Author Archives: Kate Kearney

union-station-pmapdx-historic-photo

Union Station Historic Renovation

Union Station is a historic and recognizable landmark within the City of Portland. PMA is part of an interdisciplinary team responsible for the revitalization and restoration of the buildings, platform, and tracks at Portland Union Station. The Renovation includes conditions assessments, visioning activities, related stakeholder outreach/coordination meetings, and other project teams A, B, and C coordination activities.

PMA is the lead Historic Architect responsible for the development of the vision for Union Station- including future programming/space utilization & exterior canopy design; identification of the central design issues and alternatives; and the assessment and documentation of existing building exterior / interior conditions.

Analyzing Historic Masonry Wall Performance

Wilmer-Davis Hall is a residential complex on the Washington State University (WSU) Pullman campus. Built in 1937 by Architect Stanly Smith, with John Maloney, the six-story structure is composed of masonry and concrete with a masonry/brick veneer in the classical and Georgian Revival architectural styles. For a recent feasibility study of the complex, PMA provided an exterior assessment and a limited moisture study utilizing Wärme Und Feuchte Instationär (WUFI), an industry standard application in predicting wall performance to determine how additional insulation may impact the existing constructions and wall performance.

The primary concerns of this analysis included increased potential for freeze thaw action and increased mold growth as a result of added insulation. When historic buildings are insulated the insulation is typically added to the interior of the structure to prevent alterations to the exterior appearance. This often causes the outer layers of the wall to be both colder and wetter as the materials are no longer warmed and dried by the interior heating system. The additional water and more extreme temperatures can result in an increase in freeze thaw action, corrosion of metal reinforcement, and/or increased mold growth.

Additionally adding insulation to a wall changes the location of the dew point within that construction (the point at which vapor in the air condenses into water). A dew point within the middle of the wall can also result in increased moisture within the wall cavity. If a wall has difficulties drying due to any of the above causes it is possible that over the course of several years the quantity of water within the wall will consistently increase. Accumulation of water will exacerbate reinforcement corrosion and mold growth and can result in increased freeze thaw action. This study focused on the following metrics to analyze proposed wall performance: quantity of water in the assembly, quantity of water in each material layer, relative humidity in layers susceptible to mold growth, and isopleths.

MODEL SETUP
As in any simulation analysis a number of assumptions were made regarding the existing wall construction and the proposed design conditions. A variety of different conditions were analyzed in order to explore the range of conditions and variables. Below is a description of the inputs as well as an analysis of the results.

Four (4) proposed wall constructions were analyzed to determine how different types, quantities, and configurations of insulation would impact the existing constructions. The configurations were based on outlined solutions for meeting Washington State Energy Code (WSEC) or providing improved thermal comfort. Two of the proposed constructions meet WSEC (Option 1 and Option 2), while two of the solutions (Option A and Option B) fall short of fully meeting WSEC, but would provide improved insulation values. The options simulated included:

Base Case (Existing Conditions) (R-4.8)
3-1/2” Masonry
1” Air Gap
7-1/2” Hollow Clay Tile Back-Up Wall
1-1/2” Plaster

Option 1 (Meets WSEC) (R-15.4, continuous insulation)
3-1/2” Masonry
1” Air Gap
7-1/2” Hollow Clay Tile Back-Up Wall
1-1/2” Plaster
2” Expanded Polystyrene
Vapor Retarder (1perm)
0” Gypsum

Option 2 (Meets WSEC) (R-20.9, insulation is not continuous)
3-1/2” Masonry
1” Air Gap
7-1/2” Hollow Clay Tile Back-Up Wall
1-1/2” Plaster
3” Batt Insulation
0-1/2” Expanded Polystyrene
Vapor Retarder (1perm)
0-5/8” Gypsum

Option A (R 17.4, insulation is not continuous)
3-1/2” Masonry
1” Air Gap
7-1/2” Hollow Clay Tile Back-Up Wall
1-1/2 Plaster
2” Foamed-In-Place Polyurethane
Vapor Retarder (1perm)
0-5/8” Gypsum

