Design Advice Offered for 1638 W Burnside (images)

Design Advice has been offered to Ankrom Moisan Architects for a project at 1638 W Burnside St. The 8 story tall building for Atlanta-based developer Wood Partners will include 138 residential units, 83 below-grade parking spaces and 209 long term bicycle parking spaces. 5,791 sq ft of ground floor commercial space is planned, with retail spaces facing W Burnside at Level 1 and SW Alder St and Level 2.

1638 W Burnside

The project would be located on the block bound by W Burnside, SW 16th Ave, SW Alder St and SW 17th in Goose Hollow. A 2 story 1926 building, with a single story 1964 addition, is currently located on the site. The existing building is currently occupied by Jaguar Portland, formerly known as Monte Shelton Motor Company. A 1909 apartment building on the same block is not part of the site and will remain.

1638 W Burnside

The building would be arranged in a U-shape, with a south facing courtyard at level 3. A clubroom and terrace is planned at level 8. Projecting oriel windows are proposed on the W Burnside elevation at levels 3 to 7, to help the building mass better align with the existing building that will remain on the block.

1638 W Burnside

1638 W Burnside

Primary materials for the building include brick, black vinyl windows, black metal panels and black aluminum storefront.

1638 W Burnside

At the November 10th advisory hearing much of the discussion focused on the extent to which the building will be required to step back from W Burnside. As outlined in a memo to the Design Commission, a condition of the development will require 7′ of the site to be given to the Bureau of Transportation, to allow for the existing 8′ sidewalk to be widened to 15′. A “Special Building Line” provision in the zoning code, unique to W Burnside St, requires that new buildings also be set back 10′ from the new property line, which would result in a 25′ wide sidewalk. The applicants requested that the 10′ requirement should be waived, with the sidewalk only widened to 15′ (the widest standard configuration in the Portland Pedestrian Design Guide).

While this 10′ setback standard has long been in the zoning code it has never been fully implemented. The Design Commission has previously approved some degree of modification to the standard for the Brewery Blocks, The Civic and the Stadium Fred Meyer rebuild. The architects further argued that the Special Building Line, which applies between 10th and 21st, will never be fully realized due to the presence of historic buildings and small triangular parcels that are unlikely to be redeveloped. The members of the Design Commission present agreed with the applicants’ arguments, stating that a 25′ wide sidewalk would be excessively large and do little to improve the urban character of W Burnside St. As mitigation for the potential modification the Commission signaled that they would be looking for a design that created very active ground floor, with no dead spaces facing the street.

A Type III Design Review is now pending for the project. The project will need to go in front of the Design Commission at a public hearing in order to gain approval.


5 thoughts on “Design Advice Offered for 1638 W Burnside (images)

  1. It was always confusing why the city put in that special setback. Was it in order to get wider sidewalks? PBOT’s requirements do that. Or wider travel lanes? Or room for bike lanes? This decision seems to ignore all that with the argument that they’ll “never” get the entire stretch widened. Well, you certainly won’t if you stop requiring the setbacks.

    How about another place with Special Setbacks, SE Powell, from McLoughlin to 52nd? Was that to be able to widen the road? It’s not ignored, but necessary stairways, etc. are being built in it that would make road widening difficult. And sometimes it’s confusing which widening is PBOT’s requirements, and which is because of the setback. (Like at the new McDonalds at 29th.)

    • I suggest that the Fitness room at street-level on Alder be changed to Retail in order to better activate the Alder sidewalk. Then replace one of the 3rd level inner corner apartments with Fitness because that apartment location is less than desirable. From Fitness there could be roof garden access for maintenance.

  2. I understand wanting to have active ground floors in the central city but is there really a need for more retail space? I see lots of empty storefronts and an entire floor of Pioneer place is empty. Macy’s will soon be leaving their building. More and more shopping is being done on line. Are these new buildings going to have mostly empty retail spaces facing the streets?

    • That does seem to be an issue. They want lively spaces at ground level but often the market won’t support that. How many restaurants and shops are really needed? Then when the spaces don’t fill up, the whole neighborhood suffers and looks like it was a bad decision to build.

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