Greg Goodman, whose City Center Parking company owns several undeveloped surface parking lots in the downtown area, has made a request to the Historic Landmarks Commission for permission to demolish a building he owns listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1917, the Auto Rest building at Southwest 10th Avenue and Salmon Street is owned by another of Goodman's companies Pegg Properties. It's the little brick building with Bee Cleaners across from the Bike Gallery and the new Northwest Film Center headquarters.
According to the report I read by Nathalie Weinstein in the Daily Journal of Commerce, the Historic Landmarks Commission was to have considered the request yesterday, March 10. Does anyone know if there was a decision made?
Regardless of the decision, though, it's disappointing that Goodman would target a historic building for development -- according to the DJC, he wants to build an office, condos or a hotel -- when he already owns several surface parking lots downtown. Naturally, a surface parking lot would constitute a better candidate for development than a nearly century-old building. I'm sure Goodman's company has its reasons, such as location being more preferable at the 10th & Salmon site, or whatever. But if you follow architecture in Portland, it seems pretty clear that Goodman is not acting with the best interest of our built environment in mind.
I don't want to vilify the guy or speak of his last name being an oxymoron, but how is it supposed to seem when there are these eyesores all over town in the form of surface parking lots you own, and you want to build something only where there's a historic building in the way?
The 10th & Salmon building isn't any architectural masterpiece, but it's a nice little piece of Portland's urban fabric. Obviously this is an era when the skyline is growing rapidly with big condos and offices. That makes little structures like this one all the more important as foothills to the mountains.
It was an encouraging move a year or two ago when Goodman announced that his company would begin developing their downtown surface lots. Their partnership with Gerding Edlen Development and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca on the 12th & Washington tower is seemingly going to result in a very nice building. It would be a shame for that to be undermined by Goodman's effort to demolish Portland's architectural history when there are numerous undeveloped downtown properties already in his portfolio.
The Historic Landmarks Commission has been subject to mounting criticism over the last couple years as it takes on more development projects, many of which have been modern buildings that the commission took issue with. This time around, though, the design community may be looking toward the HLC to take action, not to withhold it. But does the Landmarks Commission have the teeth (or, perhaps more appropriately, the dentures) and the will to stop one of the city's most quietly powerful landowners?
And even if the Auto Rest building gets saved, or Goodman backs off, what does this say about his company's attitude toward historic buidings?