This is an updated version of a post originally published in August 2015.
Construction is underway on The Woodlark hotel, a major renovation of two downtown buildings. The project will convert two adjacent National Register listed buildings into a single hotel, to be operated by Provenance Hotels. News of the 151 bed hotel was first announced in February 2015, after years of uncertainty over the future of the Cornelius Hotel building, which faced possible demolition as recently as 2013. The renovation is being designed by MCA Architects and funded by NBP Capital.
The French Renaissance style Cornelius Hotel stands at the corner of SW Park Ave, and dates from 1908. In its early days the hotel welcomed everyone “from railroad officials to the king and queen of the burgeoning Rose Festival”, but became low income housing by the 1950s. By the 1960s and 1970s a gay bathhouse operated in the lower floors of the Cornelius (the nearby McMenamins Crystal Hotel has a similar history). In 1985 the upper floors of the building were damaged by fire, and the building has been largely vacant since then. The building was acquired by Arthur Mutal in 2013, who announced that they intended to save the building from demolition.
Immediately adjoining the Cornelius is the Woodlark Building, which was built in 1912. The early commercial style building was originally built for Woodard, Clarke & Company, a wholesale drug company. The Woodlark Building was acquired by Arthur Mutal in 2014. Until recently it was in use as Class C office space, with ground floor retail. In August of this year retailer Johnny Sole, which had operated at the since 2000, announced it would close.
The new hotel will include a restaurant in the ground floor of the Woodlark building, to be operated by ‘Top Chef’ finalist Doug Adams, who was most recently a chef at Imperial . The Cornelius will be used as the main entry to the hotel, with entrances from both SW Alder St and SW Park Ave. A lounge / bar will face onto SW Park Avenue. New storefront window systems will be installed at the ground level of both buildings.
In order to make the required life/safety upgrades to the buildings, a new elevator penthouse and stair tower will be constructed above the roof of the Cornelius Hotel. Existing exterior metal fire escapes and standpipes will be removed from both buildings. Where deteriorated windows need to be replaced, new windows will be constructed to match the existing windows.
The exterior alterations to the building were approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission in August 10th 2015. In the conclusion to the Final Findings and Decision the project was found to be “welcome”:
The rehabilitation of historic buildings is a welcome activity, and particularly encouraging in the case of the Cornelius Hotel which has previously been damaged by fire and proposed for demolition. The applicant’s proposal to rehabilitate both properties with minimal alterations to existing historic material, and specifically the decision to rehabilitate the original windows with new insulated glazing, is commendable. Likewise, the proposed restoration of historic ground floor conditions with minor alterations will restore the glory of both of these buildings in a manner that many Portlanders have not seen. Other alterations, such as the rooftop mechanical units, stair tower, and elevator overrun are necessary additions to make the buildings meet Life Safety requirements and they will have a minimal effect on the overall historic character of the buildings. The purpose of the Historic Resource Review process is to ensure that additions, new construction, and exterior alterations to historic resources do not compromise their ability to convey historic significance. This proposal meets the applicable Historic Resource Review criteria and therefore warrants approval.
A building permit was issued for renovation in September 2016. According to the Portland Business Journal The Woodlark is expected to open by the end of 2017.
Plans, Sections and Elevations