On November 13, 2015 Restore Oregon presented the DeMuro Awards to seven extraordinary historic rehabilitation projects. The award is named in honor of Art DeMuro whose redevelopment of historic properties such as the White Stag Block set the standard for quality, creativity, persistence, and business acumen. This is the third in our series of posts about these projects.
The Erickson Saloon and Fritz Hotel stand in Portland’s Skidmore Old Town National Landmark District. Constructed in 1912 and standing back-to-back, both have legendary, colorful histories. The Erickson Saloon was said to offer 684 feet of bar space, cabaret dancers, free lunches (with beer purchase), and small rooms upstairs for a more private type of entertainment.
Before the buildings were acquired by Innovative Housing Inc., most of the interior space was vacant, many historic features had been lost, and the facades were deteriorating. The $15M project included a full exterior restoration, adaptive reuse as low income and market-rate housing, and a seismic upgrade of both buildings.
This vibrant, mixed-income community now offers 62 unique studio and one bedroom apartments, two large community spaces, and history-inspired artwork. Design highlights include a large interior courtyard that serves to seismically reinforce the building while providing natural light and ventilation. It also includes an art installation constructed of whiskey barrels as an homage to its roots.
The Erickson community room includes many nods to past patrons, and neighborhood gatherings will bring the public in once again. Some will notice a curious trough in the floor, reportedly there to “relieve” clientele back in the day. It’s now covered with Plexiglas.
In 2013 Restore Oregon listed the Skidmore Old Town district as a Most Endangered Place. Certainly this corner of the district is endangered no longer. The Erickson-Fritz project generated 50 jobs for 12 months, and increased the property value, from $2.2 Million to over $10 Million today.
For creating affordable, mixed-income housing in a town that sorely needs it, while restoring two of the most colorful, but long-neglected buildings in a Landmark district, and thoroughly infusing the stories of the place in the process, we were thrilled to present the DeMuro Award to the Erickson Fritz Apartments.