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Friday, February 4, 2011

Wrecking balls on the couplet

As "vintage" buildings come down, architects kvetch.

Comments (20)

My god, have we reached the point where anyone with an idea can come along and tell you what you can/can't do with property that you own?

All this hand wringing over the Galaxy building. Did any of the whiners ever actually go there and eat, to support the owner and the many/kinda/sorta significant architecture?


The Galaxy building has been neglected for decades and probably has a lot of interior damage, rot and mold.

Any new structure on that site should be applauded.

"The first proposal is for a 5-story 66,000 square foot mixed-use building at the northwest corner of NE 6th and Couch."

How stupid can this get? Propose more of what fails and needs new tax help.


I can't believe people really want to live stacked one upon another. I know this high rise condo buildout is going end like "green" appliances of the 1950s. But this fad won't be as cheaply corrected.

Good site for a Cabela's. Just think of all the jobs.

Good site for a Cabela's. Just think of all the jobs

Naah, it'd put at least four other businesses in the area out of business and replace them with big-business corporate types.

Unless, of course, Sam Adams prefers Cabela's to Next Adventure. Then screw the local business. It's all about Sam.

Wait, I meant Costco. Adams likes Costco. A boutique-y Costco, though, with bicycle access only. You could hire the "B-Line" guys to deliver your stuff after they're done at Office Depot.

The couplet was always about development. Those apartments are in terrible shape and would be hard to restore I'm guessing.

Replacing the galaxy with another one-story restaurant structure doesn't seem to be taking great advantage of that real estate, but I guess the owner knows what he's doing.

Traffic on the couplet has grown terrible by the way. In the morning coming down Sandy towards downtown, traffic can back up to 20th or 21st sometimes. From there down to the Burnside Bridge, that's 17 blocks of slow-rolling bumper-to-bumper.

Coming out of downtown in the evening, I'd say it's pretty similar to how it was before (i.e. still backed up to the middle of the bridge.)

This is Portland. Whatever the real estate mafia wants, the real estate mafia gets.

Too bad Portlanders didn't bother to preserve common sense. They allowed it to be demolished long ago. Oregon ought to redesignate the Metro urban growth boundary as a mental health quarantine cordon and wait 'em out.

Smart growth? Mixed use, green streets, LID, tax abatement, and the list goes on.

How about a smart idea? - moratorium and then evaluation.

Evaluate what we do have, how many empty housing units, mixed use buildings do we have right now?

While we are at it, evaluate basic budget needs such as fixing potholes before we carry on creating new projects such as green streets? How many dollars are going into this green streets program?

Since most of Portland consists of neighborhoods of older structures which are not very green without prohibitive upgrades, extending this logic leads one to conclude that most of Portland is therefore doomed to demolition in order to make way for greener, designer "living experience" communities.

What a beautiful setup.

Mr. Grumpy,
Can see the handwriting on the wall. Guess every possible inch will have to be redone. . . only a matter of time. . but wait, we may be saved . . other communities ahead of us have downzoning in order to preserve their neighborhoods. The character and stability of neighborhoods are of value.


"People generally plant themselves in neighborhoods for a reason," said Tony Avella, a city councilman from northeast Queens who made overdevelopment a campaign issue when he ran for office in 2001. "It's usually the quality of life. If we allow the quality of life and the neighborhood character to disappear because of overdevelopment, then you lose something that the city will never get back."

Oh, noes! The first Denny's ever built in Portland might be torn down! And where were you architectural heralds when the equally historically valuable downtown Burnside Burger King went down?

Sorry, guys, I have a little bit of sympathy. A little. Bringing up the unnecessary demolition of historically important buildings is understandable, but when you're fussing about saving an old Denny's that hadn't even been a Denny's for decades? (Worse, if that level of passive-aggressive "support" of dubious local landmarks is the standard, it's no surprise that developers want to tear it all down. They get bitched out for a few months for demolishing the whole thing, or they get bitched out for years for not following the advice of people who have ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY WHATSOEVER involved in the decisions.)

The stuff about saving the Galaxy "because it was Portland's first Denny's" is about as ridiculous as it gets. As long as the guy isn't asking for any tax payer money I say let him do what he wants with his property...keeping in mind that the city will require him to jump through 50 million hoops before it's all done anyhow.

I'm not so sure. How many communities have the following all working against them at the same time...?

-A tax-funded real estate development arm of city gov't that appears to lack accountability (PDC).
-Successful advertising that creates demand for housing through rampant immigration.
-An agency that artificially limits the supply of housing but not the price, directly contributing to over-valued housing prices (LCDC). People wind up being led down the garden path to financial ruin, increasing real estate turnover.
-An archaic, 19th century commission system of city gov't that lacks accountability.
-An addiction to secretive 'public-private partnership' arrangements.
-A naively trusting public that will swallow anything labelled 'green' without even asking what they were just given to eat.

I'm sure we can all think of more.

I used the think poor climate would save us, but apparently not. Our only hope is probably for the parasites to suck all the blood they can, then abandon the host.

When I see stuf like this going on, I'm thrilled we moved to Nevada where I'm no longer taxed for civic stupidity like this. It's worth noting, that in downtown Reno there are several newer mixd use buildings that always seem to have two or more vacant commercial spaces - with no chance of anymore being built anytime soon.
Interestingly, the Reno area has one or two new businesses opening every week or ten days - often fleeing California. And best of all, the City is pretty much broke and not hiring any new bodies or attempting to try any new programs. They do however, have roads that are light years better than Portland and much less traffic.

The travesty is not about the Galaxy. Let's be honest, it's a dump, and there's some whiny architects who enjoy kitsch.

The issue is the apartments being proposed to be torn down. Renovation is fine, but completely tearing them down is just a lack of innovation.

"I can't believe people really want to live stacked one upon another."

Well, believe it, Ben. I've lived in apartments all my life and never had any desire to own a house, even though I could have afforded it.

Nick theoldurbanist,
Fine, you can have your choice to live as you wish. Folks that don't want to be stacked one upon another should also have a choice, other than being told "If you don't like it,get out!!

Unfortunately, the plan here is to force people through social engineering to adhere to not only extreme but negative density. Perhaps you do not live in the ghetto style housing density that has been built only in some neighborhoods.

The "greenest" option is almost never to demolish and build from scratch. No, the greenest option is almost always to leave the existing structure in place and perform the least intensive renovation possible to achieve the greatest operational energy savings.

In other words, in almost all cases, more energy will be used in the process of tearing down an inefficient building, replacing it with a LEED platinum building, and operating the LEED platinum building for its useful life, than would be used by simply continuing to operate the inefficient building for the useful life of the LEED platinum building.

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