in the works (update)

Rendering of Block 75 project at MLK and Couch St. looking West (Works Partnership)

As described here, the Works Partnership designed Block 75 mixed-use project is moving along in the city’s design review, but still needs permission from ODOT and PBOT to expand its footprint into a ROW easement that is no longer used. When the city rebuilt Burnside and Couch for the couplet project they removed the wide right turn radius from MLK to Couch, and the sidewalks are aligned to the now square intersection. The developers want to build up to the new street grid (which the city would actually prefer), but have to get a variance from PBOT, as the vacated ROW belongs to them and the encroachment of underground parking and oriel windows juts into the existing street. If a variance is accepted, the development team must also secure permission from the city design review for the proposed oriels, as the windows are definitely non-standard, which give the project its unique appearance as seen in the renderings above and below. So the project has to juggle permission from the city design review, PBOT for the vacated ROW, and ODOT due to MLK being a state highway.

Block 75 rendering from the NE looking SW (Works Partnership)

Block 75 rendering from the SE looking NW (Works Partnership)

The project also aims to greatly improve the existing street conditions. The curving Couch St. connection to the bridge has left a rather unfortunate stub street out of the remaining Couch ROW. The proposal includes rebuilding that stub into an angled NE Couch Court, a one way street leading directly to NE 3rd Avenue (see site plan below). The remaining ROW will be transformed into a small triangular public plaza strategically located at the building’s lobby entrance (see image above). Of course, these alterations to the Couch Street also have to be approved by PBOT.

Site Plan for Block 75 showing the ROW encroachment, the underground parking access ramp, and the street level active uses (Works Partnership)

As written about several times here and here, Block 75, along with the Dumbbell and Skylab’s Block 67, are going to dramatically change the ‘sense of place’ of the entire neighborhood (the scale of new development in the immediate area can be seen from the design review teams graphic below). Even the old RJ Templeton Building across the street from the Bridgehead has undergone a facelift after years of brutal neglect (bridge facing windows finally uncovered!).

Location of Block 75 in context of recent and proposed developments (City of Portland Staff Presentation)


3 responses to “in the works (update)

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