$195M Portland Building renovation OK’d

Portland Building designed by Michael Graves, completed in 1982

The Portland Building, with Portlandia above the door, Dec. 30, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — The City Council unanimously approved renovating the Portland Building for no more than $195 million on Wednesday.

Many questions remain to be answered about the renovation project, including whether all of the city’s 1,300 or so employees who work in the building will be moved out at the same time or in stages — and where they will go until the project is completed in 2020.

This story originally appeared on The Portland Tribune, a media partner with KOIN

Some may be surprised to learn the real Portlandia is one of the city's greatest symbols, May 11, 2015. (KOIN 6 News)
Some may be surprised to learn the real Portlandia is one of the city’s greatest symbols, May 11, 2015. (KOIN 6 News)

The 15-story primary city office building is not up to current earthquake standards and has been plagued by construction-related problems for years, including persistent water leaks. An analysis conducted by the Office of Management and Finance concluded that renovating the building was the least expensive alternative. Tearing it down for a replacement building or building a new building elsewhere would cost more, the analysis concluded.

“Building a new building would be more expensive than repairing this one,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, who introduced the resolution authorizing OMF to move forward with the project.

The decision avoid a debate over whether to demolish a building that many consider an eyesore. Designed as the first major post-modern building in American by architect Michael Graves and completed in 1982 for $25 million, it is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

“Building a new building would be more expensive than repairing this one”

The project will by financed by a 5 percent General Fund appropriation and 20 year city bonds repaid by rents paid by the bureaus that reoccupy the building. The rents over current levels to support the bonds.

The council also approved two related measures Wednesday. One would equalize rents paid by city agencies in city-owned buildings and the other would dedicate 1 percent of the project costs to benefit community organizations. Those allocations will be determined later by the council.

A close-up of Portlandia on the Porland Building in downtown, Dec. 30, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A close-up of Portlandia on the Porland Building in downtown, Dec. 30, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

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