Option B (R-18.4, insulation is not continuous)
3-1/2” Masonry
1” Air Gap
7-1/2” Hollow Clay Tile Back-Up Wall
1-1/2” Plaster
3-1/2” Batt Insulation
Vapor Retarder (1perm)
0-5/8” Gypsum

Materials It should be noted that no material testing was performed during this phase of the project – instead default material properties were chosen from the WUFI database. Materials used include:

  • Masonry: The material ‘Brick (Old)’ was used to simulate the existing masonry. The material is a generic historic brick material compiled from a variety of different bricks and included in the WUFI database.
  • Airspaces: All airspaces were modeled without additional moisture capacity which according to WUFI, models more realistic moisture storage in air cavities.
  • Hollow Clay Tile: The historic drawings indicate that behind the masonry is hollow clay tile. WUFI does not have a default material for hollow clay tile. Instead a masonry material ‘Red Matt Clay Brick’ was used to represent the solid portions of the clay tile. Air spaces were used to simulate the hollow portions of the tile.
  • Historic Plaster: The WUFI database does not have a default historic plaster material. The ‘Regular Lime Stucco’ material was used to simulate the existing plaster.
  • Batt Insulation: ‘Low Density Glass Fiber Batt Insulation’ was used in simulations.
  • Rigid Insulation/Expanded Polystrene: ‘Expanded Polystyrene’ was used in simulations.
  • Fomed-In-Place: ‘Sprayed Polyurethane Closed-Cell’ was used in simulations
  • Gypsum: ‘Interior Gypsum Board’ was used in simulations.


  • Weather/Interior Conditions In each simulation the model was set to mimic extreme situations to verify that the existing walls will perform in all conditions. The Spokane, Washington weather file indicates that the south elevation should have the most wind driven rain and moisture impacting the wall. Given this information the analysis used south exposure and the Spokane weather file to simulate exterior conditions. For the interior climate conditions the following profiles were used:

  • Interior temperatures ranging from 69 °F to 72 °F
  • Relative humidity ranging from 50% – 60%


  • The above values represent a relatively high moisture load which is consistent with the existing use as a residential facility.

    Water Intrusion Additionally as per ASHRAE 160 a small leak (1% of driving rain) was introduced into the exterior assembly to simulation a scenario where water was penetrating the exterior surface. This could occur at bondline failures in the mortar or penetrations through the wall assembly. The leak was placed past the masonry veneer on the face of the hollow clay tile backup wall.

    Initial Conditions Lastly the initial conditions of the materials were determined using ASHRAE 160. For existing wall materials EMC80 was used as the initial moisture content. (EMC80 is a value expressing an equilibrium of water and material masses at 80% humidity). For new components the expectation was that the materials would be installed from the interior and would remain dry during the construction process – thus EMC80 was used for new components as well.

    WUFI RESULTS
    Four metrics were used to interpret and analyze the following WUFI results: Total Water Content/Water Content in Material Layers, Temperature, Relative Humidity, and Isopleths.

    Total-Water-Contents-WSU-Wilmer-Davis-WUFI-Report-6Total Water Content WUFI can predict the total accumulation of water over the time frame of the simulation, in this case five years. Over the course of each year a wall assembly will be wetted by the rain, and dry over the summer months. Differences in humidity and temperature between spaces may cause water condensation within the walls. If conditions do not allow condensation or other water to dry, materials may accumulate water over a period of time.

    The chart above shows how each of the different simulations performed. Note that total water content is measured per ft2 of wall. Walls that are thinner (existing construction) will inherently have less capacity to hold water. In general all of the walls performed in a similar manner – an indication that the retrofit strategies should perform in a comparable manner when compared to the existing walls. As can be seen in the chart, all of the simulations, including the base case showed some accumulation of water over the five year simulation. These results, however, do not conclusively show that the proposed walls will accumulate water. The results indicate that even the base case is accumulating water over time. During PMA’s site visit, however, the existing exterior walls appeared to be performing well – which would not be the case if they were consistently accumulating water. Additional analysis showed that the gradual accumulation of Total Water Content appears to be a result of initial instability within the wall construction that equalizes over time. A 20 year simulation showed accumulation over the first five years, after which the water content stabilizes.

