Design Advice has been offered for the Press Blocks, the redevelopment of the former Oregonian publishing buildings in Goose Hollow. The development would include three buildings, spread over one and a half city blocks. The project is developed in partnership by Urban Renaissance Group and Security Properties. The architects are Portland based GBD Architects and Seattle based Mithun. Around 350 vehicular parking stalls and 500 long term bicycle parking spaces would be provided, in underground garages. An existing tunnel under SW 17th Ave would be retained, in order to provide a pedestrian connection between the two garages.
The existing buildings on the site were built for the Oregonian as its main printing facility. In 2015 it was announced that Advance Central Publications, the company which now prints and distributes the Oregonian, would outsource printing of the newspaper. With the buildings no longer needed, they were put up for sale.
Full Block Building
The full block site at 1621 SW Taylor Street is being designed by Mithun, and would include a 250’ tall residential tower a and 60’ tall office building. In between the two buildings would be a 30′ wide alley, leading to a plaza at SW 17th and Taylor. The ground floor programming of the two buildings is yet to be determined, but will consist of active uses such as retail/commercial lease space and live/work space. The tower was studied in a north/south orientation and an east/west orientation. The former was chosen as the preferred option in part because it would cast less shadow over the course of the day.
The materials for the buildings are still to be determined. The high rise residential tower could be clad in window wall, Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) or “high quality” fiber cement panels, glass balcony railings, and powder coated steel. Materials indicated for the low rise office building include window wall, masonry or glass fiber reinforced concrete, and aluminum or wood storefronts.
Half Block Building
The half block site at 817 SW 17th Avenue is proposed as a 120’ tall office building, designed by GBD Architects. The eight story building is being designed to allow for either a single occupant tenant, or multi-tenant configurations. The ground floor will include retail/commercial lease space, as well as service/support space for the office floors above.
Much of the discussion at the August 25th Design Advice Request hearing focussed on the height of the residential tower, which would be taller than any other buildings in the immediate vicinity (though lower than the 350′ height limit). Four members of the Goose Hollow Foothills League testified at the hearing, all in opposition to the height. With the exception of Commissioner Wark, who stated he still needed to be convinced about the height, the Design Commission was generally in support of the project’s scale and massing. During the hearing Commissioner Vallaster offered his thoughts about the height:
Well there are some [tall buildings] to the west of the Multnomah Athletic Club. There’s a tower of 12 stories or something like that, which must have been a real anomaly when that went in the 1950s. I suspect there was a fair amount of angst when the Mallory Hotel [now the Hotel Deluxe] went in, and they tore down a couple of old houses. “My God, the neighborhood is going to hell”. That just keep re-occurring, every 30 years or something like that. My feeling is that again this is part of that cycle. This seems like an appropriate place if we’re going to do high rises in this area.
The project is currently scheduled to go before the Commission for a second Design Advice Request hearing on October 6th. In order to gain approval the project will have to go through a Type III Design Review, with public hearings before the Design Commission.