Milwaukie approves proposal to demolish downtown buildings for parking lot

Milwaukie approves proposal to demolish downtown buildings for parking lot


A Google Street View image of the building that
could be destroyed.

Here’s an odd story forwarded to us this afternoon by reader Tim D.

According to Pamplin Media, a downtown Milwaukie business that already has a parking lot has gotten permission to demolish a row of sidewalk-facing shops on its small commercial Main Street in order to build a parking lot.

The property owner, regional credit firm Reliable Credit, doesn’t seem to have immediate plans to destroy the row of buildings at 10605 SE Main Street, which county records value at $180,000. Instead, the firm’s owner is apparently acting to ensure the company has the right to do so in the future.

Pamplin notes that a new land use code that would block such demolitions, called “Moving Milwaukie Forward,” is about to take effect. Because Reliable Credit secured the rights to demolish the site before the rule takes effect, it’ll have the option to do so in the future.

Here’s more from reporter Raymond Rendleman:

The proposal has people scratching their heads since both Reliable Credit employees and downtown shoppers rarely have trouble finding parking. Many downtown business owners would like to see Milwaukie turn more into a vibrant shopping district such as Hawthorne Boulevard where parking issues take a backseat to higher density urban development and the commercial success that comes with it.

Wendy Wagner was among the many local residents who were “sickened” to learn of the company’s plan that passed a review of the Planning Commission last month. After living in Southeast Portland for 12 years, she said she would have never moved two years ago if she hadn’t seen downtown Milwaukie as charming and pedestrian-friendly.

“If I wanted to look at another ugly parking lot, I would have moved to Beaverton or Gresham — or even filthy, stinky 82nd Avenue,” Wagner wrote in an open letter to city officials. “I hope there’s a way to keep our town from turning into just another faceless, repellent suburb. Perhaps Reliable Credit should take a page from so many local businesses: encourage their employees to take the region’s world-class mass transit. After all, they’re going to be sitting on top of the brand new MAX line.”

A former state representative who lives in the area described the buildings as housing “a successful coffee shop and restaurant.”

Until the new development rules take effect, Reliable Credit has every legal right to do what it wants on its property. Situations like this one are, presumably, the reason Milwaukie is choosing to tighten its development rules in the first place.

But it’s hard to think of any better illustration of the tradeoffs neighborhoods face between finding enough space to store cars wherever we go, and building places that people actually want to go to.

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