|260 State Street birds eye view|
(Marion Car Park on left, and Scott's Cycle in middle)
When an earlier note was posted to FB, it immediately brought talk about parking: The project must have underground parking, there's not enough parking, it's impossible without more parking, etc.
Our mania for subsidized, free car storage is the dominant interpretive lens for anything downtown, and even dominates in residential areas.
We have to interrogate and end this!
If we demand that land and construction budget be allocated to car housing, how are we ever going to create affordable housing for humans?! This is a real trade-off that people don't want to take very seriously, or want to wave off as something that can magically be resolved. But car parking adds to the cost of housing, whether it's downtown or in a residential neighborhood. If we want to reduce the cost of housing, eliminating mandatory car parking is an important and direct step. It won't solve affordability problems by itself, but it's an essential ingredient. (See these discussions of the cost of housing and ways to reduce it for Portland and Seattle.)
|18 spaces on the interior:|
A very small parking area behind ground floor retail
|Our Swiss cheese downtown:|
Downtown Surface Parking Lots in Red
Parking Garages in Solid Brick Red
On-street parking stalls not included
|Typical floor plan - mostly studios, corners with bedrooms|
|NE corner detail (at State and Commercial)|
But some of the plan views seem to show the project abutting Scott's* and using the strip of 129 Commercial Street.
I think that the project will still end up before the Planning Commission for a separate design review and the footprint will be clearer then. This part is mainly about the building facade and mass and the way it fits into the context other historic buildings. (There are some other interior details to comment on at a site plan and design review.)
The Staff Report for the Historic Review is generally complimentary:
The applicant is proposing a six story building, and while there are a limited number of historic contributing buildings exceeding two or three stories within Salem’s Downtown Historic District, the Masonic Temple (Franklin Building) is seven stories, the United States National Bank Building (Pioneer Trust Bank) is close in height at five stories, and the Old First National Bank Building (Capitol Tower or Livesley Building) exceeds this height at eleven stories....While the windows are not of a form typically found on historic contributing buildings, the overall design of the proposed building generally reflects the tripartite form of historic contributing buildings in the District with an articulated base, column, and capital, with the patterning of the windows forming the vertical ‘column’....It proposes only one condition, on archeology, perhaps interesting in light of the proclamation about the Treaty of 1855 at Council tonight:
Overall, the proposed design of the building is compatible with the Downtown Historic District.
The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office has indicated that there are two archaeological sites on this property and an archaeological permit shall be required prior to any ground disturbing activity on the property. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde have also contacted city staff and indicated the sensitive nature of the site(s). Therefore, staff recommends that the HLC adopt the following CONDITION:Hopefully HLC will find no real problems and can send this on for the next step. It looks like a good project.
Condition 1: The applicant shall provide a copy of the state archaeological permit authorizing the proposed ground disturbing activity on this site prior to issuance of grading and building permits for new construction.
A separate matter at the HLC is the two Sequoias near 17th & Chemeketa. The Staff Report recommends affirming the denial of permission to cut down the trees. But clearly it's a matter of time. The denial is on a technical point: That the owners haven't yet submitted evidence that meets the City's requirements. But it will not be difficult to hire an engineer to compile that evidence, and that will happen eventually, this year or very soon. I read this as a procedural matter rather than about tree preservation policy, and not something that really demands much comment. See the Staff Report for more. Maybe tree advocates will have more to say.
* As a footnote, with the proposed hotel for the Marion Car Park area this block face is now facing a real step up in height and in intensity.
|From The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton|
(See also this Strong Towns post for a sense of the narrative)
Here we should see it as more neutral: We have a housing problem, we have a downtown still hollowed out by mid-century autoism, and we have a lot that was empty for a long time after a fire. This project would be a restoration and repair to the downtown urban fabric.
But what then for Scott's? Maybe they will want to stay, maybe they will want to build a bigger building, but maybe they will want to move, and we should prepare ourselves for this. And they would deserve special consideration because of the longevity of the business. Just something to think about.
|The first Scott's at 252 State Street on the alley at left,|
between 1916 - 1918.
(Oregon State Library, notes added, date range corrected)