    Water Content in Material Layers Each of the individual layers of material in a wall assembly have the capacity to hold and retain water. A high water content in any individual layer can indicate the potential for mold growth, the possibility for damage associated with freeze thaw, and a reduction in R-Value based on moisture content. Mold growth is possible when the moisture content is above 20% and if the material has the capacity to feed mold growth. The charts below show how each simulation performed for each layer within the wall.

    Water-Content-Materials-WSU-Wilmer-Davis-WUFI-ReportIn general most layers remained well below the 20% threshold for mold growth. The insulation layers, however, are an exception. Options 2 and B both had batt and/or foam insulation which yearly exceeded 20% water. This quantity of water is somewhat concerning for the batt insulation as it may reduce the material’s R-Value and/or contribute to mold growth depending on the composition of the material. Solutions that used foam insulation performed better than those with batt insulation.

    Temperature One common result of insulating a historic building from the interior is increased freeze thaw action. Insulation prevents the interior conditioned space from heating and drying the exterior masonry. As a result the masonry is typically saturated with more water and exposed to colder temperatures. The analysis looked at the temperature within the middle of the masonry to determine how added insulation would impact the material. A chart comparing the base case to the four options for insulation is located below. As can be seen the brick temperature remains consistent with the base case in all retrofit options. This is an indication that the masonry may not by exposed to additional weathering as a result of added interior insulation. It should be noted that not all masonry reacts to water saturation and freezing conditions in the same manner. To further analyze the masonry’s susceptibility to freeze-thaw action lab analysis is recommended to determine material performance. If results indicate that the masonry is susceptible to freeze-thaw it will be critical to ensure new constructions do not lead to a significantly colder/wetter exterior wall.

    Relative Humidity The relative humidity of the air within the wall construction also has an impact on material longevity and mold potential. A high relative humidity in plaster or batt insulation layers may indicate mold growth, while a high relative humidity in layers with reinforcement may indicate the potential for corrosion. A constant and high relative humidity (above 80%) indicates the potential for mold growth. The charts to the right focus on several susceptible layers, the existing plaster, batt insulation, and gypsum board. In general the majority of the layers susceptible to mold remained below 80% relative humidity, or consistently dropped below 80% relative humidity allowing the material to periodically dry. An exception was the existing plaster layer. The addition of interior insulation caused the relative humidity within the layer to increase approximately 15%, from 65% (base case) to just over 80% (all options for added insulation). This spike in relative humidity is concerning and could indicate the potential for mold growth within the layer.
    Materials-Temperature-Relative-Humidity-WSU-Wilmer-Davis-WUFI-Report
    Isopleths WUFI can also predict mold growth by plotting isopleths on the interior surface. The isopleths are plots of the temperature and the relative humidity for every time period calculation. When the temperature and relative humidity both exceed the limiting lines calculated by WUFI there is the potential for mold growth. The simulations indicate that there is very little potential for mold growth. All of the simulations begin above the limiting lines, but over time equalize and remain well below the threshold calculated by WUFI.
    wufi-isopleths-results-wsu
    CONCLUSIONS
    The results described above indicate that there could be some challenges to designing an appropriate insulation system for Wilmer Davis Hall. Three of the primary concerns noted in the above analysis are: increasing total water content quantities; high quantities of water in the batt insulation layers; and consistently high relative humidity’s in the existing plaster layer.

    In general Option 1 and Option A performed better than Option 2 and Option B – primarily because they relied on only foam/rigid insulation. This resulted in no risk of mold growth within the insulation layers and no reduction of the R-Value. Concerns were still identified with both Options in terms of total water content and relative humidity in the plaster layer.

    Prior to detailing a new wall for construction additional analysis is recommended. Minor changes in material properties can have significant impacts on wall performance. The above analysis has indicated that there is a potential for mold growth, but has not confirmed its likelihood. Most of the metrics indicated no risk of mold growth – however because some of the metrics showed a potential for mold, additional analysis is recommended. Testing of the existing materials and specific data on proposed products should be used to refine this analysis and determine extent of mold growth risk.



