Preservationists, builders and city officials aim to reconcile the tension between new development and historic preservation.
Few issues get Portlanders riled up as much as density and demolition.
Pro-density folks cite the city’s sustainability ethic and the tens of thousands of people moving here in the coming years as rationale for the infill and apartment-building craze that has reshaped the city since the recession ended. On the other side, preservation advocates are up in arms about the demolitions that are reshaping neighborhoods with skinny homes and McMansions alike.
Responding to concerns about demolition, the city is working on several projects that will support preservation activity in residential and commercial zones.
An update to Portland’s 2035 Central City plan would alleviate the cost of preservation by giving developers a new source of funding for seismic retrofits. And staffers have been working on the Historic Resources Zoning Code Project to make changes to how Portland identifies, designates and protects historic resources.
The latter project, along with a badly needed inventory of historic assets, will create some additional parameters around demolition, says Brandon Spencer-Hartle, the city of Portland’s Historic Resources program manager.
“It’s a city of Portland priority, and there are other jurisdictions that are interested in it. We’re recognizing that there are tough decisions that have to be made. And what we would be best served by is a more nuanced and maybe more responsive historic resources set of designations and protections that can offer a couple of tracks for different situations that arise.”