It's a house out of a dream!

It's a house out of a dream!
Unknown Carpenter Gothic home

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust - R.I.P. 3330 SE Oak St Portland OR

  This wonderful Arts & Crafts home sold in September of 2013 for $810,000 to Lisa D Brooke of Wellington Properties LLC. It was promptly razed to be replaced with something that I'm sure is nice but is a total slap in the face to it's neighbors, the Laurelhurst neighborhood, and quite frankly the City of Portland. This WAS a unique home and I'm sure the previous owners are sick that their home was leveled. I was in the house for an estate sale a few years back and it was stunning and well maintained. I have no idea why she took an interest in this particular address for a "Statement of Wealth" home? She lives in Dunthorpe amongst the monied mansions of Southwest Portland but even there I think only the newly rich would attempt something this tasteless.
  According to Shawn Wood, the Construction Waste Specialist for the City of Portland, demolitions are at a 20 year high in 2013. He explains that there are a few reasons. First, properties that appear "historic" or that even are on the National Register or Historic Resource Inventory have no protection. The developer simply has to write the City a letter. Second, EXISTING houses come with a set of development fee credits. Essentially a developer can target a property with a low improvement value and remove it without new fees so long as what goes in it's place it somewhat the same (you can't avoid fees if you tear down a house and put up an apartment building). A new house on a vacant lot is assessed fees simply by being an improvement over well, nothing. Developers can apply this credit system to a new home that keeps only a wall or floor or something. You can see these all over town. My grandmothers home was a "remodel" because they kept one chimney base and parts of the foundation. Last but not least, there are no demolition delays. There is even such a thing as SAME DAY demolition where you can get ready, go to the City and get the permit and start trashing. No time to comment, move, or salvage. In the case of this home on Oak, I didn't know about it and who knows what happened to all the wonderful house parts inside.


  1. The scourge of demolitions is very real and a huge problem for Portland from the point of view of those who value our historic neighborhoods. But there is one inaccuracy relative to what can and can't be demolished. Individually listed National Register properties and contributing properties in National Register Historic Districts can't be torn down by just "writing a letter" to the City.

    Under the current code, adopted in the last months of Vera Katz's administration, demolitions of these types of properties are subject to a Type IV review, which means a $10,000 fee plus review by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission. If the PHLC turns down the demolition request, the case can be appealed to the City Council, which must vote on the request. For most developers who want to make a quick buck on their property investments, this is just too much trouble and risk.

    We have had a couple of cases where approval was granted, the most notable of which was the building housing the venerable Gay bar called the "Dirty Duck", which was a contributing property in the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District. But the experience so far in the Historic Districts has been that developers prefer to work outside the boundaries of the Districts where they have free rein and would rather not "fight City Hall".

  2. Has the push to list Laurelhurst as a historic neighborhood fizzled?