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Rich

I agree with you: I think the destruction of The Rosefriend would be a terrible loss, for all the reasons you point out.

Like many other American cities, Portland used the wrecking ball quite indiscriminately during the middle decades of the 20th century, and we lost some architectural gems because our lack of reverence for the past. But over the past 20 years or so, we've been pretty good about preserving our early-20th-century buildings. Now, though, I worry about what might happen in the near future due to the hot condo market. The character of downtown could change pretty quickly given the scale of new things being built in comparison to the old buildings--especially if we allow more of the old buildings to be destroyed. A few modern 20-story towers could, for instance, quickly dwarf and render aestheticallly insignificant the small old apartment buildings and churches that now define the South Park Blocks area.

As long as there are empty lots, ugly and dilapidated buildings, or abandoned gas stations downtown, I see no exuse for tearing down a handsome old builing, especially one as useful as an apartment building charging modest rent.

All early-20th-century buildings downtown should be presumed precious, in my opinion. We're not at a point in our growth as a city (and I hope we don't get there in my lifetime) where we need to destroy fine architectural remants of our city's early days in order to find sufficient space for more people to live and work.

cab

This is an example of the needs of parking being more important then architecture or history. The Church from the very beginning has been doing everything possible to tear down those two historic buildings for parking. About a year ago the leader of the church was asked about saving the historic buildings on the site and his reply was "We're not in the business of saving buildings, we are in the business of saving souls" Cute line. With the mentality of this church we're lucky to be saving one building.

On that note its interesting to take a look at the buildings the local churches have been tearing down of late. On 13th an older historic building with low rents was torn down for underground parking for the church. Its now a private garden above underground parking. On 14th two buildings were torn down one with a neat mural on it for a horrible boxy church addition. Seems to be a common theme of churches NOT understanding the importance of history in our city, or not really caring. They have done a lot of damage to the urban fabric.

val

Brian, as an advocate for historic preservation around the city, i'm glad you are bringing attention to the plight of the Rosefriend Apts. This is an awesome example of an early 20th century apartment building in Portland's downtown core. It's great that the Ladd Carriage House will be saved but the loss of the Rosefriend bothers me for several reasons.

1. It makes it appear that in Portland the only things considered worth saving are those buildings connected to the "great men" of our past. It does little toward painting a true picture of our city's history when the only thing preserved are symbols of wealth. The "common man" needs consideration as well, and the Rosefriend is a shining example of a building designed for the average or even poorer residents of Portland in earlier decades.

2. Another item that I keep trying to point out to people when discussing historic preservation is that the amount of materials and energy used to destroy, then build something new, typically far outweighs those used if a building is rennovated for a new use - such as a condo building or boutique hotel. In this way historic preservation is not only good for our culture but it has positive environmental aspects as well.

3. The local media seems to also ignore the plight of the Rosefriend, mentioning it really only as an aside to their focus upon the Ladd Carriage House. They are only perpetuating the attitude I mentioned above.

Believe me, when I first heard that the Carriage House was endangered I was immediately upset and spoke out about it - especially the callous attitude of the church - but since I later discovered the Rosefriend was doomed, I have been absolutely miffed at how little attention it is receiving.

The condo-mania in Portland may be reflective of our changing population but what will be the long-term cost of erasing our past? Once its gone its gone.

Thanks for bringing this to people's attention. Endangered historic buildings are on the increase in Portland. It's up to our citizens and our government to balance our new growth with preserving parts of the past that represent a broad spectrum of humanity, not just a select bunch of so-called "great men."

val

Something else just came to mind after I had already sent my first post. If people want to see how the condo-race in Portland is affecting historic properties, take a walk along SW 11th from Taylor. Head south and look along the east side of 11th at what is quickly becoming condo-tower alley, while the wonderful Old Church is being dwarfed. It makes me wonder how long it will be before someone starts hinting at tearing the Old Church down for yet another tower.

Where does it all end?

cab

The condo's are not the issue, its the parking for the church. The tower could have been put on bland non-historic church annex building and the rosefriend fixed up. This is not an option because the church requires parking, and lots of it. Remember it was the condo builders who stepped up to save the Ladds building from demolition by the church leaders. This is being driven by parking and parking alone.

