Portland Could Be Getting a Major New Music Venue

Concert promoter Monqui has submitted proposals for a 3,000-capacity club in the Northwest Industrial District.

The site of Monqui's proposed 3,000-capacity music venue. IMAGE: Courtesy of Google Street View.

Portland might soon be getting a new large-scale music venue.

Documents show that homegrown entertainment company Monqui Presents is seeking to build a 3,000-capacity concert venue where a couple of aging warehouses sit in industrially-zoned Northwest Portland, across the street from Montgomery Park.

Representatives from Monqui declined to comment, saying only that "it's too early in the game." But staff from Monqui and its developer, Langley Investment Properties, met with two Northwest Portland neighborhood associations in recent months to share plans.

Minutes from the Northwest District Neighborhood Association meeting in December show Monqui will use the new space as "creative offices, a music venue and music production."

The preliminary architectural plans for the new development, submitted by LRS Architects, reveal a two-story structure with a mezzanine.

The scale is significant. The development covers a full half-block, between NW 26th and 27th and Vaughn and Wilson. At 3,000 capacity, the new venue would be comparable in size to the more formal, seated Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Keller Auditorium, and about twice the size of the Roseland Theater and Crystal Ballroom.

"I think it's exciting, because they're going to be able to bring shows that otherwise wouldn't be accessible to Portlanders," says Doug Appling, also known as electronic music producer Emancipator. "I don't know if it will lead to more growth, like, 'If you build it, they will come.' As a music fan, hopefully it will bring maybe some larger acts that might normally skip over Portland on their tours."

Currently in the city's land use review process, the project faces hurdles.

The proposed use of the site, classified as "retail" under city zoning laws, isn't allowed under its current industrial and mixed-employment zoning codes. The city's new comprehensive plan, however, will soften those restrictions in January 2018, says Jean Hester of the Portland Bureau of Development Services.

"They are trying to legalize what they want to do ahead of that date," Hester says. "The only way to do that is to actually go through this quasi-judicial zone change."

Traffic and parking is another concern. Monqui brought a traffic engineer to its December meeting with the NWDA, minutes from that meeting show. They note that "1,500 parking spaces [are] under contract with Montgomery Park."

The site of the proposed venue is currently occupied by musician rehearsal spaces, plus some cabinet makers and a construction company. At the neighborhood meetings, Monqui and Langley "pledged to have part of their improvements to the facility include soundproofing," says Harold Hutchinson of the Northwest Industrial Neighborhood Association.

Much remains to be done before the thing gets built, Hutchinson adds.

"It doesn't impact just our neighborhood," he says. "It would impact the Northwest District as well."

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