Owner Seeks to Tear Down Historic 1927 St. Johns Home

PORTLAND, Ore. – An application to demolish a 90-year-old St. Johns neighborhood home on Portland’s historic resource inventory has been submitted to the city, and because of the building’s status a 120-day demolition delay has been triggered.

Located at 10425 N. Oswego Ave., the house was built in 1927 and sits on a roughly 11,500-square-foot lot. The building itself totals 1,632 square feet in size.

Photo credit: RMLS

The house sold on Jan. 24 for $432,500. Although public property records do not yet list the new owner, city permitting documents indicate Kimco Properties, also known as FX Homes, purchased the property. This business is registered to Francis Gaudette of Sandy.

RedFin lists the sale price as about $60,000 under what the website estimates as market value. The real estate listing shows realtors marketed the property as a potential tear-down, noting that “the existing home could be restored with an additional buildable lot or demolished for future development.”

Demolition delay

On Feb. 1 the city received an application to demolish the house. The applicant was listed as Kevin Partain of Urban Visions. Because the house is listed on the city’s historic resources inventory compiled in 1980, it is subject to an extended 120-day demolition delay.

The 120-day delay requirement can be negated if the property owner asks for the house to be removed from the inventory, as has been the case in several cases reported on by the Portland Chronicle, but that did not happen in this case. The 120-day delay will expire June 1.

Photo credit: Google Maps

In an email, City Planner Brandon Spencer-Hartle noted that, “as is the case with many of our neighborhoods furthest from the Central City, St. Johns is underrepresented in Portland’s Historic Resources Inventory. The purpose of the 120-day demolition delay for ranked HRI properties is to allow time for the public to advance creative alternatives to demolition, such as relocation or land swap.”

The majority of demolition delays this publication has reported on have not led to alternatives to demolition. It’s too early to say whether this property will have a different outcome, but there is one significant difference when compared with the majority of demolition delay scenarios: in this case, several vacant parcels of land directly west of this property are owned by Portland Parks and Recreation.

The city’s parks department has expressed willingness in the past to negotiate land deals in preservation efforts. In the St. Johns case, the parks district property is zoned to allow more units than the land the house is built on.

Historic listing

According to state records, the house was originally owned by M. B. Nelson and was considered significant for the historic resource inventory due to its architecture. It has a “gambrel roof with wide dormer,” “gabled entrance hood supported by brackets,” “open porch,” “sun porch,” “lattice railings,” and “six-over-one, double-hung windows,” according to its listing.

Photo credit: Historic Resource Inventory

The house was given a historic resource rank of III, the lowest of the three-rank scale, which indicates it could be listed on the National Register of Historic Places but only as part of a wider historic district, not as an individual structure.