Friday, July 18, 2014

Union Gospel Mission Considers Move North out of Downtown Location

You probably read about the fire at the Union Gospel Mission thrift store at the corner of Commercial and D Streets.

But you might not have heard that the shelter is considering moving from the downtown location at Center and Commercial a few blocks north to a half-block site that includes the store property.

At the Planning Commission on Tuesday there was a proposed zoning change to permit a shelter in the Riverfront Overlay Zone.

Letter requesting zone change

The shelter could be the whole half block;
addresses correspond to those in letter.
The thrift store is in the NE corner at 885
There's a lot of parking lot there right now, and across the street is the cluster of O'Brien car dealerships, so it's not like the area is well used at the moment.

At the same time, there are other established businesses there, and a large shelter may not be their idea of appropriate redevelopment. The City, too, might have other ideas for the O'Brien parcels, ideas not necessarily enhanced by a large shelter. 

O'Brien parcel in car-dealer land at Division and Commercial
The City hopes for higher-density mixed-use development.
(UGM area is strip on left hand side of Commercial)
One of the Sustainable Cities Initiative projects, in fact, was an analysis of mixed-use redevelopment there and along the waterfront.

Grocery Outlet also recently rezoned their parcel with a view to future redevelopment.

So this is an area in transition, and no matter what is done, we should want it to be done well.

Bikes on sidewalk and in UGM lot, Center and Commercial
It's also the case that the current site of the shelter has a very large number of parked bikes there daily. A shelter here would serve a large proportion of people who rely on bike transportation, and bike lanes and parking facilities should be a priority.

It will be interesting to learn more about the proposal. A move could release the downtown parcel for its own round of redevelopment.

There are lots of potential trade-offs, and without more information it's not possible to evaluate anything. There don't seem to be any formal permit applications, so it seems the project remains in the "pre-application conference" phase.

The most detail might be in the draft minutes from the June downtown neighborhood association, CAN-DO:
UGM President and CEO Mike Rideout presented plans for the UGM’s move to north to the location of its store (885 Commercial Street at D Street). The Mission has been in existence for 61 years, 59 at the current location. The 190-bed facility (which must sometimes house 235 men) has structural problems, renovation would be extremely difficult and is simply not feasible. Mission staff have been working for several years with City Planning staff and the Mayor to develop a plan acceptable to the City and is in the middle of a capital campaign to fund the move, expected to take 18 to 24 months. The present hurdle is a code provision limiting facilities like UGM to 75 beds (enacted some time in the past 60 years, for reasons no longer known), but that is expected to be overcome. Mr. Rideout invited any interested to tour the Mission at its current location and learn about the Mission’s successes. He also invited neighbors of the UGM Store and adjacent property owners to get in touch with him to discuss any concerns they might have.
More to come, obviously. This is an important project, and again one that can be done well or one that can be done shoddily.

Bud Clark Commons in Portland - via HUD
Though Salem's budget will be vastly smaller, by all accounts the 2011 Bud Clark Commons in downtown Portland is amazing by itself and amazing as part of the urban fabric. (See the American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Portland Architecture. The google will turn up more praise.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully they will build a nice facility like they did in Seattle: