New design for Broadway Furniture project
Langley Development had their second Design Advisory (a voluntary and informal discussion in advance of a formal application) with the Portland Design Commission last month over their plans for the Broadway Furniture block. Their first discussion occurred in August, and there were significant changes.
Langley still plans to build a six-story building on the block bounded by Northeast Broadway and Weidler Street, Second and Third avenues. They still plan to have 99 residential units. Last year a major concern for both city and community leaders was the fate of two vintage homes converted to commercial use in the southwest corner of the property. Eliot Neighborhood Association land use chair Mike Warwick, among others, urged Langley to try to move the houses if at all possible.
Current plans call for the houses to stand, and for the project to be built around them. The new plans also reduce the amount of ground floor retail space from about 16,000 square feet to 14,000, reduce second floor office space from 29,000 square feet to 21,000, and reduce off-street parking from 126 spaces to 88. Perhaps most significantly, Langley proposes to place 18 of these spaces in a surface lot. Project team members indicated that the reduced amount of underground parking was an attempt to cut the project’s cost.
The surface parking distressed members of the Commission, who said it went directly against the goals of the Lloyd District. “This totally degrades the street presence of the building and the entire project,” Commission member Ben Kaiser said. “You’re giving your courtyard and garden up for a place for people to wait in their cars? It’s a bad decision.”
Commission member David Wark added, “Before, this had an urban skin, and now it feels suburban.”
Langley is also asking for a code modification to reduce the amount of landscaped screening for the lot. Commission member Jane Hanson told the team, “You’re asking for a lot of modifications and you’re not offering many amenities.”
Commission chair Gwen Millius was unhappy with the length of a cuing lane for the drive-through window of a credit union, an important anchor tenant. Project team members said the length of the stacking lane is prescribed by the zoning code, but Millius countered, “There’s no way there’s 80 feet of stacking at my credit union.”
Despite the criticism of the design details, Commission members said they felt the overall project was a worthy and needed addition to the area. “These guys are urban pioneers, and we want to support them,” Wark said.