Workers, grandparents get items from 5th Ave Building

Scaffolding being put up before building will be cleared for people

Workers at the 5th Avenue Building were allowed to go inside and collect personal items, one day after there was fear it might collapse. The building is structurally sound, April 12, 2017 (KOIN)
Workers at the 5th Avenue Building were allowed to go inside and collect personal items, one day after there was fear it might collapse. The building is structurally sound, April 12, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If there’s no structural damage to the 5th Avenue Building in downtown Portland, why aren’t people being allowed to work inside?

One day after the building was evacuated — a building that houses OHSU, eBay, 24 Hour Fitness and a KinderCare — workers were allowed in briefly to remove their belongings. City and building inspectors were again on site, overseeing the move. The concern is there may be some other parts of the building that are subject to similar cracking and buckling on the east facade.

Mr. Miles and his grandson outside the KinderCare at the 5th Avenue Building in downtown Portland, April 12, 2017 (KOIN)
Mr. Miles and his grandson outside the KinderCare at the 5th Avenue Building in downtown Portland, April 12, 2017 (KOIN)

It wasn’t just workers removing items. Mary Miles, whose grandson goes to KinderCare, said she “came down today to pick up the jackets and extra clothing, things that each child has in his bin.”

City officials told KOIN 6 News they don’t yet know the reason for the crack in the facade around the 2nd and 3rd floors on the outside of the building. The property managers, the Melvin Mark Companies, were asked to bring in their own structural engineers to complete an assessment.

In the meantime, city officials are making sure safety precautions are taken.

Inspectors walk outside the 24 Hour Fitness, part of the 5th Avenue Building that was evacuated the day before over a fear of collapse, April 12, 2017 (KOIN)
Inspectors walk outside the 24 Hour Fitness, part of the 5th Avenue Building that was evacuated the day before over a fear of collapse, April 12, 2017 (KOIN)

“Today we had a scaffolding company come in and meet with us about the safety requirements,” said Ross Caron with the Portland Bureau of Development Services. Scaffolding “needs to be in place until the engineering report is done, until we’ve evaluated it and approved it and they’ve taken steps to fix and make safe the facade on the east side.”

Dan Douthit with the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management said this incident was a wake-up call.

“We need to be more prepared as a city for when the next quake happens,” he told KOIN 6 News. “We do know that we have well over 1000 unreinforced masonry buildings and those structures, we know, are unsafe in an earthquake.”

Douthit said not all the brick buildings are reinforced, either.

Built in 1951, the 5th Avenue Building is 10 stories tall covering about 188,000 square feet.