Portland has seen incredible growth in the last few years, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Portland building demolition crews have been very busy taking down older buildings to make way for new development across the city. As your Oregon demolition contractors, we continue to follow the Portland demolition/development boom.
Before looking at a few jaw-dropping facts about Portland demolition, let’s take a moment to examine the City’s permitting procedure.
Portland, Oregon’s Demolition Permitting Process
The City of Portland requires developers to provide a 35-day notice for residential demolition projects. This is intended to provide neighbors with time to learn about and prepare for the demolition process. However, two workarounds allow contractors to avoid this 35-day notice. First, if developers apply and pay for the building permit and the demolition permit simultaneously, the 35-day notice is waived. This approach has gained popularity; as The Oregonian reported, demolitions requiring a permit decreased 70% between 2007 and 2013. Second, demolition permits are only required if the entire superstructure is removed. Some developers are avoiding giving notice by qualifying projects as major alterations, rather than demolitions. No demolition notice is required for major alterations. To be defined as a major alteration the project must leave one full exterior wall standing.
While neighbors may say the orange demolition notice signs are needed to allow nearby homeowners time, developers point out that the highly visible signs practically advertise homes as vacant, attracting crime. The official line from the Portland development bureau is that the 35-day notice was originally added to city code in 1988 to prevent backlogs of vacant properties from accumulating. The waiver allowing quick construction if the permit and demolition simultaneously permitted was passed in 1990 to allow developers to move forward without delay.
Facts and Figures about Portland’s Demolition Wave
- In 2013, between 200 and 300 single-family demolitions occurred, according to the NW Examiner.• Portland Chronicle tracks and reports Portland demolition projects on a weekly basis. The site’s map of demolition permits issued since January 1, 2015 shows hundreds of projects, with demolition density appearing greatest in north and northeast Portland.• In 2013, about 2,700 alteration and addition permits were issued, an increase of 24% over 2011.• New homes replacing demolished structures have increased. Between 1996 and 2011, the averaged demolished single-dwelling structure in Portland was 1,119 square feet, while the average new house was 2,275 square feet in size, according to the City of Portland.• Homes built between 1912 and 1964 are likely to be demolished. For single-family dwellings demolished between 1996 and 2011, the City reports:
–429 demolitions of homes built between 1864 and 1911
–658 demolitions of homes built between 1912 and 1937
–698 demolitions of homes built between 1938 and 1964
–51 demolitions of homes built between 1965 and 2011.
- Single-family dwellings are often developed into multi-family residences. According to a demolition data sheet published by the City’s Bureau of Planning and Stability, of the 262 homes replaced with redevelopment in 2013:
–47% were redeveloped into single family homes
–44% were redeveloped into two houses or more
–9% were redeveloped into multi-dwelling properties or commercial projects.
Portland’s continued popularity makes it unlikely that the demolition wave will end any time soon. Overall, the city’s population has increased over 12% since 2000, according to the Portland Business Journal. Metro predicts that the city will continue to attract newcomers, with 725,000 new residents in the seven-county Portland area by 2035. Those new Portlanders will need new housing, and demolition of older homes will continue to make way for new projects.
[Photo by Allie_Caufield via CC License]