|Breitenbush Hall, January 2017|
North Campus Historic Buildings Will Come Down.")
The only proposal that has seemed worth continuing to discuss, though, was the Chusal one. DAS can make a reasonable case that the first was premature, and the bare land proposal can still be in play or further refined after the demolition is completed. You might disagree, but from here these don't seem worth dwelling on at the moment.
|Demolition plan for comparison|
|Chusal Concept Site Plan|
(Click to enlarge)
In the northwest corner, it keeps the park, and in the northeast corner (1) it proposes four rows of duplexes. 40 in all, plus another six just south of the park parcel.
In the southern half there is a mixture of office buildings and perhaps a few apartment blocks.
(2) One building in the southwest corner almost looks like a convenience store or drive-through restaurant or other mall-ish configuration.
And there's a whole lot of parking.
The sidewalks mostly connect to interior parking lots. (3) The buildings along Center Street, especially, do not appear to relate primarily to the sidewalk and instead relate to the interior parking lot. They are more suburban than streetcar urban in this configuration.
The proposal also contains two letters of friendly curiosity - but nothing like a commitment to lease - from Marylhurst University and Oregon College of Art and Craft.
Separately, a November 10th letter from DAS gives some of the reasons the proposal was not deemed viable:
The proposal...involved more than simple reuse of the existing buildings. It included very intense development of the remaining property. DAS consulted with the City of Salem departments of Urban Development, Community Development, and Public Works, and the discussion focused on what the proposers wanted to build. We felt the proposed site plan was generally unbuildable in the context of the Oregon State Hospital Historic District. Further, all the on-site and off-site infrastructure needed for a "bare dirt" sale was also going to be required for this proposal, without the benefit of Systems Development Charge (SDC) credits for demolished buildings. Many of the existing trees on the property would have been [also] removed with the density represented.Certainly, when you look at the site plan above, it is rather intensely developed, and it is not clear how this would be different from the intensity that neighbors have criticized and feared. And like the DAS letter says, it looks like most of the trees would have to be cut down anyway for all those buildings and parking lots to fit. The scope of tree preservation is not so clear after all, and in fact looks dubious.
The concept is also primarily autoist and would not be pleasant to walk through. The site plan is clearly a drive-to destination, with a substantial focus on an "incubator for economic development with higher education occupants," a commuter campus, and not something that creates neighborhood gathering places.
(It is, to be honest, a little surprising that some neighborhood advocates seem enamored of the proposal, which doesn't actually seem to meet very many of their published concerns. Have they seen these plans? Or are they just responding to to "save trees, save buildings"?)
You may disagree of course, but from here it looks like the "bare dirt" concept and resulting development stands a very good likelihood of yielding something much better than this. Rather than wedging things awkwardly in between existing buildings, development of the "bare dirt" will afford a more organic disposition of space, building mass, and movement of people. There is a non-zero chance it will still get screwed up, of course, but there's a lot more upside with the blank slate approach.
This is why it continues to seem like demolition and redevelopment from a cleared site east of 25th Street, along with adaptive reuse for Yaquina Hall and the Dome Building, remain a reasonable compromise and offer the best chance - not yet a certainty, alas! - of a development plan that creates a vibrant, lovely, mixed-use place.