As for the little church on 12th, I think being surrounded by glass towers makes it stand out more. It contrast the modern architecture beautifully. That street is turning out fantastic with the contrasts.

val

The condos are an issue because the tower that is planned will replace the Rosefriend and the church annex building. The parking will be underground - under the Ladd Carriage House. The plans that were in the paper a while back, I forget which one, also stated that the courtyard entrance to the Rosefriend would possibly be used with the new tower. I wonder though, if they think so highly of the courtyard, why not rennovate the entire building and just replace the church annex, which is awful. They would still have their underground parking and perhaps they could create a modern building that would present a nice contrast to the old Rosefriend. It would save 2 historic and wonderful buildings, while still gaining parking and adding density along the park blocks.

This plan would also use fewer resources.

I know the first thing people often point to is that rennovating means seismic upgrades, which are expensive. Now that is an area that needs to get attention. How can people outside of Urban Renewal Areas get breaks on seismic work? If this could be solved then maybe developers would give more consideration to rennovation instead of demolition. Other cities are figuring it out - Portland needs to do the same.

I agree that the Old Church does stand out sitting between towers but my concern is that someone will see the building as expendable because all of its historic context is lost. The loss of that building would be unacceptable in my view as it is a shining example of the efforts of Bosco & Milligan (Architectural Heritage Center), who saved the Porte Cochere from destruction years ago.

Rich

Do any of you know if there's still any hope of preventing the destruction of the Rosefriend, or is it a done deal? Is there anyone in City Hall who might be sympathetic to efforts to save it? Does the City have any legal mechanism for preventing destruction of the building?

As you can probably tell from the basic nature of my questions, I've never been involved in a formal effort to save an old building from the wrecking ball.

MarkDaMan

Brian, I appreciate the attention you are bringing to this issue, but I gotta tell you, you are a little late to the party. For the last year I have been tracking the developments as they related to the Carriage House. I wanted the see the building saved, even if it wasn't at their old location. Never, until recently, did anyone ever mention saving the Rosefriend.

The developer and church listening to the concerns of the neighborhood, knowing the moving options for the Carraige House weren't going to pencil out, figured out how to save and incorporate the Carriage House back into the final design. A redesign of a project carry's many costs that the developers ate, or wont make back until they sell their precious boxes in the sky. Instead of the developer getting thanks for saving the house, he than gets hammered with the Rosefriend. It seems as though the masses will never be happy. The Rosefriend was always on the chopping block and people have stood right in front of the apartment building protesting the destruction of the Carriage House, never mentioning the more ornate historic building.

I agree the Rosefriend is a great building. I think the loss of this building is another loss to Portland, however, there comes a point when if you haven't spoken up in the year long planning stage, and now that construction is scheduled, it might just be much too little a little too late.

cab

val to provide the underground parking all three buildings on the site had to go. The the parking is the reason the Ladds house has to be moved for two years. If all the site had to do was provide for condo parking then a Quarter block building with parking below on the blocky church annex area would be sufficient. The church needs parking for its weekly repenters, that is why it needs most of the block for underground parking. The Condo is a way for the underground parking to pencil out.

mike conroy

Brian, thank you for writing this article. I fully agree with you. I used to work on broadway and I've always admired the Rosefriend. I am shocked that it's slated for the wrecking ball and think that citizens and politicians should step in and try to find a better solution than tearing down such a gorgeous piece of history. There are so many less appealing structures and empty parking lots in this town. Why tear down a treasure?

Andrew

I agree with the desire to preserve the Rosefriend, and am also curious what, if anything, can be done at this point to prevent its demolition.

It seems absurd that the City is so concerned with how much affordable housing the PDC is facilitating the construction of while simultaneously allowing the destruction of historic, beautiful, EXISTING affordable apartments.

On top of that, the "historic"-looking base of the planned tower looks awkward and ugly to me, although I DO in general support the construction of high-density residential towers in that area of Portland.

Jessica

Val asked, "Does the City have any legal mechanism for preventing destruction of the building?" In 2004, City Council approved the "Historic Resources Code Amendments," which gave the City the ability to deny demolition permits for properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, I checked the National Register database and it doesn't appear the Rosefriend is listed. That, of course, doesn't mean the building isn't historically significant (or just simply not worth demolishing), but the code doesn't extend to properties that would be "eligible" for listing.

