WHAT ARE THEY BUILDING DOWN THERE?

By Gilian Foley

The Pigeon Press (Portland, Oregon)

This NW Academy writer reflects on recent building developments in Portland. 

Last month, Jefferson Street was closed between SW 11th and 12th Avenues to allow a private construction project to set up a tower crane. This project is the development of Sky3 Place, a mixed residential and retail building

The closure extended from Jan. 9-12. Matthew Sissom, who works for the city of Portland managing traffic, said that the closure would not extend beyond the weekend because it would be too disruptive for traffic.

Construction has been underway for months on the corner of Jefferson Street and 12th Avenue, creating noise, blocking sidewalks and shutting down two entire lane of traffic. This has greatly affected Northwest Academy students and faculty, since their campus is essentially next door to the site.

Mary Folberg, Head of School, doesn’t mind the construction.

“I mean, it’s temporary and that’s the only way they can build the building,” Folberg said. “I don’t know. They’re the experts. I mean, they’re working on the entire half-block and it looks to me like that building and the parking are going up to the end of the property. They don’t have much choice but to use the sidewalk and the street.”

However, some students are frustrated by the construction because it affects their commute to school. Ky Stanion, a sophomore, said that the construction has created a large amount of traffic, which makes it harder for him to get to school. Stanion said that, in an incident last month, traffic around the site was so crowded that he resorted to getting out of the car and running to school.

“I live over near Council Crest, so I come down Montgomery down the hill then I go down 12th,” Stanion said. “There’s a ton of construction on 12th, so we got goose-necked right by PSU. My mom said, ‘Well, you should probably run, because I don’t know how long this is going to take!’ I was running like 10 blocks, so I was almost late to school. It really sucked.”

Ann Kramer, who lives across the street from the site, doesn’t mind the construction because she believes the building will have a positive effect on the neighborhood.

“I think what [the building] is going to do, which will help the businesses [to the west] is help them connect to the main part of town,” Kramer said. “I think it’s going to help all those restaurants down there. It ties the neighborhood together. This street has been a dividing line.”

Because of its close proximity to the Portland State University campus, many residents of Sky3 Place will likely be students. Building plans include retail shops and a café.

“It’s a high-rise rental and I think the developers want a restaurant here on the corner,” Kramer said. “[I heard talk] of a restaurant, a bakery and a coffee shop. Whether it’s going to materialize to that, I don’t know.”

To build these apartments, contractors demolished an old building originally called the Cordova Hotel and Annex. Kramer did not have a high opinion of it.

“I think [the new building] is going to be a real asset to the neighborhood,” Kramer said. “Because this was an old, derelict abandoned building. It was hideous. It had been here for years, since the 1920s. They knocked that thing down and then started to build this.”

According to Taylor Busby, a construction worker at the site, the building won’t be complete anytime soon.

“I’d say [it’ll be complete] maybe by the end of this year or next year,” Busby said. “It’s definitely going to take a while because we’ve got a lot of stuff to do. We’re still getting the first part done.”

According to the Portland traffic advisory, the closure on Jefferson Street began at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9 and ended at approximately 6 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 12.

Sky3 Place will reportedly be 15 stories high with 196 residential units.

Kramer believes that Absher, the construction company, has done a great job.

“It’s been fascinating to watch you fellas work,” Kramer said to a construction worker. “You are just real pros. I mean, it’s wonderful–from [my apartment] I have that bird’s eye view–and everybody just is hustling every minute. They’re not littering. You know, at most construction sites you get all these soft drinks, cans and cigarette butts. I have just decided that Absher is a real class act.”

Photo Credit: Miroslav Petrasko

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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