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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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About the Multnomah County Central Courthouse Project

Multnomah County is proposing to construct a new County Central Courthouse in Portland’s Central Business District near the Hawthorne Bridgehead. The site selected for the proposed facility is Block 8, Portland, bounded by SW 1st Avenue and Naito Parkway, between SW Jefferson and Madison Streets within the Downtown Subdistrict of the Central City.

Construction of the replacement Multnomah County Central Courthouse (MCCCH) is a high priority project for the County and State. As the demand for justice services in Multnomah County increases, the need to replace existing, inefficient and under-sized facilities at 1021 SW 4th Avenue is urgent.

The planned site for the MCCCH is subject to maximum height and floor area ratio (FAR) provisions contained in Chapter 510, Central City Plan District of the Portland Zoning Code. The existing maximum base floor area ratio (FAR) is 9:1, with the potential bonus FAR of 3:1 through the use of various bonus and/or transfer options. The existing maximum height on the site is 200 feet (Map 510-3).

To accommodate all the MCCCH functions, the building will require up to an estimated 460,000 square feet. The landmark Jefferson Substation is located on the southwest corner of Block 8 and will be retained and incorporated into the courthouse design and programming. This building is on the National Register of Historic Places, so floors cannot be added without impairing its historic character. The new Courthouse building, a 17-floor tower, and standard floor-to-ceiling heights of 18 feet, will form an “L” shape around Jefferson Substation and will need up to 325’ in height to accommodate the full space needs for the Courthouse.

Therefore, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is proposing to raise the height allowance on Block 8 to a maximum of 325 feet.

Read the Proposed Draft of Multnomah County Central Courthouse Project

The West Quadrant Plan (BPS, 2015) and the Central City Concept Plan (BPS, 2012) identify the area at the west approach to the Hawthorne Bridge for additional height in future planning efforts. The Central City 2035 Plan (currently out for public review) will likely implement these recommendations; however, the effective date of this implementation is too late for the MCCCH project, which must be under construction by the first quarter of 2017 to meet the requirements for State funding. 

Testify in person
City Council Public Hearing
Multnomah County Central Courthouse Project
Thursday, May 26, 2016, 4:00 p.m.
City Hall
1221 SW 4th Avenue, Council Chambers

Check the City Council website to confirm date, time and location of public hearings. 

Testify in writing
ATTN: Multnomah County Central Courthouse Project
City Council Clerk
1221 SW 4th Ave 
Portland, OR 97201

For more information 
Troy Doss
Senior Planner