This situation with the Rosefriend really makes me lament the lack of funding for the City's preservation program and the fact that we have not updated our historic resources inventory since the 1980s. We shouldn't rely on individual, preservation-minded property owners (who need to have the time and money to list their properties in the Register) to designate and protect the historic buildings that make Portland a vibrant, liveable city. Ideally, Portland's demolition review would apply to historically significant resources listed in an city-wide inventory, not just the Register. The Rosefriend is being demolished because we haven’t sat down and publically determined what parts of our architectural heritage we want to protect for the use and enjoyment of future generations.

cab

Lets be a bit more honest. THe rosefriend is being destroyed because a church owner could care less about it. Parking is the key issue here. I wrote Randy Lenord about this last year. He was concerned and I think helped out with preserving the ladds house. THe church from the very beginning had no interesting in saving any historic buildings. So maybe we should stop blaming the city and put the blame on the correct entity: the church. Maybe its time the church members get a view of what their church is doing to provide parking for them. They should feel some guilt.

I do know that the church also closed down a popular day care facility (without providing any help to the parents) in this deal that has a few parents fuming. The real story and blame should be out there instead of this glossed over version were the church leaders come off as some benevolent force doing the best it can to save the ladds house.

anp

You're right on, Cab. It is interesting that the church tries to portray itself as sensitive to its "place in the city" on its own website. I found this passage about a year ago, and it is still there:

"First Christian Church has not forgotten its place in Portland's history. The church’s offices are located in the ornate, century-old Ladd Carriage House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The remainder of the city block includes the Rosefriend Apartments where we have created a comfortable residential facility for people of all ages."

http://www.firstchristianpdx.com/Visitor.html#history

How hypocritical that the church has the nerve to make this statement while at the same time making every effort to demolish both historic buildings! It appears that the developers were the ones who had to persuade the church to save the carriage house, which is also an interesting turnabout.

Gerald


I really think Markdaman has a good point here. This information has been around for well over a year. People concentrated on the Carriage House, now it is too late. If they had brought these issues up when the planning was being done it is one thing, now after all the processes are done it is a bit late.

Rich

Cab:

I agree with you and others who say the primary blame for the coming destruction of the Rosefriend, and the near-destruction of the Ladd Carriage House, rests with First Christian Church. But this general situation, where a landowner is willing to destroy architecturally and historically significant buildings in the course of developing its property, does bring to light the need for some citywide mechanism for preserving older buildings even when they're not specifically on the Historic Register. As Jessica said, the city (and its citizens, I'm not simply trying to blame the city's current elected officials) should develop an inventory of historically valuable buildings that could not be demolished without being subjected to a serious review process. The task of developing such an inventory of buildings not yet on the Historic Register but deserving of preservation would not be terribly overwhelming, it seems, especially if the inventory started with commercial and apartment buildings in the downtown area.

Anyway, I guess there's not much hope of saving the Rosefriend. But for whatever little it's worth, I'll write (merely as a concerned citizen, I have no special pull) to the city council members and express my outrage over this situation and offer suggestions for preventing similar ones in the future.

I wonder if this blog could be a vehicle for strengthening and broadening Portland's historic preservation efforts. It seems likely that situations like this one with the Rosefriend will recur.

Brian Libby

I readily admit my posting about this is late to the party. I'm sorry about that. But I say it's only too late when the wrecking ball has knocked it over. Instead of saying, "Woulda coulda shoulda", let's ask something more potentially helpful: what can an emergency course of action be? Should we try and sway the leaders of the church, the developer, ask for the mayor's help? Another commissioner? Even if it's late in the 4th quarter, I don't see the harm in trying to launch a comeback.

In that spirit, who out there reading this can offer a development deal that would provide the church the parking they need and maintain both the Ladd Carriage House and Rosefriend Apartments while also introducing a modern tower into the mix?

cab

The surface parking lot accross the street was offered to the church for their parking development. They declined and Moyers bought it. The church has been single minded in trashing those buildings. THe Rosefriend to them is a money pit.

Maybe if we prayed hard enough God will tell the Church to save the rosefriend.

G. Steven Bock

OUCH! I love that little apartment building. Went to a party there, years ago. The interiors are nicely designed as well, and the views of the courtyard and streetscape are wonderful. A tragedy to lose it.

I wonder if you might append these email adresses to the end of the article? They belong to the mayor and city counselors (can't find Saltzman's). These guys can be pretty responsive if they get some public feedback. People can write one simple letter and cc all of them...It wouldn't take five minutes - and it might even work.

