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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

McCall Restaurant bike palace plan craters

Why don't they just knock the building down and let the weeds take it over? I'm sure the Portland Development Commission could get that done for the Parks Bureau in a jiffy.

Comments (13)

Why don't they use the space as a drop-in center for the homeless on the riverfront?

Pick a couple of our most popular food carts and let them operate there while the economy is in the tank.

The reality is that the location is NOT a destination location -- it's a way station.

That way, bikers and walkers (and the homeless) can hydrate, protein- and carbo-load and the city has a location that doesn't look like a storage locker.

I vote for the whole bowl people as one vendor and the king and queen of weenies as the other.

Has anyone seen the Wienie King & Queen? I haven't seen them since last December. I hope their wasn't a palace putsch in the Wienie Kingdom.

A successful restaurant operator here in Portland negotiated with the city for months to get a good business going in that location. He finally had to walk away because the city was trying to micro-manage the entire operation, right down to the menu options. Sheesh.

Garage Wine: I think we're thinking of the same operation. They had a cart at 4th and Morrison?

Good points Dave Lister! The same idiots that almost ran Peterson's out of the City Parking Garage are the same ones that have attempted to micro-manage the McCall's location.

How about putting a park there? There is already plenty of retail space just across the street.

There's already a park there.

I do think some sort of refreshment stand would be a good thing, although I like the food cart idea which can be tailored to the seasons (sno-cones and salads in the summer; tea, coffee, cocoa, soup and pasta in the winter)

I have worked on three different plans over the last 14 years to reopen McCalls. The last plan, about four years ago involved an expensive design competition by three top restaurant designers, a proposed $1.2 million dollar investment by me, and lots of legal work. In the end the City proved again it is a terrible partner as it agreed in principle to the deal but placed restrictions on the menu pricing, service standards, suppliers had to be all minority owned, and menu offerings (free range vegetables and such). I told them they should run the place themselves and we walked. It is a shame as it would be a great place for people waiting for a cruise to go for a pre-cruise drink and could be proud landmark for the city instead of symbol of its relationship with the business community.

"There's already a park there."

Thanks. I'll add "closed and locked building" and "building that is some sort of retail establishment" to my definition of park.

But seriously, last time I checked, there was like a whole city right nearby this place. There are food carts and restaurants right across the street.

I'm sorry, JerryB, I didn't mean to sound condescending and if I did, I'm sorry. Yeah, there are restaurants across the street, but a lot of tourists use the Esplanade/Tom McCall Park and aren't aware of it. So the old McCall's is a perfect place for what used to be called "a refreshment stand with clean restrooms."

Just my 2 cents. I do think a "destination restaurant" is not a good fit there. For a "destination" restaurant, I expect good/free parking.

What the article and this discussion thread omit is that this building has definite eligibility for National Landmark Status. As the old Oregon Visitor's Center, it was a centerpiece of the original McCall Waterfront Park. The building was designed by eccentric architect and conservationist, John Yeon, and is one of his few pieces of civic architecture (though the building does not reflect its original glory). Yeon's beneficiaries have since set up multi million dollar endowments for the University of Oregon College of Architecture and Allied Arts in his name. Yeon himself was the driving force behind the preservation and establishment of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area and the Olympic National Park in Washington State. The building itself was once featured at the NY Museum of Modern Art. Two of Yeon's houses are listed on the National Register, with a third in progress. Yeon was a major influence on Pietro Belluschi, who's work includes the US Bancorp Tower in Portland and former PanAm Building (which stradles Central Station) in New York City.

In a political climate where the City can throw millions of dollars at projects like a bike bridge in the Pearl or the Arial Tram, I find it reprehensible that a few thousand can't be dedicated to restore and preserve a true piece of art from an unrecognized but infinitely influential artist like Yeon, who gave so much of his personal wealth to preserve Oregon's natural and artistic heritage.

Here Here ! let's fully restore the historic building , and make it a design museum. You can get food all over town , we don't need more food places. This is
a public park and it needs a public purpose. How about if all those well-to-do Nike Alum get behind a design museum featuring
exhibits celebrating Oregon
Designers like Tinker Hatfield
and Brad Cloepfil.

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