A 970-Foot Tower in the Pearl District? Not Likely

In the latest salvo on how tall Portland should build, local architecture firm calls for no height limits at the Post Office site.

USPS site rendering (William/Kaven)

In the latest salvo in the war over the skyline of Portland, a local architect today released a concept for the old U.S. Post Office site in the Pearl District that would include a tower 970 feet tall.

That's more than double the maximum height limit the City Council is currently weighing for the site—so the rendering represents more of a ploy to motivate elected officials than a serious proposition.

The concept, according to a press release by William / Kaven  and Kaven + Co., includes a "glass-enclosed botanical bridge" that would be 236 feet long and 680 feet up in the air.

"The city of Portland, currently, is devoid of iconic buildings—at least any that a tourist or foreign architect might recognize," wrote Daniel Kaven, a partner of the architecture firm, in an op-ed for the Daily Journal of Commerce. "It is easily established that great buildings drive tourism and generate money. Every year millions of people make trips to destination cities just to see towers, memorials, skyscrapers."

There are plenty of Portlanders who don't want to the skyline crowded with tall towers, especially close to the river.

But the architecture firm is not one of them.

"It would be an abomination to limit the 14 acres of the USPS site, in the heart of the city of Portland, to any height, thereby potentially missing the architectural opportunity of our lifetime," wrote Kaven.

Related: Sick of Portland changing? Too bad. Here are seven places where the city could go big.

The Post Office site is one of the most desired pieces of real estate in Portland.

Last year, Prosper Portland—the urban renewal agency—bought the site for $88 million. Having spent lavishly on the property, Prosper Portland is now looking to turn it into an apartment and retail center to match the Pearl.

Prosper Portland began the official process to seek a development partner at the Post Office site earlier this month.

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