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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Curse of the Virginia Cafe

The latest ugly tower project in Moyertown is quite the bust. This is the monstrosity that they chased the Virginia Cafe out of its historic location for. Now the condo floors of the proposed Fake New York edifice have literally been lopped off the drawings, and the construction work is being stopped for at least nine months.

The news came as a shock to Hoffman Construction, the Portland contractor building the project. Bart Eberwein, a vice president with Hoffman, said that in 21 years in the construction business he couldn’t think of another project that stalled like this. He called it a sad commentary on the state of the financial markets....

Hoffman is scrambling to close down the project and find alternative work for the 350 employees working on it.

Don't worry, fellas. I'm sure Mayor Creepy and Fireman Pele will come up with something for you right away.

In the meantime, though, it appears that the construction site is going to be idle all summer long -- nothing but a big hole in the ground. Why not put it to a higher and better use?

Come on, Portland! It's for the children!

Comments (18)

It would be a very expensive pool liner, but it could be done.

Did Moyer pull the plug, or was it the bank?

Wasn't Stoel Rives going to be moving to the top office floors of this building? I guess this means they'll have the top floors of the entire building now, assuming there's a building to move into...

"[Shorenstein Property Services LP]'s 16-story First and Main tower near the Hawthorne Bridge is on track to open in early 2010 but it has no signed tenants."

Bizarre that construction on a project that is 55-60% leased is being halted while construction continues on a building that has no tenants.

I guess I'll never understand high finance. What a shame the financiers don't seem to either.

Shorenstein is financing its project with equity from outside investors, instead of debt (rumor on the street is that Yale's endowment fund has a big position in the Shorenstein building), so Shorenstein can't pull the plug on its tower without risking claims from its partners.

The Virginia Cafe was shut down because of this place? I thought the site used to be a parking lot? Too many changes and stories to follow downtown. Nikes going to have to find another place for their new store.

The new VC location lacks the cave-like charm of the old location.


The old Virginia Cafe stood opposite (due West of) Nordstroms while the parking lot that you're think of stood opposite (due West of) the Fox Tower.

They tore up the parking lot to install underground parking, with the proviso that a "grassy park" would be placed on the surface. They opened the underground parking lot 18 months ago, but the surface is still covered in gravel and pipes.

Welcome to Moyertown.

This dovetails nicely with the discussion about Memorial Coliseum. Places like the Virginia Cafe are the soul of the real Portland. Our civic leaders have sat in so many planning meetings that their heads have turned to mush, so they go about destroying good things to make way for flashy, bigger, brighter soulless crap. The only way they could be stopped is when their inherently flawed world view finally collapsed under its own weight.
That's happening now. Course corrections will be made. Huge chunks of the vision will be lopped off. More meetings will be scheduled to discuss what went wrong at the other meetings.

And the legendary Virginia Cafe is gone forever.

That's right, I was thinking this building was on the parking lot site. I do miss the old VC though.

Oh no......where will we put all those creative classy folks that Metro warned us are on the way ? Load them on a barge and send them down the Willamette. Does Hoffman ever work on any reasonable projects ? Here in Eugene they are involved in the shadiest(no bid contract) and most financially dicey project this town has ever had thrust upon it-the 300 million dollar Nike arena boondoggle. It was in the 250 range until UO admitted their power plant does not have the capacity to light or heat the damn thing.

The new VC location lacks the cave-like charm of the old location.

Yes, that's true. It was easy to disappear in there if you wanted to.

I was visiting Maui a couple of years ago when I talked to a bartender who worked at the Virginia Cafe many years ago. News had just come out that the VC was going to be sacrificed for a soulless office tower and he was disappointed to hear about it.

I went in the old place with some friends one last time the last couple of days it was still open just for old time sake.

Coincidentally, I drove past the construction site on Morrison today and saw the hole in the ground. There is an 8 foot billboard of the artist's conception that will need to be replaced at some point. But there's plenty of time for that and a few much-needed jobs in it for some graphic artists.

Bart Eberwein, a vice president with Hoffman, said that in 21 years in the construction business he couldn’t think of another project that stalled like this.

That's another instance of an inherently flawed world view collapsing under it's own weight that Bill McDonald mentioned above. Mr. Eberwein, having been around since 1988, would have no reason to have seen a project fail like this so late in the process. But now that the collapse is under way, there will be plenty of other examples in the coming months.

Bart Eberwein, a vice president with Hoffman, said that in 21 years in the construction business he couldn’t think of another project that stalled like this.

Umm...how about The Round in Beaverton?

I'm not buying the financing argument. It's cover for the real reason...they stopped construction since they wanted to redesign the building to cut off the top 10 stories that were to hold $1 million plus condos. Why continue construction when you need to redesign the building. It's not as simple as stopping the building 10 floors early. You need to go through design review, etc...

Move a few girders, roll out the FieldTurf and presto – a new soccer-only stadium! Spectators can stand behind the chain-link fence and sing their silly songs, just like the Euros.

The waxing nostalgic over the old VC site brings to mind a classic "Simpsons" episode where Moe creates Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag:

Moe: Oh, everybody is going to family restaurants these days, tsk. Seems nobody wants to hang out in a dank pit no more.
Carl: You ain’t thinking of getting rid of the dank, are you, Moe?
Moe: Ehh, maybe I am.
Carl: Oh, but Moe: the dank. The dank!

Lots of Carl Carlsons here.

I enjoy the new VC just fine. As Krusty would say about the McClogger, if you can find a greasier sandwich, you're in Mexico!

Probably just a ruse to get the union to renegotiate.

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