Tom Potter:
mayorpotter@ci.portland.or.us

Randy Leonard:
randy@ci.portland.or.us

Sam Adams: commissionersam@ci.portland.or.us

Eric Sten:
erik@ci.portland.or.us

MarkDaMan

"I readily admit my posting about this is late to the party. I'm sorry about that. But I say it's only too late when the wrecking ball has knocked it over. Instead of saying, "Woulda coulda shoulda", let's ask something more potentially helpful: what can an emergency course of action be? Should we try and sway the leaders of the church, the developer, ask for the mayor's help?"

Is it fair though? That is the question, should the developer eat the costs they have plunged so far into this project because you weren't paying attention during the over year long public process? Should any developer that wants to build on a 'historic' (this property isn't labeled historic) property have to host series of meetings before going forward with a plan? Isn't it the cities reponsibility to inventory our precious structures and protect them from this kind of development before it gets this far into the process? It appears that you and everyone else could have cared less about the building until recently. B!x mentioned a long time ago, when his blog was still active, that he was looking to move into the Rosefriend but that it was scheduled for demolition. I would have supported any efforts at the time to help save the structure. Just because a ball hasn't knocked down the structure yet, doesn't necessarily mean you still have time, or that it is right, for you to proceed with creating histeria to try and save this structure. Unless you and whoever else wants that wants to preserve this building pays the developer to reconsider and reconfigure the block I don't see how you have any ground to stand on.

MarkDaMan

^Unless you and whoever else that wants to preserve this building pays the developer to reconsider and reconfigure the block I don't see how you have any ground to stand on.

Brian

Like I said, it's a strike against me that I didn't find out about the Rosefriend's fate sooner instead of protesting so late in the game. And there's no question stopping the demolition now would cost the parties involved some money. But my feeling is that I don't need "ground to stand on" when reacting to news and expressing an opinion about it. I just found out the Rosefriend was scheduled to come down, but since it hasn't come down yet, I want to do whatever I can to influence the possibility (however slim) of its being saved. Is it practical, reasonable? Probably not. But I'm not going to apologize for advocating the Rosefriend be saved, however late in the ballgame it may be.

MarkDaMan

Even if you go whining to city leaders and they change the zoning, you still would have a M37 claim. Sometimes Brian when you miss the boat, it doesn't matter how fast you swim, you've missed the boat. So, since you have no additional recourse because you just didn't pay attention, you than advocate turning people against this church and the developer by casting them as heartless or uncaring about architecture, even when they saved the Carriage House. Have you called the developer and asked if the building could be incorporated in a new design? Has the developer said, 'no more negotiations this thing is done.' Really, the developer and the church hold all the cards, they probably don't have the money to save the building, or maybe they can, but instead build a large 'above ground' parking garage facing the park blocks, would that be more acceptable?

I don't want to see this building go, but I think the discussion shouldn't be about how to cast the developer/church as bad, your case as good, it should be about how can we save these historic structures including this one.

If you cared about architecture you'd sit with the city leaders and say, 'let's not have this happen again.' Instead, you are choosing to take on this one issue while it is very possible another historic treasure has some condo tower planned for it. Check out the closing of the Guild Theater and the redevelopment of Park Block 5. It would appear that Moyer has plans for that building. Now is the time to make sure the building is saved and incorporated into whatever plans that man might have for the structure.

Dan Friedman

I've been following the excellent thread on the Rosefriend Apartments and would like to see some discussion of the impact of the proposed Ladd Tower on the Park Blocks themselves. Here's my take:

Concerns about the proposed Ladd Tower

1) Aesthetic and socioeconomic impact of Rose Friend Apartments demolition

Built in 1910, the Rose Friend Apartments is one of the few remaining, early 20th Century buildings on Broadway. The demolition of this elegant, brick courtyard building removes 53 units of affordable housing from an area in which condo conversion and rapid development have already dramatically altered the income and social class mix, squeezing out middle-income renters and creating a neighborhood inhabited chiefly by the very wealthy and the very poor.

2) Change in the character of the Park Blocks

The South Park blocks comprise not just a unique space, but a unique _public_ space. With the exception of the Roosevelt at its foot, there are no residential or commercial buildings in the four Northern-most blocks. These blocks are populated exclusively by non-profit institutions open to a broad public: churches, theaters, concert halls, and museums. These venues draw visitors from all walks of life to downtown Portland and help to vitalize and populate the area at night and on weekends.

