ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM
by Jon Fessler
I am a volunteer at the Historical Society and Museum. I perform the duties of IT activities and management Consultant. I am a retired Engineering manager at the Division level at Tektronix and manager of a Portland radio station and later the television Station Manager and Program Director at the then Warner Bros affiliate in Portland (channel 32). When it sold to Tribune Broadcasting I moved on to another life-long dream with my wife Judy, restoring three historic buildings located in Tigard (one of the sons of the founder of Tigard) – 1909, Condon (once home of Molly Portwood – 1920 (first school teacher in Gilliam County) and Fossil Thompson Inn boarding house circa 1899) in Fossil, Oregon. But so much for me. The following ideas are exclusively mine and not the Museum’s….
While being involved in the search for a new location for the Redmond Museum I have the following observations: After seeing four locations it became obvious to me there were only two locations that appeared as somewhat viable locations. First was the empty School bus barn for about $250,000 (purchase) and the empty Mayfair Theater on a lease basis (costing about $250,000 leased for five years.)
The bus barn would be a permanent asset and with the Mayfair building that the City would end in five years with a shoebox full of receipts. That leads me to my conclusion that the former City Hall aka the “historic” Safeway built in 1940 and I understand the prototype of Safeway buildings built through-out the West including one still standing (at least the last time I was there) in Shelton, Washington where I was born. I spotted it the very first time we came looking for a home here in Redmond. What a good memory that brought back!
So here the City of Redmond already owns a suitable building for the Museum, located “within” the new Historic District and across from the wonderful Centennial Park – allowing the visibility that it is now lacking. It would only contribute to the core area. The rest of the buildings (including the additions to the original Safeway shell could be removed).
Only minor changes would be required for conversion to the museum. The remaining property would be an ideal addition to considerable urban housing built on the remaining more than 3/4 of the block. What an excellent example of continuing the re-purposing of Redmond’s past and another Historic Preservation success story in Redmond.
This building has set empty for about a year. If we had used this logic on the High School building, Redmond would had lost a treasure that everyone all over the world has admired. Do our citizens really want to see another part of Redmond’s past disappear?
The Safeway building is ready made for yet another re-purposing with existing ADA bathrooms, a lunchroom, conference and display area, additional office space etc. The museum would be a great compliment to the future plans of the City to redevelopment of the entire block. It would also be an addition to the Centennial Park across the street.
This proposal was recently sent to the City Council and I hope they seriously consider the proposal for both its historic preservation and fiscal responsibility to the tax-payers of Redmond! Redmond is a great city in which to live! But we can make it even better!
Jon Fessler, Redmond