As noted in Monday’s Daily Journal of Commerce, the Portland Development Commission City of Portland has applied to demolish the old Dirty Duck Tavern building – a contributing structure in the New Chinatown/Japantown National Register Historic District. As proposed, the project would replace the Dirty Duck building with a new 3-4 story building for the Blanchet House, who currently occupy the only other building on the block. There are several things we are concerned about on this issue:

First, as noted above, the building is recognized as a contributing structure in the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District. This designation is the only reason for the demolition review. In other words, if this modest building cannot be protected from the wrecking ball, then what can?

Second, there are only two buildings left on this entire block which represents the northeastern corner of the historic district. Removing the one structure would likely doom the old Blanchet House building as well and thereby weaken the overall integrity of the historic district.

Third, the fact that there is already a bunch of empty space on most of the block should not be ignored. Apparently, the PDC City has a long-term lease with NW Natural to use that empty space as a parking lot. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to put that parking area to highest and best use by renegotiating the lease and using that space for a new Blanchet House?

The Portland Landmarks Commission will be reviewing the demolition request on Monday, January 11th. This represents a real test of the demolition review policy established by the City back in 2004. We encourage anyone concerned to let the PDC and the City Council know about it. More information about the proposal can be found here.