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Center for Performing Arts proposal includes new building on SW Main

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Concept drawing of proposed new Portland Center for Performing Arts building on SW Main Street at Broadway. (View looking west on SW Main St)

Google Streetview of how it looks now.

The Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA) wants to renovate and possibly expand their facilities on SW Broadway Blvd in downtown Portland. In addition to improvements to the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, one concept under consideration is a new building (in drawing above) that would be located on what is currently a key connection in the bike network — SW Main Street between Broadway and the Park Blocks.

View of SW Main St. from the South Park Blocks.

PCPA director Robyn Williams made a presentation about the proposal during a recent Metro Council worksession.

According to a Metro News article based on that worksession, the Main Street project would close the street “to vehicles” in order to construct a “glass-encased exhibition space between the facilities [the Schnitz and Antoinette Hatfield Hall].”

This raises an important issue: SW Main St. is a key connection in the bikeway network that brings people from the Hawthorne Bridge bikeway to the South Park Blocks and beyond.

The Metro article only mentions maintaining “pedestrian access” and makes no mention of bicycle traffic. Here’s an excerpt of comments from Metro Councilor Barbara Roberts:

“Pedestrian access along Main Street from Broadway to the Park Blocks would be maintained during most hours… There ought to be some way to do the pedestrian walkthrough so that it’s always there, regardless of time of day or night,” she said. “If you want to flare up a concern the community can have a fit about, this might be the fit.”

PCPA director Williams told us this morning that the project (which would cost about $20 million) is still in the “feasibility stage” and that most of their energy is going toward the Schnitzer Hall revamp. That being said, if the PCPA could find the money, a new building on Main St. would very likely become a reality.

“If money was no object,” Williams said via telephone this morning, “I’d love to do something on Main Street.” Williams says a Main Street exhibition hall was on original plans for the Hatfield building and this is simply a “dusting off” of those old plans.

When I shared concerns about bike access, Williams said they weren’t far enough in the process to be sure how or if bicycle traffic would be impacted. She did however, say “That’s a really good point” (she was also quick to point out that many people on the PCPA staff ride bikes).

“This is a good time to have the issue raised with us… I think it’d be wonderfully cool [to maintain the bikeway]… What I want to avoid is becoming a big solid wall.”

Do you ride SW Main Street? Are you concerned about how this project might impact bike access?