Portland Industrial Demolition Contractors Advise on Preserving Historical Homes

Portland residents can’t help but notice the growth occurring across our fair boroughs. From the construction of micro-apartments to the addition of new retail storefronts, there’s plenty of change in the Rose City these days. A drive down Division Street in southeast Portland says a lot about where our city is headed—toward density and increased population. Some have predicted that the Portland region’s population will double in upcoming decades, reaching 3.85 million by 2060. To accommodate for this growth, regional governments must balance new construction with preservation of Portland’s charming neighborhoods. Portland industrial demolition contractors can assist in this balance by helping to preserve historic homes.

Historic structures have been demolished in recent months to make way for new construction projects, which frustrates some Portlanders. For instance, Cathy Galbraith, executive director of the Architectural Heritage Center, recently wrote in an opinion article for the Oregonian that the outcome of demolition and new construction would be “the continuing loss of the qualities that make up a neighborhood’s character and its physical identity.” In the same piece, Galbraith points out that there have been at least 230 demolition permits in Portland this year.

Can demolition contractors contribute to a balanced approach to growth in Portland? We would say yes. Clearly, tearing down structures is the work of industrial demolition contractors. Portland can’t sustain healthy growth without tearing down some buildings to make way for new construction. Still, we believe there are certain steps demolition firms can take to help preserve historic edifices.

How Portland Industrial Demolition Contractors can Help Preserve Historic Structures

  • Take on retrofit and reuse projects which preserve homes’ basic structure. It is often possible to gut a home, leaving its historic shell intact while allowing modern upgrades to interiors.
  • Alert neighbors of all demolition work, even if not officially required by the city. The City of Portland defines demolition as the complete removal of a structure. So if even one wall is left standing, it’s not considered a demolition job and neighbors don’t have to be notified. This has angered many neighborhood activists. Demolition contractors can respect neighbors by alerting them of any demolition work, even if the whole structure won’t be removed.
  • Become well versed in deconstruction, in which homes are taken apart piece by piece, so that historic components can be preserved and reused in new projects.
  • Recycle as much as possible from demolition to minimize environmental impact. The eco-impacts of demolition are also high on most Portland residents’ list of priorities. Demolition companies can help keep Portland green by recycling as much as possible from demolition jobs.

To conclude, we’ll point out a potential program that could allow more time for officials to assess whether a building is worth preserving. Green Bay, Wisconsin is currently considering a proposal to require a fifteen-day waiting period before demolishing structures older than fifty years old. This waiting period would allow time for residents and contractors to voice opinions. Plus, it would also allot time for city officials to research the historic value of a building slated for demolition. Perhaps a similar waiting period in Portland could smooth divides between contractors and Portlanders, making the region’s growth more respectful of all involved.

[Photo by: Don Hankins on Flickr via CC License]

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