ALL BETTER NOW—Willamette Heights neighbors were all smiles last month after the Montague House was purchased by Tom Saunders (on stairs). In front row are James Berry (L-R), Steve Wilson, Manan Price, Will Aitchisson, Marvin Witt and Tim Chamberlain. On stairs (L-R): Alex Aitchisson, Kursteen Price (holding Mealla Price), Nora Lenhoff and Anita Witt. Photo by Vadim Makoyed

ALL BETTER NOW—Willamette Heights neighbors were all smiles last month after the Montague House was purchased by Tom Saunders (on stairs). In front row are James Berry (L-R), Steve Wilson, Manan Price, Will Aitchisson, Marvin Witt and Tim Chamberlain. On stairs (L-R): Alex Aitchisson, Kursteen Price (holding Mealla Price), Nora Lenhoff and Anita Witt. Photo by Vadim Makoyed

Google exec yields to local history

Neighbor buys 1892 Willamette Heights house as demolition crew encircles property.

Allan Classen

Someone could make a movie of this without much tweaking. A wealthy young Silicon Valley tycoon buys a historic house in a tightly knit Oregon community while assuring locals he just wants to be part of the neighborhood.

Once the deal is done, however, he quickly moves to demolish the house and replace it with a huge, modern one, causing neighbors to recoil in shock, then rally to save the treasured landmark.

In the climactic scene, the demolition crew arrives at dawn to do the deed just as a neighbor with the means and know-how to make a difference returns from a trip, learns of the crisis, buys the house and returns tranquility to the noble little village.

Before the curtain falls, an old man living next door—overcome by shock as the bulldozer inches toward destruction—is taken away in an ambulance, only to return hours later to learn all has been saved.

With teary eyes, he proclaims, “An angel stepped in.”

That’s pretty much what happened. (Except the bulldozer; the house was to be deconstructed to recycle the materials—this is Portland after all.)▶

Continue reading

Pearl builders opt against pile driving

Neighborhood objections to noisy construction method gain traction with developers, city hall.

Allan Classen

Sitka Apartments residents endured seven weeks of pile driving across the street, but four of the next construction projects will be built with quieter methods. Photo by Vadim Makoyed

Sitka Apartments residents endured seven weeks of pile driving across the street, but four of the next construction projects will be built with quieter methods. Photo by Vadim Makoyed

The claim that no feasible alternatives exist to noisy piling driving in the Pearl District suffered a ringing blow when the primary investor in a proposed 28-story condo tower said a quieter construction method will be employed.

Joe Weston, a leading Portland developer for generations and the key financier of most Hoyt Street Properties buildings in the Pearl, said pile driving will not be employed for the new project, named Park Central, between Tanner Springs and The Fields parks.

In a May 29 letter to three residents who had complained about noisy ▶

Continue reading

NW Examiner Community Newspaper July 2014 Cover
Read this month’s issue
INSIDE:

Pile Driving. Japanese Garden. 1918 Office Building Demolition. Montague House. St. Patrick School Reunion. Micro Apartments.
And More

Bigger may not be better at Japanese Garden

Allan Classen

The Portland Japanese Garden’s ongoing use of a residentially zoned house for administrative offices has been called a red herring, and perhaps it is. The bigger problem is the organization’s unbounded growth quest and the city’s failure to balance that

Continue reading