Bricks, Mortars and Memories OpEd August 2018

OpEd By Corey Brunish

Everyone wants the safest possible city. Every building owner wants to know he has done everything in his power to make his premises safe beyond reproach.

That said, are we doing the very best for our citizens and our city by imposing mandatory rehabilitation via seismic upgrades?

Are we serving our population, our heritage and our economy by forcing the vacating of hundreds of commercial properties for twelve months at a time at a cost of lost revenue (for both the landlord and the business in residence) and hard costs of more than $100,000 each?

Are we preserving our history and the art of our ancestors by thus compelling owners to sell and demolish our legacy?

As a resident of Portland for 37 years and an owner of some 15 buildings in town, rather than see us as a city, destroy so much of what we have built, why not use our intellect to find another path?

Surely, in place of panic mongering and strong arming, we can calmly and methodically solve the issues before us and preserve the chronicle that is our architecture.

What is that alternative?.

Science – which invented the cellphone, the jet plane, the electric car, the drone, 3D printer – the things we use to make our lives better and safer and which make the world better to live in.

Surely there exists technology that can “save” these structures without twelve months of down time.

Surely there is a way to retrofit masonry structures from the outside, that makes them impervious to seismic threats.

Surely there is an epoxy so strong as to render a one-story brick building impervious to seismic attack and failure.

What a shame to lose countless vintage buildings because we, as a city, in the moment of “crisis” failed to seek and locate a better option.

My buildings are not just brick and mortar. My buildings make a neighborhood.

My buildings house places where our citizens have an experience;

A graduation dinner, an anniversary celebration, a first date;

Finding the ideal gift for the beloved daughter, son, brother, sister, husband and wife;

The places we shop and eat form the very fabric of our lives.

I don’t lease spaces, I build memories. I provide a venue for people to make a living.

People who pay taxes — income, business, property and payroll taxes – the very definition of symbiosis is small business and the city in which they work.

Once these buildings are gone, they are gone forever.

I say, “Not on my watch.”

As the custodians of these classic and beloved structures, we must do better.

We must serve and honor the history that was put in our care.

We shape our buildings, then they shape us” — Winston Churchill

Bricks, Mortars and Memories OpEd August 2018

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