The very name of this area--the “Cultural District”--is derived from its public uses. The combination of a beautiful, well-maintained public space with constant traffic of strollers, dog-walkers, school-children, museum-visitors, symphony subscribers, churchgoers, and university staff and students help make the Park Blocks a cherished civic amenity. Locating a residential and commercial tower in an area that has heretofore been set aside for public uses risks fundamentally changing the character of the area and the way it’s used and perceived by the public. The Park Blocks represent a one-of-a-kind public space, like Washington Square Park in Manhattan or Savannah’s historic squares. This public space should not be treated as just one more amenity--the counterpart of the Benson’s water feature--that exists to enhance the marketability of a private condominium development.

3) Aesthetic impact

The proposed 21-story tower would be grossly out-of-scale with surrounding buildings, the near-uniform heights of which gently frame the Park Blocks and lend a visual unity and pleasing proportionality. Except for the grotesque Ione Plaza at PSU, Park Blocks buildings are closely in scale with one another, none rising much higher than the top of the park’s historic elms. With its looming, dominating, overwhelming height and mass, the Ladd Tower would dwarf all other buildings with Park Blocks frontage. Four to seven times as tall as surrounding buildings, the Ladd Tower’s hideously out-of-proportion height and mass would create a boxed-in, claustrophobic effect that would detract from the symmetry of the Park Blocks roofline and its openness to the sky.

Personally, I’m a strong supporter of dense, mixed-use, high-rise development downtown. I’m a big fan of the new Eliot Tower, for example. But picture the Eliot’s huge mass and height smack in the middle of the Park Blocks, with zero setback, and with three stories of ersatz-historical trim on the bottom and you get the idea about what’s at stake.

4) Precedent

Construction of the Ladd Tower would change the character of the Park Blocks. It would signal a dramatic shift from chiefly institutional, non-profit uses that attract a broad public to privatized uses. It would represent an abandonment of the current scale and aesthetic that make the Park Blocks an attractive and highly-utilized urban space.

Given declining attendance and aging congregations at many Park Block churches, the Ladd Tower project would set a disturbing precedent, easing the way for further changes in the uses and relative proportions of Park Block spaces and, ultimately, in the fundamental character and aesthetic impact of this unique public place.

----------------

I'm no architect, but, if the project must go ahead, it seems to me that substantial mitigation of the building's impact on the Park Blocks could be achieved by placing the Ladd Carriage House on the Park Blocks just North of the Church (rather than on Columbia as currently planned) and building the high-rise on the back half of the block, with a Broadway entrance. This was suggested to John Carroll a couple of weeks ago at the Downtown Neighborhood Association's Land Use Committee meeting and he dismissed the idea, but never really said why.

WS

In allowing ever taller buildings to be erected, directly facing the Park Blocks, the city is failing in its responsibility to exercise wise stewardship of this very precious, verdant, urban resource. Following the proposed erection of the Ladd Tower is the Moyer Tower in the block to the south of it, making a continuation of the sun and sky obstructing condo tower walls. Given the present course, we the public, in the final analysis, will be left with an increasingly claustrophobic park, once celebrated for its free access to the sun and sky in the midst of the city.

Tall buildings like this can be sited with less intrusion, farther down the hill to the east.

Once the Rosefriend is destroyed, its unlikely to be reconstructed. The square glass box, with its high income tenants, will likely hover over the Park Blocks, blocking the sun from the Park Blocks for a half century or more.

Do not let realization of these consequences at this late date stop any of you who can from taking prompt resolute action to articulate the importance of these issues to anyone and everyone who might be disposed to serious re-evaluation of the proposed tower project. We all get busy, and often don’t hear of, or lack the time to take care of important details that need to be attended to. But don’t waste any more time. It’s more than an old 5 story building. It’s the fate of the soul of the city, it’s people, and its parks, that too many individuals associated with the proposed Ladd Tower seem willing to dismiss with hardly a tear.

WS

Portland Architecture Readers:

I’m late to click on to this dialogue in regards to the proposed Rosefriend Apartment demolition/Ladd Tower construction, though I did read excerpts from it posted on IndyMedia. Please, please, I hope many of you are still following this issue, and continuing to think of ways to avert the demolition of the Rosefriend.

The alarm that the proposed demolition of the Rosefriend Apartment raises, is many faceted, as is the prospect of a 21 story tower directly facing the Park Blocks on its east side.

The loss of the Rosefriend means the loss, not only of a 100 year old example of distinguished period architecture, in exchange for an unimaginative glass box, but also the loss of affordable housing for low to low-middle income residents that is in close proximity to the Park Blocks. It seems reasonable that people of a wide range of income levels should continue to have accessible housing in close proximity to the Park Blocks, yet the city, over the last 20 years or so, seems to be methodically confining such accessibility to those of upper income levels.