    Written by Halla Hoffer, Associate, Architect I

    Overview of Architectural Styles in Oregon: 1840s to 1970s

    The City of Gresham applied for and was granted a CLG grant from the State Historic Preservation Office to increase community interest in historic preservation. The City felt that a presentation focused on architectural styles would be likely to generate some interest. They contacted PMA to find out if we would work within their budget and provide a powerpoint presentation geared towards citizens with no planning or architecture background, but also useful for City staff and historians. PMA was happy to be able to provide an overview of Oregon architecture styles from “settlement era” up until mid-1970s. The presentation highlighted the styles most likely to be seen in the Gresham area, especially residential and commercial uses. It was educational for our office to find those historic properties in Gresham and incorporate some of them into the presentation.

    Use, Type, Style
    It is difficult to understand style without an appreciation of the ways style can be overlaid on various types and uses of buildings. The USE of a building is its primary function. For instance, a church (use) might have a hall with steeple (types or forms) and be Neoclassical (style). The use or purpose of a building is strongly linked to its form, but even within a category of use such as residential, one might find various types such as “apartment block,” “bungalow,” or “four-square.” TYPE just means the basic form, so it is useful for historians to categorize these forms into expected sizes or arrangements of volumes. An apartment block is generally a simple rectangular building with several apartment units and a shared entry. A bungalow is simply a small house, one or 1.5 stories, horizontal in expression. Bungalows are often Craftsman in style, but a handful of other styles are sometimes used with a bungalow type. A four-square is a larger house, typically 2 or 2.5 stories, consisting of a somewhat square footprint with 4 rooms on each floor, and a broad front porch with columns or posts.

    The building’s STYLE is determined by the architectural and ornamental details and exterior features applied to the basic structure. Styles change with the times. In fashion and out of fashion, some endure longer. The timeline included is generally reflective of Oregon architectural fashions. However, style also can be affected by technology- for example, the development of steel frame buildings allowed for a new style to emerge: Modernism. Older bearing-wall masonry construction only allowed for small windows set between structural wall areas. A proliferation of new building types, such as the geodesic dome, occurred in the Modern era.

    We categorize buildings by type, use, and style when doing a survey of resources in a particular area. The data can be compared quickly and easily to data from other surveys, so we can see the patterns and history of development emerging in any particular area.

    Stylistic Timeline of Architectural Styles in Oregon
    From Vernacular Forms and Styles, to Renaissance Revivals, Northwest Regional Style and Post Modern, Oregon has a robust and diverse vocabulary of architecture. The stylistic timeline below is meant as a broad overview, highlighting key attributes per style listed, to help you identify your local and regional architectural resources.

    OR-Arch-Overview-Stylest-1
    OR-Arch-Overview-Stylest-2
    OR-Arch-Overview-Stylest-3
    OR-Arch-Overview-Stylest-4
    Written by Kristen Minor, Associate, Preservation Planner

    Trinity-Episcopal-Church-PMAPDX-building-science

    Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Seismic Rehabilitation

    Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was constructed ca. 1904 in the Gothic Revival Style. PMA was the historic architect on the design team tasked with conducting an exterior assessment including conditions of the slate roof, flashing system, stone veneer, and other details.

    In addition, PMA studied the passive ventilation potential of the sanctuary in order to improve the space for the maximum number of occupants with the minimal cost and changes for the congregation. The original design included 10 operable dormers along the Sanctuary roof. The dormers have since been boarded over, preventing rising heat from escaping. Congregants find the space overheated during the summer months and one must question whether operable dormers would provide adequate ventilation to sufficiently cool the space. PMA developed an energy model using OpenStudio and EnergyPlus to compare the thermal comfort of occupants within the space. The study focused on the thermal comfort within the Sanctuary, and results showed natural ventilation could dramatically lower indoor temperatures during peak summer months.

    The Form and Function of Lighting Design

    When we experience an interior architectural space, lighting plays a large role in setting the mood and functionality of a space. No matter an existing, modern or historic building, light of a space is a critical aspect of great interior design. Lighting elements can be designed to enhance the space and architectural details, set the mood, and compliment furniture, color schemes, and art work. For spaces without an abundance of natural light, lighting design becomes even more critical design consideration. For a recent project, PMA designed lighting schemes for two historic four-story tall interior atriums.

