Lot at NE 6th and Davis - Behind the existing apartment buildings

It seems that the folks at the BDS are having trouble with the link to the meeting notice regarding this development. For the third time the link has changed in the past week or so. Here it is as of this afternoon: http://www.portlandonline.com/bds/index.cfm?c=42262&a=329221.

The meeting on 12/16 is for “Design Advice” only. For those interested in saving the building,  if you intend to speak at this meeting, you must couch (no pun intended) your arguments within the subject of “design advice”. You could, for example, suggest that the design should retain the Couch side facade, integrating the existing buildings into new construction on the vacant portion of the block.  That would be a win-win for everyone – and be wonderfully sustainable.

Once again the City and/or the developer, appear to be trying to pre-empt opposition to the new building by touting all of the “green” features it will have and also noting how the existing buildings will be deconstructed. This sort of argument has been used repeatedly in Portland in recent years – but it leaves out important points:

Just because materials are recycled or deconstructed does not mean they will all be re-used.  It should also be noted that it takes energy to turn recycled materials into something else.  Meanwhile, energy is consumed in the deconstruction and recycling processes – energy that could just as easily be applied to the renovation of the existing buildings. In a nutshell, regardless of all the “green” bells and whistles a project such as this may include, it still means the consumption of untold tons of materials for new construction. As the National Trust for Historic Preservation states, “We can’t build our way out of climate change.”

Isn’t it time we got more creative in figuring ways to integrate existing buildings into new developments?

Beyond energy consumption and the environment, we should also remember that many people consider the existing apartments home. Is it really the most socially sustainable option to cause the relocation of dozens of residents or is gentrification (as in out with the old and in with the new) the real purpose at work here? We certainly hope the developer will consider alternatives to this project other than the complete removal of the existing buildings.