Consider if you will: the appearance in that time period, of the University Park condos (formerly, an “affordable” housing provider until its related agreement with the city expired recently), the SouthPark condos, and others whose names escape me at present.

One would hope the city’s motive for doing this is borne of a need for cash, rather than need of a less honorable nature, but it raises the question of whether the end result of these actions will come to be a cause for regret.

As the developer, John Carroll, and the First Christian Church stand poised and ready to demolish the 5 story Rosefriend Aparments on Broadway, and the 2 story church annex facing the Park Blocks, replacing them with the 21 story directly facing the Park Blocks, serious consideration should be given to the change in character it represents to the Park Blocks.

The 21 story tower, in the morning hours, will cast a shadow in the direction of the Park Blocks, probably even entering them as the the days grow shorter and the sun rises no more than 30 degrees from horizontal. The tower will blot out the sky for visitors to the Park looking southeast at SW Jefferson. A reflective glass building exterior doesn’t acceptably make up for this. (you may refer to an aerial photograph of the intersection, probably taken about 10:30am/summer, accessible in the maps section of portlandonline. I didn’t notice how to post it on this site)

The combination of sun and open blue sky is and extremely important part of the experience that the Park Blocks represent to vistors to the park.

Previously, the tallest newcomer to the South Park Blocks was the SouthPark Apartments on Market St, at 15 stories. This building however, at least used somewhat of a “sun to park” accomodating design in its step back configuration. The proposed Ladd Tower poses nothing less than a big, sun obstructing box to the Park Blocks. The design team could at least have angled the east and west ends to counter to allow maximum direct sunlight into the park, and create a more interesting building.

In allowing ever taller buildings to be erected, directly facing the Park Blocks, the city is failing in its responsibility to exercise wise stewardship of this very precious, verdant, urban resource. Following the proposed erection of the Ladd Tower is the Moyer Tower in the block to the south of it, making a continuation of the sun and sky obstructing condo tower walls. Given the present course, we the public, in the final analysis, will be left with an increasingly claustrophobic park, once celebrated for its free access to the sun and sky in the midst of the city.

Tall buildings like this can be sited with less intrusion, farther down the hill to the east.

Once the Rosefriend is destroyed, its unlikely to be reconstructed. The square glass box, with its high income tenants, will likely hover over the Park Blocks, blocking the sun from the Park Blocks for a half century or more.

Do not let realization of these consequences at this late date stop any of you who can from taking prompt resolute action to articulate the importance of these issues to anyone and everyone who might be disposed to serious re-evaluation of the proposed tower project. We all get busy, and often don’t hear of, or lack the time to take care of important details that need to be attended to. But don’t waste any more time. It’s more than an old 5 story building. It’s the fate of the soul of the city, it’s people, and its parks, that too many individuals associated with the proposed Ladd Tower seem willing to dismiss with hardly a tear.

Rich

I've written a letter to the mayor and all the city commissioners expressing my distress over the impending destruction of the Rosefriend; I will also write to the Church. I urge others to do the same. I've received three responses that express sympathy with the positions taken here and say that similar letters have been received. This may not mean much--it seems true that the city has no legal course to pursue--but maybe there's still some small hope of saving the Rosefriend.

And thanks again, Brian Libby, for publicizing this issue. It's true that many of us have come to it late, but I don't think anyone should feel, as one person suggested in the comments, that our efforts to save the Rosefriend and preserve the integrity of the Park Block area is therefore somehow unfair or unreasonable or asking for too much. Yes, the developer and First Christian Church finally found a way of preserving the Ladd Carriage House, and that in itself is a good thing. But if the developer and the church had felt an adequate sense of responsibility to the community to begin with, neither the Carriage House nor the Rosefriend would have been threatened and a "public outcry" wouldn't be necessary.

WS

It’s great to hear from someone who has been so moved by the story of the Rosefriend Apartments as to actually write letters to city officials about it. I don’t understand city policies and procedures very well, but it’s frustrating to hear someone suggest that the city feels it has no legal course to pursue. The city represents the people of Portland.

As their elected and appointed representation, city government is responsible for representing the voice of Portland residents and defending the integrity of the city’s infrastructure, physically, economically, culturally, aesthetically, architecturally, and so on. Allowing important, possibly irreplaceable buildings such as the Rosefriend Apartments to be destroyed, and the character of the park to be diminished by ever taller towers is a dereliction of city government’s duty to the city and its residents.

