An earlier version of this post was originally published in December 2014, prior to the building’s approval. The post has been updated.
Site work has begun for Block 8L, a 6 story mixed use development in the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District by Ankrom Moisan Architects and Gerding Edlen development. Located one block north of the University of Oregon’s White Stag Building, Block 8L’s ground floor will house the U of O’s new MBA Program and sports product management initiative in a 11,500 sq ft space fronting onto NW Naito Parkway. Three small retail spaces will be located at the corner of NW 1st and NW Davis. The second, third and fourth floors of Block 8L will be offices, which Ankrom Moisan intend to occupy as their new primary office. The fifth and sixth floors will have 65 residential units, 16 of which will be affordable [PDF] to those earning less than 80% of median family income, for at least 10 years. The building will include 107 long term and 10 short term bicycle parking space. No on site vehicular parking is proposed.
The project is located on a three quarter of a block site at NW Naito and Couch, which has been mostly vacant since the 1930s, when the cast iron Northern Pacific Railroad and Oregon Railway and Navigation Company building was demolished. A quarter block building at the southeast corner of the block, most recently used by the Oregon Mountain Community, was demolished by the Portland Development Commission in 2010. The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) is located on the remaining quarter block, in the former Globe Hotel building.
The primary building materials proposed are a white “Aspen” brick with a natural or grey mortar, white stucco, ebony metal panel and black fiberglass windows.
Separating Block 8L from OCOM will be a pedestrian alley, running from NW 1st to NW Couch. This feature, required to maintain an easement, drew some comment during the Design Review, as alleyways have not traditionally formed part of Old Town, where continuous street walls were the norm. As a response to this criticism the architects added brick portals, to ensure a continuous rhythm between OCOM and the proposed building at the street level.
Fronting onto NW Naito Parkway will be a cast iron “grove”, utilizing 13 columns, a response to the Design Guidelines for the Historic District, which encourage the “appropriate re-use of available cast iron elements.” The project also plans to make use of the City’s Historic Cobblestone inventory, by using 768 square feet of cobblestones will in the alleyway and in the NW Naito Parkway right-of-way.
Due to its location in one of Portland’s designated Historic Districts, the Design Review for Block 8L was performed by the Historic Landmarks Commission. The Commission approved [PDF] the building in December 2014. The project is scheduled for completion in 2016.