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Ms. Sherman

I think this very site as a B.K. is critical to a Dead Kennedy's song. Perhaps "Take This Job and Shove It"? There is a connection to this place and the band, I'll try to did it up but I'm working right now.


When I first moved to Portland in 2000 I went here often because i was really really poor and lived near by. I have... memories of it, not necessarily great ones. I am fairly certain I saw a guy piss himself there once. It was either there or the old "psyco-safeway" where the Eliot tower is now.

Anyway, given its unique design and its connection to my personal history in town I was sad to see it go. When I heard it was definitely coming down on the 7th I dropped my work and went to take some pictures and say goodbye. I'm happy to see the space will be used to help people though. It certainly has found a higher purpose.


The "Psycho Safeway" still exists, it's not where Eliot Tower is now, but at SW 11th and Jefferson under the Museum Place apartments.

Brian Libby

The Psycho Safeway actually is gone as we knew it. It was originally where the Eliot Tower is, and then moved across the street to Museum Place. I used to live across the street from the old store, and it definitely had a sketchy vibe that's very different from the new Safeway.


I'm curious as to why the new building is only 3 stories. I get that Central City may only need/be able to finance a 3-story building, but it seems a bit of a lost opportunity for the location.

Kathy Pape

The building is designed with "vertical expansion" in mind and Central City Concern may add multiple stories of housing above the three existing stories in future years.


I'm disappointed there was no effort to save this classic example of modern fast food restaurant architecture. It's a shame that such a historic edifice was not preserved as a monument to the past for the benefit of future generations.


The reason why it sat fallow, was because the price of the land was too high, and for any developer, having the SRO next door was NOT beneficial except to develop similar public related services.

If you subtract the $9M that came from the federal stimulus bill, that's $227/sf of local public money. If you use the $19M figure, that's $431/sf...or about how much some people have paid for their Pearl condos.

Can you imagine, however, that the acquisition cost of the property went UP between 2007 to 2009?

At least when it was empty, the owner was paying property taxes. With (an expected) non-profit status, they'll be removing $23K in annual property taxes, and millions more potential tax revenue (if it had been developed for highest use).

In effect, we are raising taxes on ourselves, as we increasingly remove land from taxable status, forcing Portlanders to accept increased property tax rates to make up for the shortfall for other services such as emergency, education and transportation.

Just saying, nothing comes for free.


I am happy for this going through, it is a good looking building from SERA and it would be interesting to see if there is ever the expansion on top of it to make it taller than the 3 stories.

Though speaking of the architecture of the old fast food building, it definitely reflected an era of architecture, but it failed when it came to a site specific location which allowed the place to be much more dangerous than it overall should of been...though I can only speak from what I have read about it seeing I moved here after it had closed.

Though I will say thank you Brian for the little bit of architectural history on this building. Often times that kind of information gets lost within history and we see things for just face value when it comes to wishing to tear down buildings. Obviously a building like this ranks very low on the scale of buildings to save...it is sort of a pick you fights kind of war that preservationists must deal with which is why there was no real issues with anyone over this building coming down.

As for this building being off the tax base for the city, it is an important consideration, just as much as the cost of throwing people in jail rather than providing treatment places for them.

Don  Libby

You are telling Whoppers about Burger King.

Brian Libby

Marc, funny stuff there, but if this BK were truly one-of-a-kind, I'd happily argue for its preservation. :)

Sam Butler

If only we could lure more 'Chinatown' businesses to an area that became Chinatown, I'd be happier.

Got my photos, and go the photo view vistas through the space that will disappear once they start the new building.


It will be great to replace that rotten tooth.
I am envious of SERA getting to do some urban architecture with the economy the way it is.
It will be good to offer these destitute folks some medical help. It really sucks that there seems to be such a big problem.
There are way too many homeless, destitute, walking wounded people around town and I am torn between wanting to help them and just wanting the problem to go away.
While architecture will not solve the problem, it will sure be nice to improve this part of downtown and help some people in the process.


I'm not saying, by the way, that a treatment center taking land / building off the tax books is a bad thing necessarily - if the need exists, we should meet it head on - but that the site had high property tax potential. (Anyone that uses the East Bank Esplanade and the general Waterfront, knows all too well that there are a lot of heroin and crack users. Early this morning, I saw two drug users and about two dozen homeless people just on the waterfront.)

Instead of locating such unproductive (property tax) use on highly sought after areas (downtown core), why not locate them at the periphery, where high density gives way to lower density, single- and two-story structures? Master plan it so that a village of these services can be served by free public transit and provide adjacent open, outdoor space for homeless people to camp legally.

