Monday, July 16, 2018

Capital Manor Expansion to Demolish Entire Street of Housing

You might remember the move to vacate Paradise Court NW or the approvals for the Planned Unit Development at Capital Manor in West Salem.

Or you might not. They had seemed like ordinary expansion for a retirement community and an ageing population, and did not seem to merit much attention.

But holy smokes! There's a flurry now of applications for demolition permits on Paradise Court. And it's not merely the case that Capital Manor is expanding onto land that was undeveloped or under-developed. Paradise Court looks like an actual neighborhood.

Crush all the houses! Paradise Court NW
via Streetview (from 2014)

Earlier this month: Apps on 29 demolition permits
via City of Salem (partial list)
From the land use approvals
And Capital Manor has filed applications for flat-out demolishing an entire street's worth of what look to be mostly duplexes.

So this appears to represent a transformation from a cluster of lower-cost housing to a set of luxury retirement housing.

Is demolishing a whole street of housing consistent
with our goals for more affordable housing?
That looks like a real loss of affordable housing and may not be consistent with our housing policy.

At the same time, it is at least theoretically possible that these duplexes had reached the end of their lives and would cost more in maintenance than in new construction. Or something.

But it looks more like just a set of tear-downs for 1:1 replacement with luxury retirement housing.

When we see proposals like the street vacation or PUD approvals at Council and in the prior hearings or administrative processes, the lines of bare tax lots on a map do not tell us enough about what might need to be demolished for a redevelopment project. We should have a better sense for what is being lost or discarded. Sometimes the demolition is valuable, especially when there is a significantly higher land use. (For example, the Marion Car Park has some historic value, but if it can be replaced with a mixed-use project that includes housing, it will be a much better use of land. That would be a transition from car storage to commerce and housing for people. See here and here.)

But sometimes, when it's just substituting luxury housing for lower-cost housing in essentially a 1:1 ratio, it may not meet city or environmental goals. That's a lot of embodied carbon and energy that's being lost in those demolitions! Not to mention the loss of a a chunk of starter housing or family-sized rentals.

At the moment it is not definitively possible to say that these duplex demolitions are a waste, but together they sure look suspicious.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The project is at the Planning Commission tomorrow evening.

Here's the Notice

and the Staff Report, which recommends approval

It's for 34 units - so very close to a 1:1 replacement, as you say, though it does spread out over more land it looks like.