Next time you’re downtown, standing in front of the Rosefriend, look north, across Broadway, across the surface parking lot to the back of the very ornate building there. That’s the University Club. About the same architectural period I think, about the same height. Will the city also allow that building to torn down some time in the future? To build another glass cube for upper income, second or third home condo owners?

A much more ingenious building could have been planned for the First Christian Block, allowing the church, the Carriage House, and the Rosefriend to maintain their respective positions. It could incorporated a cantilever overhang, L shaped footprint, stepping back as it rose to its max height. For the loss in square footage, the city could have allowed a height variance. The developer could also have raised the price of condos to make up for loss of square footage. The building could have, should be, a signature building for Portland, instead of a dumb, plain box.

I really think they should call up some celebrity architect, and have them take a look at the site. Gehry maybe. He’d love the challenge, and would probably bust out laughing at what the Ladd Tower development team intends to plant on this block. Personally, at least for a sense of perspective, I’d hope some people would take a look at Thomas Wills Wright’s Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. It’s radical, but has a graceful beauty I would love to see some architect in Portland employ in a design for Portland.

Meanwhile, it’s time to whip out the pen and dash off letters to the elected’s.

WS

(sorry about the double post...mistake in cut and paste, I guess)

It’s great to hear from someone who has been so moved by the story of the Rosefriend Apartments as to actually write letters to city officials about it. I don’t understand city policies and procedures very well, but it’s frustrating to hear someone suggest that the city feels it has no legal course to pursue. The city represents the people of Portland.

As their elected and appointed representation, city government is responsible for representing the voice of Portland residents and defending the integrity of the city’s infrastructure, physically, economically, culturally, aesthetically, architecturally, and so on. Allowing important, possibly irreplaceable buildings such as the Rosefriend Apartments to be destroyed, and the character of the park to be diminished by ever taller towers is a dereliction of city government’s duty to the city and its residents.

Next time you’re downtown, standing in front of the Rosefriend, look north, across Broadway, across the surface parking lot to the back of the very ornate building there. That’s the University Club. About the same architectural period I think, about the same height. Will the city also allow that building to torn down some time in the future? To build another glass cube for upper income, second or third home condo owners?

A much more ingenious building could have been planned for the First Christian Block, allowing the church, the Carriage House, and the Rosefriend to maintain their respective positions. It could incorporated a cantilever overhang, L shaped footprint, stepping back as it rose to its max height. For the loss in square footage, the city could have allowed a height variance. The developer could also have raised the price of condos to make up for loss of square footage. The building could have, should be, a signature building for Portland, instead of a dumb, plain box.

I really think they should call up some celebrity architect, and have them take a look at the site. Gehry maybe. He’d love the challenge, and would probably bust out laughing at what the Ladd Tower development team intends to plant on this block. Personally, at least for a sense of perspective, I’d hope some people would take a look at Thomas Wills Wright’s Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai. It’s radical, but has a graceful beauty I would love to see some architect in Portland employ in a design for Portland.

Meanwhile, it’s time to whip out the pen and dash off letters to our elected’s.

Peter

It's both heartening and bittersweet to see this late surge of attention for and support of the Rosefriend.

The issues have been repeatedly identified here, but I want to summarize what I see as the main points:

1. Loss of an historic FABRIC building- never a showcase, but a beautiful contributor to the city.

2. Loss of basic, dignified affordable housing downtown.

3. Erosion of the character of the South Park Blocks. A 21-story luxury condo tower is out of scale, not to mention an affront to the egalitarian feeling of this space.

4. The clear existence of alternatives. Church parking will be built under the Carriage House, it could be built under a quarter-block condo on the site of the church annex, and it could be incorporated in the coming Moyer development across Columbia St.


I would like to see the church, the developer and the architects demonstrate serious investigation of a quarter-block development on the site of the church annex. This site is a goldmine; a good development here would have incredible long-term value. The model for such a building, I think, is the Casey, under construction right now at the corner of NW 12th and Everett. This is a Gerding/Edlen project designed by GBD Architects. It occupies a quarter-block site, and is to be 16 stories with about 60 units. Its style is modern and elegant, and it is designed to be the most "sustainable" new residential building in the US. Units will be pricey, and worth it. Look for an image of this building (it's been reviewed on this blog) and imagine it next door to the Rosefriend, and along the Park Blocks. Exquisite.