    The existing atriums utilize natural light from skylights above; however the original design provided no artificial overhead lighting in the space. During the winter months or at dusk and night, the light quality of space relies on the little ambient light from the skylights or artificial light from the surrounding rooms and halls. The light during these times is inadequate for the necessary function of the space. PMA was tasked with providing a lighting solution that would sensitively address the historic nature of the atriums and provide adequate visibility in the space.
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    Defining the Project Challenges
    The concepts for our lighting schemes were based on the intended function of each identical space. The focus of the design and specified need of the client was to provide lighting for evening social gatherings, networking, and overall entertaining. Lighting needed to be adequate enough for speakers presenting to a crowd and for listeners to be able to read any related literature. Therefore, it was crucial to design lighting schemes that could provide ample lighting for evening events without compromising the historic integrity and ambiance of each space. To provide a solution for our clients’ challenge, we considered the following when approaching our design for the lighting schemes:

  • How to provide power to the source of lighting without compromising the historic elements.
  • Designing for large volumes of vertical space: hanging lighting within the atrium versus lighting from the top; how the light travels in the space, how it casts down shadows, the reflections off the floor and other surfaces.
  • One atrium exhibits permanent hanging sculptures and art; the lighting design required minimal approach to integrated and highlight the sculpture without distracting from it.
  • Designing for and highlighting the atriums’ architectural details, like the cornices, in addition how to hide or incorporating other non-historic architectural details like the structural support columns.
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    Methodology for Design Solutions
    The prominent design goal was to increase overall light levels through a refined, modern scheme that would provide juxtaposition to the historic architectural elements and hanging sculpture. As in any historic project, it is important to avoid solutions that are faux historic, competing with, compromising, or confusing the original historic character. The few pragmatic design parameters defined by the client allowed for design freedom to provide several unique, distinct solutions. While creating our designs, PMA experimented with the type of fixtures (down lights, sconce, defused) and placement of these fixtures within the large volume of the atriums. PMA explored these options in a Revit model of the atrium spaces, which enabled evaluation of the design solutions through lifelike renderings that portrayed the quality and levels of light. Illuminance studies of lux levels provided a way to evaluate each design and provide refinement to meet necessary levels defined by the function of the space. Some lighting design options included:

  • Design lighting to highlight and contrast architectural features from surroundings, for example placing fixtures in the cove of architecture cornices located above openings within the atrium.
  • One atrium has a glass block floor element which could be illuminated from below to provide a dramatic light feature.
  • Accenting the verticality of the space with defused ribbon lighting set within the non-historic structural C-channels. This would transform these elements into elegant vertical lines leading the eye to the above skylights.
  • Pendant lights interspersed between sculptures would provide orbs of light to highlight elements of the sculpture. These fixtures would provide defused-light with optional downlights within the same fixture.
  • Suspended down lights at top of atrium with lights accenting sculptures from above and side.
  • Wall sconces to accents light and wash the atrium walls and columns; this would provide an overall glow to the space.
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    Scheme 1 unified serval lighting design ideas to provide different light level options in the space. Wall sconce lights provide general illumination of the space. Large circular hanging fixtures consist of defused tube lights and large circular defused downlights. Each group of fixture types can be controlled independently and dimmed to provide the ambience desired.

    Scheme 2 specifically works with the sculptures in the second atrium space. Vertical ribbon lights provide ambience illuminance of the space while concealing non-historic structural elements. Pendant lights hang interspersed within the sculptural elements. These have a defused light with an option for downlights. Each grouping of fixtures can be illuminated together or separately depending on the quality of light needed.

    Scheme 3 was chosen by the client and until announced must remain confidential. Stay tuned for the reveal.


    Written by Hali Knight.

    2016 Year in Review

    As we look back over the past year and reflect on our completed, on-going, and upcoming projects, we’d like to take the opportunity to say we have truly enjoyed collaborating and communicating with you!!
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    2016 PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS
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    From top, left to right: Studio Building Exterior + Window Assessment (Portland, OR); Joseph Vance Building Exterior Envelope Repair (Seattle, WA); PPS Grant High School Modernization (Portland, OR); SPS Magnolia School Renovation (Seattle, WA)

    PMA HAPPENINGS
    2015-2016-Halla-HWe are excited to announce: Halla Hoffer, Associate, successfully passed her ARE and is a licensed Architect in the state of Oregon.