It lessens the property tax impact (and thus provides more tax money for these services), helps to build up density along the periphery, provides much easier access to services, and discourages the impromptu encampments that I have seen under the Fremont Bridge and the I-405 Freeway and many other sites that turn into impassable sidewalks.


kinda boring

Jeff Joslin

Couple of fact checks.

One of the reasons it sat waiting for a riper re-development was because after three years of abandonment, the site has lost its drive-through rights no longer allowed by Code. Neither a drive-through, nor the multiple curb-cuts (especially the one on Burnside) were allowed despite a number of fast-food and bank interests over time, some of who were very assertive, and shocked that we'd choose a vacant site over occupancy.

There have been no other substantial efforts to redevelop the site in recent years. Bill Church was not the designer for a proposal on this site, but was the original designer for the Reach Community Development site that is now 8 NW 8th.

[Brian says: Thanks Jeff. I've removed the portion of the post in question.]


I am not sure if this is what you meant by village but there is a high concentration of these clinics and shelters within and around Old Town/Chinatown and over near PGE Park, both being fairly central location areas and at the given time these two areas were becoming target areas for these shelters and clinics, they were not known as being the best parts of town...though as times change and these parts of town are starting to become more attractive, we start to get issues with "why here?" When the answer to that question was answered long ago.

Though I do like your point about along the waterfront, I am all for helping people who are in need of medical or mental health or have fallen on hard times because personally if you are willing to be homeless, there is something wrong with that person mentally and should be given the chance to seek help with that. But with the Waterfront, I would like to see those parking lots along Naito be redeveloped and the waterfront take on a more prestigious look for the city...possibly even including an architectural gem for the city, but that really is a different topic all together.


"willing to be homeless" dennis? Really?

I've met many homeless individuals, each with their own story and situation, yet one thing that was a common thread was that none of them were willing.


I don't mean willing as in waking up one day and deciding, "hey, it would be fun to be homeless." I mean it in a sense that if one is willing to let their life sink that low usually with the help of some sort of an addiction (which addictions start off with willing choices.)

Brian Libby


I think you have a fair point when you express concern about lots of social service providers clustering along Burnside. We don't want to ghettoize the homeless.

While I can appreciate the principle you're arguing here, that each person controls his or her own destiny and must take responsibility for difficulties like addiction, ultimately I don't think it's so simple. These people aren't criminals, or at least not necessarily. I like the idea of having a government that is compassionate and proactive about addressing these problems, which are the result of a complex array of both individual and societal difficulties.


Nor do I Brian, I am a huge supporter of these types of clinics rather than expanding our prison system and treating the homeless as criminals. I grew up in a city that would just pick them up downtown, then take them over to a poverty stricken neighborhood and drop them off so it was an out of sight out of mind kind of attitude to dealing with such situation. I would much rather be in a city that showed some compassion to its poorest of citizens.

Though, like any addiction, there is no simple answer or solution to such problems, which would go far beyond this topic of what is replacing this building...which I am actually interested in seeing how this building turns out at that location, and I am really hoping the building sticks to its true white color in the renderings...Portland could use some white buildings to break up some of the more drab color buildings that we have.


@Dennis, no, I am not referring to the collection of homeless services in Old Town and the Pearl. Those are mere infill, hardly master planned, and still inside of the downtown area. They are still taking up valuable property and erasing the property taxes that could effectively fund these homeless programs on cheaper land.

For instance, we have an SRO being built kitty-corner to the Amtrak station, and by the way, it blocks one-quarter of the view of one of our city's iconic symbols. There is no master planning involved, just a building plopped into downtown, taking away property taxes and blocking the Amtrak station.

(Now don't get me wrong, I'm also very upset with the surface parking lot infill that produces income for property owners who are waiting for land prices to rise high enough to make it worth selling or developing into higher use.)

I am literally talking about creating an urban version of New Columbia. I mean, either HAP's strategy of creating these villages of housing and services is a failure and it should be stopped, or it's a template for SRO and homeless services.



Are you suggesting that the Housing Authority or some other agency should purchase a large tract of land downtown (such as the post office site), and create (or "masterplan" as you say) an urban village for the homeless? Is that really the way to develop inside the central city? What would that achieve as opposed to carefully selected infill?

From what I understand, the homeless housing by Union Station had quite a lengthy community process to find its site, and was anything but "plopped" there.

I'm just trying to understand your point, besides your unrealistic nostalgia for lost view corridors across vacant, underused lots.


Looking more at the proposed design, than the political landscape, I am surprised that the two buildings don't look a little more reflective of each other. I don't mean siblings, or uber contextual, but maybe cousins. The elevation that faces burnside appears to miss an opportunity of working together. Maybe the three story massing makes this difficult. It looks nice as a stand alone building, but I am looking for that extra layer of complexity between the two buildings.

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