Mayo, Brewfest, The Bite, Blues Festival, Pride, Race for the Cure and the rest, Waterfront Park probably attracts 1 or 2 million people a year. Isn't it worth rethinking our investment in it? Go to the Brewfest and tell me it was worth the cost after wallowing in the dustbowl. It's not fun anymore.

There is a bicycle rental shop at RiverPlace, a few short blocks to the South.

Howzabout making it a 24hr Potter's Potty restroom....take a wee bit of pressure off City Hall? Or am I just pissing in the wind, thinking such a thing?

Maybe it could be part of a park, as in open space, as a break from all the pavement and shops that are already all around it.

"I'm starting to wonder how I fit in with my fellow Oregonians."
They aren't native Oregonians, and we don't fit in any more. We had a great city, but other people liked it too, so they came and made it into something else.

Now that the powers that be have closed down parts of that park in Salem because of lewd behavior, I think using MCalls as a "changing station for bikers and athletes who use the park " would be a great idea.

Perhaps Steam up on Sandy could buy the naming rights and George Michael might be prevailed upon to cut a (pink?) ribbon at the (re)opening ceremony

Some friends of mine in the restaurant business had a plan to revitalize McCall's and make it really nice. They negotiated with the city ad nauseum, but the bureaucrats blocked their every effort to come to a reasonable deal.

It started life as the Visitors Information Center. Before the Marquam Bridge and the Minnesota Freeway were built, it was one of the first downtown buildings that a visitor from the south would encounter. I'd like to see it restored to John Yeon's original design (documented in the book "A Century of Portland Architecture") and perhaps used as a neighborhood police station, complete with public restrooms to relieve the pressure on City Hall.


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