    Halla is passionate about rehabilitating historic and existing architecture – integrating the latest energy technologies to maintain the structures inherent sustainability.

    PMAPDX-silver-to-goldWe are committed to the reuse and adaptability of existing resources, and in 2016 moved from Silver to Gold certification!

    hp-sing-tong-HQ-photo-courtesy-ORHS

    New Chinatown / Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines

    The New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines are adopted land use approval criteria that protect the architectural integrity and cultural significance of Portland’s New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District. Guidelines are anticipated to be adopted early in 2017. The document consists of a full context and historic background for the neighborhood which significantly expands the existing NRHP Historic District nomination. The document also includes land use approval criteria applicable to new development and alterations in the district. The guidelines allow change to take place which will respect the unique character of the district, the only historic district in Portland which is primarily significant for its cultural history.

    PMA was part of the selected consultant team that coordinated with PDC and BPS staff to create the proposed design guidelines. The guidelines are written to be flexible, yet to guide future projects to take cues from the architectural and cultural history in the historic district. There were a number of directly relevant tasks involved in the development of the guidelines and background. Developing an understanding of the difficulties experienced by immigrant cultures in Oregon was critical. Interviews with community members were also an important tool for learning about cultural attitudes, past events, and the aspirations of the ethnic and cultural groups with ties in the District. Finally, the guidelines advocate for preservation of the presence of a thriving community, which is different from preservation of the original architecture of the District. They are not applicable to types of uses within a building or to interiors. The resulting document will include a background and context discussion preceding the actual design guidelines, each of which will be illustrated with photographs (both modern and historic) and options for how each guideline can be met.

    State and Federal Historic Preservation Incentives Available in Oregon

    Historic Preservation Incentives at the State and Federal level are either tax incentives or grants. PMA keeps up to date regarding these programs as incentives are ever-changing and apt to suddenly sunset or be revised. Following is a brief explanation of incentives offered by state or federal government or private agencies as of 2016. PMA has worked with multiple owners and agencies across the Pacific Northwest to take advantage of state and federal tax incentive programs, and we can provide expert experience in the latest interpretations of work that meets the standards for these incentives. A few other redevelopment incentive programs are also mentioned below, if they have been successfully combined with historic preservation incentive programs in Oregon.
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    FEDERAL AND STATE OF OREGON TAX INCENTIVES

    Oregon Special Assessment

  • Properties contributing to a district or individually listed on the National Register and in need of some rehabilitation are eligible for the State of Oregon Special Assessment property tax incentive. Property taxes are “frozen” at the time of application and are held at that value for 10 years. During this time period owners may make significant investments in the property without an increase in assessed value. The earlier the investment is made and the larger the resulting increase in market value, the greater the benefit to the owner.
  • A Preservation Plan must be submitted, outlining the rehabilitation work proposed. Exterior work is prioritized, and the work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The total valuation of work must be at least 10% of the property’s Real market value and that amount must be spent in the first five years of the special assessment period.
  • A second term of 10 years is available, with some limitations on the types of preservation work that are eligible for the program. Eligible work includes energy conservation projects, ADA compliance, seismic improvements, or sustainability. The investment must meet or exceed 10% of the Real market value of the property at the time of application.
  • Non-contributing properties in need of rehabilitation could be eligible for the State of Oregon Special Assessment property tax incentive, if it is determined by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) that the property is or would be eligible for listing on the National Register, and that the renovation would restore obscured or missing historic character.