I ask everyone who's looking at this discussion and sympathetic to the fate of this block, and the plight of the Rosefriend, to write letters to (a) the Commissioners and Mayor; (b) the Church; and (c) the Oregonian.

I think, too, that the most valuable thing might be to try to reach the congregation, to present the project from an outside perspective, to call attention to what is to be destroyed to make way for parking, and to present an alternative scenario. This would have to be done in a heartfelt, focused, constructive, non-confrontational way. I don't know how we could get an opportunity to speak to church members, but welcome suggestions, and a local organizer. I myself am a Portlander currently in grad school in Michigan.

Al

In my opinion WS is trying to unleash peoples emotions on this topic with solutions that have no support plan.

<1. Loss of an historic FABRIC building- never a showcase, but a beautiful contributor to the city.>
- Only an opinion (I agreed 100%) till it’s on a list of “historic preservation” or city willing to pay for building existence.

<2. Loss of basic, dignified affordable housing downtown.>
- This type of housing must be subsidized and I think a lot for this part of town.

<3. Erosion of the character of the South Park Blocks. A 21-story luxury condo tower is out of scale, not to mention an affront to the egalitarian feeling of this space.>
- Only an opinion (I don’t share)

<. The clear existence of alternatives. Church parking will be built under the Carriage House, it could be built under a quarter-block condo on the site of the church annex, and it could be incorporated in the coming Moyer development across Columbia St.>
- Alternatives are baseless. Who is going to pay for it? You have to be more specific on how to do it in reality.

ws

I’m not too good with the numbers, but I think the subject of this article; the Rosefriend and other important aesthetic resources downtown, justify an emotional response. They are in dire need of emotional response and prompt action from the public if their integrity is to be maintained.

Where are the numbers supporting the need to tear down the Rosefriend, move the Carriage House temporarily, and tear down the Annex, simply to provide the First Christian Church with parking for its parishoners, and probably, new space in the proposed tower to replace that lost by the tear down of the Annex?

If the unbuilt space on this block, minus the Annex, can’t support a building that will pay for these things, something is seriously wrong. This is Broadway, S.W. Broadway.

That the situation ever came to this, amazes me, but then, when you think about it, oversight on development downtown that should be there, isn’t. There’s no Friends of the South Park Blocks, or Friends of Downtown Architectural Conservation. How many people even know there is a Downtown Neighborhood Association, go to their meetings, or serve on their board? Incidentally, I just read they oppose the new tower.

S.W. Broadway should be among the most sought after real estate in Portland. If it’s not, why not? Don’t most people think of S.W. Broadway as the city’s commercial showplace? Isn’t it in the city’s best interest to be actively seeking out investors who would recognize the Ladd Block and its existing architecture for the value it would return to them, complimented by the addition of their own superbly designed building on the block?

Take a look at the aerial photograph of SW Park an Jefferson on the portlandonline.com website. You’ll see, there is more than a quarter block available after the Annex is gone. It’s L shaped when you include the area between the Carriage House and the Rosefriend. It offers interesting design possibilities for an architect who isn’t locked into a box configuration. Some kind of cantilever or bridge-like arch supported platform could be used as part of the new tower, cutting across the southwest corner of the Rosefriend Apartment building, high above its roof. Use it for structural stabilization, recreation, visual impact.

I believe somebody in Portland can take that block with it’s existing architecture, incorporate a new building complimentary to that architecture, with a stunningly beautiful, inspired design that will provide them with a generous return on their investment.

The church and its developer need to be urged to think of a better design for this highly visible block on S.W. Broadway and Park Avenue. If they can’t produce one, it might be better to leave well enough alone for the time being.

Peter


To the respondent who called me out for having "opinions," I would maybe call them "positions," and yes, certainly we are operating in the realm of values, not hard facts. I think you have a point, though, when you suggest that we're pushing for action on an issue which has no regulatory traction. The church and the developers are legally entitled to do exactly what they are doing.

WS writes that the church and the developer need to be urged to pursue a better design. I think this is true, and that these are the parties we want to reach more than elected officials. John Carroll, who stepped in as a second developer of this project when the Church decided to save the Carriage House, is a Portland insider. His projects are self-consciously civic, urban. I think he should and probably does want to do better.

A refurbishment of the Rosefriend financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits and PDC bonds, combined with a quarter-block condo building like the Casey (under development) might be perfect.

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