By Doug Decker | Historian
The old green building at 33rd Avenue and Alberta Street says “Notice of 120-day delay for demolition.” That means the building is about to be torn down and replaced by condominiums.
Here’s the story: The 109-year-old grocery store building, built before both streets were paved, is slated for demolition and will be replaced by a three-story, mixed-use condominium and office building.
Developer Bob Bochsler of Box Real Estate Holdings in Portland expects demolition to take place in 2020 with construction to follow soon thereafter. Although drawings for the new structure are not yet complete, he envisions a building with a pitched roof and an inner courtyard facing Alberta. “I want to be in keeping with the Pacific Northwest style,” he said.
When the developer first approached the project, he said he wanted to consider ways to utilize the existing building. Adaptive reuse, however, was not cost effective, due to costs associated with reinforcing the foundation.
The property is ranked in the City of Portland Historic Resource Inventory, which recognizes its significance for potential historic register designation. However, because past owners never listed the property in the National Register of Historic Places, it may be torn down after a brief delay.
Operated from the 19-teens until the 1940s as Logan’s Grocery, the building cycled through multiple owners from the 1950s through the 1970s, known as Zwhalen’s Grocery and then as Romoli’s. From the late 1970s until recently, the building contained the studio and residence of noted Portland artist Jay Backstrand.
Concordian Bob Wilson, grandson of former storekeepers Anna and Earl Logan, has fond memories of the store from its heyday. In recent correspondence, Wilson shared these memories:
“When I was a small child, my grandparents lived in the house just south of the store. My grandmother would fix lunch every day for my grandfather Earl and bring it over to him.
“Earl was the storekeeper. Anna was the butcher for the store. As a small boy it was so much fun to be with my grandparents, and then to go over to their store and see all of the people who dropped by.”
I’m collecting memories and photos of the life of this old building and welcome hearing from any CNews readers who have a story or photo to share.
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.
Ask the historian is a CNews standing feature that encourages readers to ask questions about the history of the neighborhood and its buildings. Is there something you’ve wondered about? Drop a line to CNewsEditor@ ConcordiaPDX.org and ask Doug Decker to do some digging.