- Development cost: $9.5 million
- Completion date: April, 2005
- VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
The 1922 structure, originally built to house the Portland Evening Telegram newspaper, was frozen in time for years attracting few tenants due to its deteriorating condition. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1990s, After nearly a decade of failed attempts are redevelopment, Venerable was invited to rehabilitate the 33,000 square foot signature property as a last attempt by the owners to avoid demolition.
The project, completed in 2005, has received numerous awards including the 2004 Oregon Downtown Development Association Award and was a finalist in the National 2005 Timothy Anderson Award for Excellence in Historic Rehabilitation for the Most Innovative Adaptive Re-Use, presented by the National Housing and Rehabilitation Association.
The façade was restored to its original Georgian Revival style. The brick building was seismically reinforced. The distinctive 48 ft clock tower was made operational for the first time in many years and its dome restored to the original copper finish. An additional penthouse floor was added to the three-story building, designed to sit 20 feet back from the parapets to preserve the building’s original character. Inside, the timbers were recycled and used as trim and smaller elements and the large timbers were sold for reuse in other projects. The historic wood and ironwork staircase on the ground floor was preserved. The original entrance with the portico now serves the first floor tenant and a new entrance was built on 11th Avenue with a showcase two-story lobby and grand stair. All the historic windows were preserved and translucent art glass was placed in front of the existing light well panels to allow natural light in but maintain privacy between the Telegram and its neighboring building. The basement, originally used to house the newspaper’s printing presses, was re-engineered into a two-story underground parking structure.
Redeveloping historic buildings often requires additional hurdles with public agencies. For example, the Telegram Building’s listing in the National Register required submitting additional documentation when Venerable purposed adding a new floor to the historic structure. The National Park Service (NPS) required that the new floor be designed to be as invisible as possible and compatible with the existing building. The addition could not be visible from a sightline from the sidewalks of both Washington Street and 11th Avenue. However, across from the building on both streets were vacant lots. NPS “redefined” sight line requirements and required invisibility from the furthest point of the vacant lots. So, the anticipated 13 ft setback elongated to 20 ft. Venerable revised plans and accommodated the increased setback.
Historic and New Markets tax credit equity was critical to the viability of the project. Partnering with the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, the Telegram project was the first to utilize “twinned” Historic and New Markets tax credits.
This project was pivotal in bridging West End development and anchoring this emerging neighborhood, creating momentum for surrounding properties.