Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty recently signed off on an emergency procurement letter to move forward with the first step towards re-opening O’Bryant Square – demolition of the current unsafe structure. The plan to proceed with the demolition follows years of collaboration between Council offices, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and other bureaus.
“Re-opening O’Bryant Square has been a priority since I became Transportation Commissioner,” said Hardesty. “For the last 2 years, my staff and PBOT’s team have been working tirelessly in collaboration with Council offices and multiple bureaus to bring this agreement across the finish line. I’m so proud that we are now on a path towards revitalizing and reopening another treasured public space in O’Bryant Square downtown.”
The O’Bryant Square Plaza and Garage first opened in 1972 and was named for Hugh Donaldson O’Bryant – Portland’s first Mayor. The garage provided approximately 100 parking spaces during that time. In 2018, a retaining wall in the SW corner of the garage was found to be structurally deficient. A portion of the deficient wall had been re-used from a building on the site that was built in approximately 1915. Leaks into the garage were also discovered around this time. These safety concerns prompted the closure of the garage and plaza above it. A fence has closed off O’Bryant Square to the public ever since.
“O’Bryant Square has been an eyesore since it was condemned,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “I look forward to involving the public in designing the space once it is cleared and have ensured funding for this in my recent budgets.”
With an agreement now in place, demolition is expected to start in early 2023 with hopes towards completion during the summer of 2023. This will include the removal of all hardscape and structures, filling the structure with dirt, and then covering the surface with a new layer of grass.
An agreement for demolition is expected soon with Northwest infrastructure, LLC (NWI). NWI is a Black-owned business founded in 1993 based in Milwaukie, Oregon. The estimated cost of the agreement is $4.5 million.
“I am pleased to have been part of the team effort to move the redevelopment of O’Bryant Square forward,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “And now, as the demolition occurs, we will get to work on designing a short-term solution to activate the park so that Portlanders can enjoy this space next summer.”
Portlanders looking to park downtown will still be able to utilize one of PBOT’s five SmartPark parking garages. The five City of Portland SmartPark parking garages include nearly 3,000 public parking spaces and serve shoppers, business clients, and visitors to Downtown Portland. Contact Central Parking at (503) 790-9302 for questions related to SmartPark garage operating hours or visit www.portland.gov/smartpark.