  • Federal Historic Tax Credit Incentives (HTC)

  • Rehabilitation tax credits, in the amount of up to 20% of the amount spent on the project, are available to qualifying projects.
  • Property must be listed either individually or as a contributing property to a historic district listed in the National Register. Alternately, to qualify for up to 10% in tax credits, a non-designated building must have been constructed before 1936.
  • Property must be income-producing for at least 5 years after rehabilitation. Owner-occupied residential projects such as condominiums do not qualify, but apartments or mixed-use projects are eligible. The project must be substantial. The owner must spend more on rehabilitation expenditures than the “adjusted basis” value of the property. The Investment Tax Credit does not include the purchase price of the property.
  • Rehabilitation work must meet certain standards for preservation. These are the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
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    Federal Preservation Easement Tax Deduction
    A preservation easement is a legal agreement to protect a historic property from changes, including neglect. The property must be individually listed on the NRHP or a contributing structure within a National Register-listed historic district or local historic district. If a property owner makes a voluntary donation to a trust such as the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (HPLO) of all or a portion of a property, the donation can qualify as a charitable tax donation. Only some of the rights associated with the property are being donated, and the donation permanently limits uses or changes as specified. The owner of the historic property may still use the property, and must maintain it. The owner may sell the property, but the restrictions will remain with the property. The preservation easement may be structured to include only the exterior of a building, or may include air rights, interiors, grounds, or other features.

    OTHER INCENTIVES OR PROGRAMS

    Private and Public Grants
    Grants for historic preservation work vary widely as to eligibility rules, requirements, and amounts. While private-sector grant-making organizations are more apt to change grant programs or requirements year-to-year, they also are more likely to provide larger sums of money. Historic preservation grants are sometimes only available for preservation planning, survey, or designation work as opposed to “brick and mortar” projects.

    The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) administers Federal grants directly to local government entities through the Certified Local Government (CLG) program. The SHPO also administers State grants through the Oregon Heritage Grants, Oregon Museums Grants, Preserving Oregon Grants, Diamonds in the Rough Grants, and Oregon Historic Cemeteries Grants. These are all competitive and offer relatively modest amounts of funding.

    New Market Tax Credit
    In December 2015, Congress approved an extension of the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program through 2019. There is an immediate opportunity for investors, low-income communities, and businesses to use this successful program in order to revitalize economically distressed areas and create jobs. The State also runs the Oregon New Market Tax Credit program, which is modeled on the same requirements as the Federal program.

    The Blanchet House of Hospitality, a new (2012) building in a historic district in downtown Portland, used New Markets Tax Credits. NMTC and HTC have also been used together, such as in the Mercy Corps restoration/ expansion in the Skidmore Old Town historic district.
    The NMTC is not available for loans or investments in projects involving residential rental housing alone, but may be used for mixed-use and some other housing projects. Investments must be made to designated Community Development Entities (CDEs), which in turn provide investments in low-income communities. The investment is claimed over a 7-year credit allowance period.

    Low-Income Housing Tax Credits
    The federal government allots a certain amount per state per year to be awarded to developers willing to provide low income housing. Residential rental properties only may qualify for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program. A certain percentage of the units must be restricted to occupants making 50% or less (or 60% or less) of local median income, and the affordability restrictions must be maintained for a minimum of 30 years. LIHTC has been successfully combined with HTC in downtown Portland projects such as the Admiral Apartments, the Martha Washington, and the Bronaugh Apartments.


    Written by Kristen Minor, Associate/Preservation Planner

    Local Historic Preservation Incentives Available in Portland, Oregon

    With a firm comprised of architects and planners, we understand and assist owners and developers navigate local historic preservation incentives made available by the City of Portland. The following is a comprehensive overview of incentives offered by the City, as of 2016, in the form of various use allowances, development rules “waivers,” and opportunities to transfer allowed but unused floor area to other property owners, creating an opportunity for a monetary benefit. We grouped the available historic preservation incentives available by the following: City of Portland Incentives, City of Portland/State of Oregon Building Code Allowances, and Portland Development Commission Programs.

    The City of Portland’s Central City 2035 Plan (as well as other related City code projects) are currently under review. The Proposed Draft was published in June 2016 and is being reviewed by many City and non-City agencies, bureaus, and organizations. Proposed changes directly affect portions of the Portland Zoning Code, but the existing Zoning Code will remain in effect until adoption of the final Central City 2035 Plan, probably in late 2018. Increased transfer options are the major change proposed.

    “Landmark” as defined by the City is a property individually listed on the National Register, or evaluated by the City of Portland as a local historic resource. Many incentives are also available to resources designated contributing to a National Register-listed Historic District or locally designated Conservation District.

    Marshall Wells Lofts building preservation plan.

