Sunday, September 19, 2021

JC Penney Building Sold, Odd Fellows Hotel Broke Ground in 1921, Mystery at Landmarks Commission - Bits

You probably saw the news that the former JC Penney building finally sold.

JC Penney listed for $4.7M, sold for $2.9M

It sounded like they had to agree to a discount, nearly 40% off the original offering price. The new owners are signalling they will divide the large shell into several smaller units, for retail, office space, housing, or a mixture. They intend to perforate the shell with more windows, which would be a good thing, both for any new tenants and their light, but also for passers-by and sidewalk life. The blank walls on the building as well as across the street on the Mall and former Nordstrom just deaden the sidewalks.

Hopefully the momentum to delete the skybridges continues, and there is new interest both in Liberty Plaza and in Belluschi crater. This is an important set of corners for downtown!

Previously on JC Penney:

A Mystery Hotel Project?

On Wednesday the 15th, via social media the Historic Landmarks Commission teased "a major historic design review of a proposed seven-story hotel" for their meeting on the 16th.

That's big news, and something nearly certain to be downtown in the Downtown Historic District.

But there was no Public Hearing Notice published to the City Notices page nor any agenda or Staff Report for a September 16th meeting.

Missing Agenda and Staff Reports

Was it a modification on the New Holman Hotel? A project for Belluschi Crater? Something else? If we find out more, we may update this - or it could merit a whole new post.

A Definite, Historical Hotel Project

100 years ago, the Odd Fellows announced plans for the Central Stage Terminal and Hotel building immediately south of the Grand Theater.

August 7th, 1921

The very first mention came on August 3rd, 1921. Just as trivia, the front page of the morning paper is terrific and broad. The main headline is on the Black Sox baseball gambling scandal of 1919. Around it is opera news, on the death of tenor Enrico Caruso. There are other bits on the labor tensions at the new hospital building site on Center Street and gossipy notes on visitors to the auto camp ground where Pringle Park is today. The range of interest on the front page is much greater. It's busier, of course, and harder to read, so it's not "better" by those measures. Just different, when the media ecosystem hadn't become so fragmented and niche.

August 3rd, 1921

The building and hotel opened the next year, and represented another moment in transportation history also. There were already motor stages and jitneys between cities, but this formalized terminal building institutionalized them more firmly, and took them off the streets where they had caused - wait for it... - conflict over curbside parking areas.

February 11th, 1922

The lot had been vacant for a while, used for billboard advertising, and perhaps a paddock for the Fashion Stables on the corner.

The empty lot and fence, very early 1900s
(Salem Library Historic Photos)

About a decade later, the Oregon Electric ran up High Street and masonry buildings replaced the wood frame ones, most notably the Masonic Building. But the lot remained vacant. (You can also see the fence and billboards peeking behind the Courthouse if you zoom in on this photo.) It's worth remembering that our "historic" downtown is second-generation redevelopment, masonry buildings that replaced wood-framed buildings.

Still vacant, circa 1912
(And more on the image here)

Update, Tuesday

The City's published the agenda and Staff Report for the HLC meeting of the 16th. Indeed, it was for a modification on the New Holman Hotel, a request "to install commercial grade vinyl windows (Innotech) with an aluminum clad exterior frame in lieu of the originally approved aluminum clad wood windows on floors 3-7...." So it is not very significant really.

There is a crane!

But they've started construction and there's a crane. So that's nice to see.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with brief note on the HLC meeting and a photo of the construction site.