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City Council Adopts New Chinatown/Japantown Design Guidelines

New design approval criteria will honor the ethnic and architectural significance of one of Portland’s most unique historic districts.

Portland City Council voted 4-0 on September 28, 2017, to adopt the new ImageChinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines as approval criteria for additions, alterations and new construction projects in Portland’s only designated historic district significant for ethnic history. Although the district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, City staff and the Historic Landmarks Commission have since relied on general Central City approval criteria to review rehabilitation and infill projects in the district. With the adoption of district-specific design approval criteria, applicants, staff and the interested public will now have greater clarity on how alteration, addition and new construction projects can authentically honor New Chinatown/Japantown’s ethnic and architectural history. The new guidelines become effective on October 28, 2017.

The design guidelines were developed over the past 18 months by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Prosper Portland, a 10-member stakeholder advisory committee and the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission. Special thanks are owed to those who volunteered on the project’s stakeholder advisory committee:

  • Jackie Peterson—Old Town Chinatown Community Association 
  • Joren Bass—Urban Development + Partners
  • Katherine Schultz—Guardian Real Estate Services 
  • Will Naito—Naito Development LLC
  • Brian Kimura—Nikkei Legacy Center
  • Neil Lee—Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
  • Hermann Colas—Colas Construction
  • Hillary Adam—Bureau of Development Services
  • Peggy Moretti—Restore Oregon
  • Matthew Roman—Portland Historic Landmarks Commission

The final, adopted design guidelines can be downloaded from the Design Guidelines Library.

New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines Headed to City Council September 14

If adopted, the guidelines will serve as approval criteria for addition, alteration and new construction projects in Portland’s 10-block New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District.

The Portland City Council will hold a public hearing on the possible adoption of the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines at 2:00 p.m. on September 14. At this hearing, the Council wiImagell consider the adoption of draft historic district design guidelines recommended by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission earlier this year. If adopted, the guidelines will serve as approval criteria for addition, alteration and new construction projects in Portland’s 10-block New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District.

Developed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Prosper Portland, a 10-member stakeholder advisory committee and the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission, the recommended design guidelines celebrate the cultural and ethnic history of New Chinatown/Japantown by providing clear direction to design teams working within the historic district. Specific guidelines range from requiring the use of durable, high-quality materials and finishes to the integration of horizontally-oriented balconies on buildings new and old. 

The full draft recommended design guidelines are available for download.

How to Provide Testimony

The Portland City Council will consider the Recommended Draft New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines at a public hearing on September 14, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, located at 1221 SW 4th Avenue. Additional hearings may be scheduled, and Council maImagey hear testimony on elements of the related Central City 2035 Plan prior to the design guidelines being heard. Please confirm dates and times by checking the City Council calendar one week in advance.

In addition to attending a hearing, there are several other ways to provide testimony to the Portland City Council:

Email: brandon.spencer@portlandoregon.gov. Include “Historic District Design Guidelines Testimony” in the subject line and include your full name and mailing address.

By U.S. Mail: Brandon Spencer-Hartle, 1900 SW Fourth Ave., Suite 7100, Portland OR, 97201. Attn: Historic District Design Guidelines Testimony.

 

Project Background

ImageThe New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District is bound by NW Glisan Street to the north, NW 3rd Avenue on the east, West Burnside Street to the south, and NW 5th Avenue to the west. Primary architectural styles include Italianate, 20th Century Commercial, and Moderne. The 10-block historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 because of the area’s significance in Chinese and Japanese culture, commerce and architecture during the 1880 to 1943 period. The historic district design guidelines were developed to replace the more general River District Design Guidelines as approval criteria for alteration, addition and new construction projects in the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District. 

Proposed Draft New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines available for review

Review and testify on the Proposed Draft Design Guidelines

Sketch of Demolished Hop Sing Tong BuildingPortland’s New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District is getting some well-deserved attention with the development of district-specific design guidelines. Developed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Portland Development Commission, with input from stakeholders and the community, the new approval criteria will guide building alterations and new construction in the district, while preserving and showcasing its unique, multi-ethnic history. The guidelines address various exterior and façade elements, from signs and awnings to the desired characteristics of new construction and additions to existing buildings.

On August 1, 2016, the Proposed Draft of the guidelines was released for public review and comment.

Provide Testimony

The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission will consider the Proposed Draft New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines and hold public hearings on September 12 and September 26, 2016. Testimony will be accepted at both hearings.

In addition to attending a hearing, there are several other ways to provide testimony to the Landmarks Commission on the Proposed Draft:

  • Email: brandon.spencer@portlandoregon.gov. Include “Historic District Design Guidelines Testimony” in the subject line and include your full name and mailing address.
  • By U.S. Mail: Brandon Spencer-Hartle, 1900 SW Fourth Ave., Suite 7100, Portland OR, 97201. Attn: Historic District Design Guidelines Testimony.

Public Process and Next Steps

Hung Far Low Sign

The Proposed Draft Design Guidelines were developed with input from a stakeholder advisory committee, formed to provide recommendations to the project team based on their knowledge and expertise related to land use, architecture, history, property development, and familiarity with the historic district. Testimony will be received by the Historic Landmarks Commission as they refine the Proposed Draft into a Recommended Draft for consideration and adoption by the City Council. Once in place, the design guidelines will be used as approval criteria during historic resource review of both new construction and exterior alterations/additions to existing buildings.

Background

The New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District is bound by NW Glisan Street to the north, NW 3rd Avenue on the east, West Burnside Street to the south, and NW 5th Avenue to the west. Primary architectural styles include Italianate, 20th Century Commercial, and Moderne. This 10-block historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 because of the area’s significant history and heritage of Asian culture, industry, commerce and architecture.

The project team values and encourages input from the community about this project. For more information, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/70480