    Marshall Wells Lofts building preservation plan.


    CITY OF PORTLAND INCENTIVES
    Additional density in Single-Dwelling zones. Landmarks in Single-Dwelling zones may be used as multi-dwelling structures, up to a maximum of one dwelling unit for each 1,000 square feet of site area. No additional off-street parking is required, but the existing number of off-street parking spaces must be retained. The landmark may be expanded and the new floor area used for additional dwelling units only if the expansion is approved through historic design review.

    Additional density in Multi-Dwelling zones. Landmarks and contributing structures in historic districts located in multi-dwelling zones may be used as multi-dwelling structures, with no maximum density. No additional off-street parking is required, but the existing number of off-street parking spaces must be retained. The building may be expanded and the new floor area used for additional dwelling units only if the expansion is approved through historic design review.

    Nonresidential uses in the RX zone. In the RX zone, except on certain sites which directly front on the Park Blocks, up to 100 percent of the floor area of a landmark or contributing structure may be approved for Retail Sales and Service, Office, Major Event Entertainment, or Manufacturing and Production uses through Historic Preservation Incentive Review.

    Nonresidential uses in the RH, R1 and R2 zones. In the RH, R1 and R2 zones, up to 100 percent of the floor area of a landmark or contributing structure may be approved for Retail Sales and Service, Office, or Manufacturing and Production uses as follows:

  • a. Review required. The nonresidential uses must be approved through Historic Preservation Incentive Review; and
  • b. Previous nonresidential use required. The last use in the structure must have been in a nonresidential use category and have been allowed when established; if part of the structure was in residential use, the proposal must include at least as many dwelling units as were part of the last allowed use or uses. If the last allowed use was residential only, the structure is not eligible for this incentive.

  • Daycare is an allowed use in all residential zones in historic landmark or contributing structures. In non-historic structures, daycare uses in residential zones other than RX require a conditional use review.

    Conditional uses in Residential, Commercial, and Employment zones. In these zones, applications for conditional uses at landmarks or contributing structures are processed through a Type II procedure, rather than the longer Type III procedure requiring a public hearing.

    Exemption from minimum density. Minimum housing density regulations do not apply in landmarks or contributing structures.

    Crane building historic consulting for storefront updates.

    Crane building historic consulting for storefront updates.


    Commercial allowances in Central City Industrial zones. National Register-listed properties or those contributing to a National Register-listed historic district have potential to include office and retail uses.

    Commercial allowances in employment and industrial zones. Office and retail uses are allowed in landmarks in areas where those uses are otherwise restricted.

    Increased maximum parking ratios in Central City. National Register-listed properties or those contributing to a National Register-listed historic district within the Central City Core parking area are allowed to increase parking ratios.

    Commercial allowances in Guild’s Lake Industrial Sanctuary District. Increases allowances for office and retail uses in landmarks in an area where non-industrial uses are otherwise restricted.

    The transfer of density and floor area ratio (FAR) from a landmark to another location is allowed in Multi-Dwelling, Commercial, and Employment zones. Historic properties with unused development “potential” therefore may find a market for the FAR.

    Proposed Development transfer opportunities (potentially adopted in 2018):
    Landmarks and contributing resources in historic districts will be able to transfer FAR City-wide, as long as the “sending” resource meets seismic reinforcement standards. Seismic work may be allowable in phases over a period of years. FAR to be transferred is not only the base amount unused by the existing historic structure, but also an additional 3:1.

    U.S. Custom House renovation and historic tax credits.

    U.S. Custom House renovation and historic tax credits.


    PORTLAND DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION PROGRAMS
    The Portland Development Commission (PDC) has operated several programs to benefit owners of existing buildings (not necessarily historic buildings). These programs have been suspended and will be replaced by the Prosperity Investment Program (PIP). Information about the PIP is not yet available, but the program may still provide benefits to owners, similar to the suspended Storefront Improvement Program.

    For further information on how PMA helps owners consider reuse options, navigate the regulations, and take advantage of available benefits – please visit our website to review our multidisciplinary projects and comprehensive architecture, building envelope science, and planning services.

    Written by Kristen Minor, Associate, Preservation Planner