Friday, October 21, 2016

City Council, October 24th - 245 Court Street

Council meets on Monday, and the Urban Renewal Agency has a one-item agenda, to confirm an Urban Renewal grant for the 245 Court Street project.

Preliminary Concept for 245 Court Street
(Notes added) - via CB|Two
So there's lots to be cranky about right now at the City. But here's some good news.

The Urban Renewal Agency looks to sign off on "$740,000 in Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area grant funds to partially fund construction costs for a to-be-built 43,000 square foot mixed-use commercial building at 245 Court Street."

Especially in comparison with the Rivers Condos just across Court Street, there's a lot to like about this project:
  • Choices about how to greet the sidewalk are right! The storefronts face Court Street rather than Front Street. The facade at the Front Street sidewalk will mostly be screening for some covered parking tucked under the building. If you have to sacrifice one of the sides to the parking garage, the Front Street side is the right one.
  • There's also a small plaza between the two buildings.
  • The existing Safeway will be modified, basically cut in half for modern storefronts, and not completely demolished.
  • Parking will be accessed off the alley and be screened from the sidewalks by buildings.
Basically this is all you could ask for. (Except for the unrealistic wish for no parking at all!)

And, considering that the City approved a $750,000 grant for a Nursing Home at the Boise site (see below for final approvals on site plan), this is also a better targeting of urban renewal subsidy.

It'll be interesting to learn about any substantive complaints or criticism. Mostly it looks like exactly the kind of project that will enhance downtown.

Pioneer Trust Bank: Mid-rise perfectly scaled here
The 245 Court will be to the same scale
The project is still in a preliminary phase, so there may yet be changes before final approvals. (Previous note here.)

Other Notes
Postscript, Nov 3rd

CANDO transcribed the Mayor's skepticism at Council of the little plaza and what looks like a vision of downtown that is a playground for the wealthy:
At last night's meeting of the Urban Renewal agency, CB2 Architects presented their design plans for a cool new "mixed use" development on the corners of Front and Court Street that will use urban renewal funds and bring 40 units of 1 and 2 bedroom rental housing to downtown. (CANDO officially endorsed this project at its last meeting.) The response was nothing short of enthusiastic, except the Mayor had a concern:
I notice that a landscaped plaza is planned for the open area between the two structures and will provide both private and public open space? Well, being one of the Chairs of the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative and dealing with so many of the issues of the homeless in downtown, and the many vagrancy problems that we are facing, I'm concerned about any amount of public space...I'm sure you don't want to build it like a fortress with gates and walls, but as a downtown resident, there are moments when I feel like I would like to live behind gates and walls. It's just a reality of the environment that we have downtown.
It seems the Mayor "just wanted to be certain that we weren't imposing upon you a responsibility to provide public space in order to receive grant funds." In response CB2 said, "We have not put any thought into how we are going to control the homeless people."


Anonymous said...

Good to see more downtown housing built. A few quibbles:

1. To be fair to the Rivers, their site is not adjacent to Court Street. There is a separate parking lot between the Rivers and Court Street.

2. Last I heard the existing Safeway building will be removed and replaced rather than keeping any part of it, but things might have changed.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with comments from the Mayor