March 11th, 2011 | by BEN WATERHOUSE Arts & Books |

Eyesore of the Week: Phoenix on Foster

Phoenix building foster

This former pharmacy, built in 1922, is actually my favorite building on Southeast Foster Road. I love the elegant curve of the facade and the detailed brickwork on the second story. But for a very long time, since before I first saw it, the storefront has been wrapped in hideous fencing and left to molder. Many of the windows are broken, and the lathe and plaster walls inside appear to be crumbling.

The owners of record are Robin and Joanne Lashbaugh, although The Oregonian reported in 2009 that Robert Froman, of Buck's Stove Palace, owns the building and has plans to turn it into a museum of antique stoves (Froman applied for a remodeling permit in 2002). He seems to have given up that dream, though; a banner hung on the side of the building in June advertises a price of $600,000, although it is not listed on the Regional Multiple Listing Service.

It is probably futile to hope that the building will ever be restored. The city of Portland considers the building unsafe, meaning the fire department will not enter the building in the event of fire. (The upstairs was home to unpermited apartments until the late '90s, according to city records—a terrifying prospect.) The cost of making the unreinforced masonry structure earthquake-safe alone is probably enough to deter investors. But still—look at those lines! And all that light! If the McMenamins are looking for a project to follow up the Crystal Hotel, they could do worse than saving this neglected gem.

Is there an eyesore in your neighborhood? Send your suggestions to me at bwaterhouse@wweek.com. Photos are appreciated.

 
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