Am I missing something in this article? Why exactly is the project stalled? Why go so far (can't be cheap) to have cast-iron pieces reconstructed but then say that the neighborhood "isn't ready" for it yet? And how can the renovation be a catalyst for redevelopment if it can't happen until more of the parking lots are filled in?
Weirdly enough, I rode by this building today before seeing this article, and took some shots of it. They're below the article.
Also, note that the misguided plan to slap old pieces of cast iron on modern (but surely faux historic in style) buildings is still very much alive.
First cast-iron restoration project could spur more redevelopment in Old Town
POSTED: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 02:50 PM PT
BY: Lindsey O'Brien, DJC
Tags: Hallock and McMillan Building
Bill Larsell, a craftsman with Architectural Castings Inc., stands with one of four cast-iron columns he helped reproduce for the Hallock and McMillan Building in Portland's Old Town neighborhood. (Photo by Sam Tenney/DJC)
In November, a small cross section of Portland’s building industry gathered in a dark, smoky foundry to witness a rare execution of modern cast-iron craftsmanship.
Workers at the Silverton Foundry recreated pieces of the cast-iron facade of Portland’s oldest building. According to several of the experts working on the restoration of the Hallock and McMillan Building, it was the first time in modern history that the process was used to cast large sections of a building’s facade entirely in iron. Though many preservationists consider the project an exciting step in the right direction, the restoration is stalled until the neighborhood is developed more fully.
At the foundry, cranes swooped overhead, bringing molten iron from a tall, cylindrical furnace to custom molds that were created based on historic photographs of the 155-year-old Hallock and McMillan Building. The firms carrying out the project – Emerick Architects, Architectural Castings Inc. and Bremik Construction – all sent representatives to the Silverton Foundry to witness the unique recreation of the historic facade.
“It seemed ancient as all get-out,” said architect and cast-iron expert Bill Hawkins, who was a consultant for the project. “(The building) will once again look as it did when its architects designed and built it.”
After housing an electronics business for many years, the Hallock and McMillan Building was purchased in 2010 by John Russell, founder of Russell Development Co. He then assembled a group of experts to restore the building’s cast-iron facade with full-iron replicas.
“It’s a long process and you can’t hurry it,” Russell said. “You have to plan for six months of preparation work, but it’s absolutely worth it.”
Several experts needed nearly a year to design and prepare the molds. The Silverton Foundry then fashioned a series of cast-iron ornamental pieces and seven-foot columns to replace the originals, which were removed in the 1940s and then lost.
The casting process employed basically the same techniques that would have been used when the building was constructed in 1857, according to David Field, who owns the foundry with his brother George.
“It’s a craft that is pretty rare, and the knowledge of the foundry men is really, really critical,” said Dave Talbott, president of Architectural Castings Inc., a Portland firm that helped develop drawings and molds for the foundry. “It would be tough to do without the aggregate knowledge of these guys.”
Russell, who owns multiple cast-iron buildings in Portland’s Skidmore/Old Town Historic District, said he will not install the recently cast pieces on the Hallock and McMillan Building until the area is improved.
“The neighborhood is just not ready for it; there are too many empty parking lots,” he said.
However, this recent effort to restore the Hallock and McMillan Building, which is located at the corner of Southwest Naito Parkway and Oak Street, may influence future redevelopment of the area
“We need to rehabilitate the resources we have left and infill the missing pieces (of the district) that right now are surface parking lots,” said Peggy Moretti, executive director of the Historic Preservation League of Oregon. The HPLO recently listed the Skidmore/Old Town district on its 2012 list of Oregon’s most endangered places.
The Hallock and McMillan Building originally had the kind of showy, cast-iron frontage that defined Portland in its early days. But many of the building’s cast-iron neighbors have been torn down, and an unclear vision for the district has stalled redevelopment.
“The whole district is in a gridlock,” Moretti said. “Tackling that poor, pathetic-looking building represents what the district used to be and can be again.”
A new Skidmore/Old Town task force is gearing up to tackle some of the district’s ongoing development issues. But Hawkins and other preservationists have already made it clear that they hope that the city’s stockpile of salvaged cast iron will be used to rebuild the Skidmore/Old Town area. The same process used for the Hallock and McMillan project could be used to recast the missing pieces.
“I hope (the project) will trigger a little renaissance for our historic district,” Hawkins said. “If the area is going to be reborn, it should be done in iron.”
And, just across the street...