The University of Oregon’s new home in Portland will be more than 50 percent bigger than initially planned when it opens next month in Old Town, with room for a larger library and more law and architecture courses.
The landmark neon of the White Stag sign continues to blink on and off over the Burnside Bridge, while major changes take place in the buildings below. When the University of Oregon and other tenants move in, in February 2008, the completed development will be a showcase for green design.
While shiny high-rise developments in the Pearl and South Waterfront have hogged headlines, the most important urban renewal project in recent Portland history has attracted little attention: The renovation of the White Stag Block and the surrounding buildings in Old Town is changing the face of the troubled neighborhood and landing the city a top-notch grad school.
With prodding from Portland’s urban-renewal agency, the Portland Development Commission, developers have seen beyond Old Town’s stigma of crime and urban decay. The result, all sides hope, will be that rare big-city neighborhood that the poor, middle-income and rich call home. Moving in to Old Town is the University of Oregon and Mercy Corps who got the city’s OK to move its headquarters and learning center into the neighborhood.
For new construction projects, getting the necessary funding generally takes a couple of months. But developer Venerable Properties spent the better part of last year taking the necessary steps to round up the dough to redevelop the White Stag Block.
For Venerable Group, Inc, which is renovating three buildings that constitute the White Stag Block, the exhaustive effort to create a new Portland home for the University of Oregon is no exception.
Portland has lost many of its cast-iron buildings, a style very popular here in late 19th century. Venerable has restored and recast many of the broken and missing cast-iron pieces and installed them on the Bickel Building, part of the White Stag Block in Old Town.
The White Stag development that could reverse Old Town’s downtrodden climate is, financially, all set to go.
Hundreds of people crowded into the ground floor of the White Stag Block in Old Town last Friday to celebrate the University of Oregon’s plan to consolidate and expand its local programs there.
The former nerve center of the Naito family merchandising and real estate empire changed hands last week on its way to becoming a $30 million University of Oregon complex in Portland.