Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Court Apartments and old Rigdon Mortuary Costs of New YMCA Building

Lot's of interesting things in the YMCA piece on the front page today.

That looks like a nice, active corner treatment
and modernist, too - via CB|Two
I'm glad they are shifting the main entry and focus to the corner of Court and Cottage. That mid-century modernist arcade looks to make for a lively entry and sidewalk.

But about some of the cost, I am less sure.

You know already that the Court Apartment building, just barely a century old, will be demolished for this new corner building.

Court Apartments - Jan 1st, 1916
The IKE Box building, Rigdon Mortuary ad, circa 1930
But the IKE Box building looks to be demolished also.

But the IKE Box will be demolished (upper right) - via CB|Two
From the piece:
The 68,500-square-foot facility will cost an estimated $26.5 million to build. Nearly half of the price tag will be covered by $12 million in lottery bonds authorized last July by the Oregon Legislature. A capital campaign to raise the other $14.5 million is underway....

The plan is for the first floor to include a community meeting room and a café. The YMCA hopes the IKE Box fills the café space....

The YMCA plans to eventually use that property [the IKE box site] to build a separate structure focused on affordable housing, which has been part of the organization’s mission since it began serving Salem in 1892.

The affordable housing plan is not part of the $26.5 million construction price tag....

The building boom in the community could also impact the timeline. Construction of a new police facility and Union Gospel Mission are pending in the downtown area, and the recent passage of the $619 school bond measure could strain the skilled labor force.
As you read into the piece, there's a little bit of puffery in it; the capital campaign is actually hardly underway, and may even be a little stalled. Clearly part of the purpose of the article is to generate interest among donors. So it's hard to say how firm all these designs are. It seems likely the project will evolve and details engineered out as budgets are fixed. What we see is likely the most optimistic projection.

The affordable housing project also looks great, but seems distant at the moment.

It is notable that these big projects - Police Station, UGM expansion, YMCA rebuild, and School District bond collectively - are all from non-profits. Hopefully the for-profit sector at some point will jump in.

Not a very lively corner at the moment
The proposed corner entry itself looks great, but as that corner is bounded by a State Office Parking Structure, the WW2 memorial in Willson Park, and a surface lot (a whole half block actually) where the Chamber of Commerce used to be, the existing conditions are very inert.

Maybe a new Y building would spur redevelopment of the half block to the east between the Y and First Presbyterian Church.

The loss of old buildings with more affordable leases and rents is a real cost of this project. We've also lost the Belluschi Bank and the Barrick Funeral Home to demolition. Even with the Y's mission as a non-profit, are we making downtown a playground for the weathy? Old buildings can be important as a source of lower-cost rent for residents and as entrepreneurial incubators.

As long as the Y is able to fulfill the affordable housing project, the loss of the Court Apartments and Rigdon Mortuary could be reasonable trade-offs. But if that piece is not completed, the loss of those old building will just be a loss.

It will also be interesting to think about this in comparison with the Kroc Center project - in fund-raising, in urban form, and in style.

Anyway, lots to think about here, and obviously more to come as the project develops.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Edit: Added image credit links to CB|Two and link to Library historic photo to old Chamber of Commerce reference.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

There's a nice piece at the SJ today on the IKE Box.

From it on tension between housing and preservation:

"'We'll hear from people who want to save the building,' [Y CEO Sam] Carroll said. 'But it's not a good use of donated or public funds to save the building. We need housing, and we want affordable housing, and we can't go out and buy land. We have to use existing space.'

The property where the IKE Box sits is the proposed site of a future YMCA housing project. Plans and funding are still in the works, but the Y has a rich history of providing affordable housing since 1926. The Court Street Apartments, which it purchased in 1972 and are part of the existing Y, currently provide 18 units for men and women.