By Doug Decker | Historian
I’ve been watching two commercial corners just a few blocks apart that share similar histories but are on very different pathways to the future. They pose a question worth pondering: what do we want our neighborhood to feel like in the future?
The old Logan Grocery structure at 33rd Avenue and Alberta Street, built in 1910, is slated for demolition to be replaced by a three-story, 19-unit, short-term Airbnb hotel.
Meanwhile, a few blocks over, at the northeast corner of 30th Avenue and Emerson Street, a similar but very different story is unfolding.
Here, a 107-year-old wood-frame, mixed-use, commercial building that was once also a grocery store is being restored and re-purposed for a medical practice and neighborhood coffee shop.
Both buildings – and most 100-year-old-plus buildings – have foundations that need work. For the Logan Grocery building, it was a deal breaker, and the owner chose to start over through demolition.
At 30th and Emerson, with similar infrastructure, the owner chose to renovate. That work begins with major foundation and structural work and then completely renovating the interior and using the existing exterior building envelope.
That offers a contrast between old and new while staying at the same scale as the surrounding neighborhood. The clinic and a new coffee shop are to occupy the first floor. Glass roll-up garage doors in the coffee shop on the north face of the building are planned to open onto an open outdoor patio. Upstairs are apartments, much like the old days.
Our neighborhood continues to wrestle with growth, density, affordability, traffic and many other pressures and needs. I hope we can bring a memory, an appreciation and a sense of our past forward with us to help create a better future.
This will be my last piece as your “Ask the historian” columnist. Thanks for caring about Concordia history. It’s been a fun and enlightening five years. I step aside from CNews to make room for continued teaching, research and scholarship about our collective public history. I invite you to follow my continuing northeast Portland early history explorations on my blog AlamedaHistory.org, where I’m always available to respond to inquiries and observations about our past.
Doug Decker initiated his blog AlamedaHistory.org in 2007 to collect and share knowledge about the life of old houses, buildings and neighborhoods in northeast Portland. His basic notion is that insight to the past adds new meaning to the present.