A promise made was seemingly broken, as land is cleared to make way for a new mixed-use apartment building

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - In mid-June, this century-old Douglas fir tree was felled to make way for an 84-unit apartment complex on the large lot previously occupied by the Chinese Presbyterian Church - on Woodstock Boulevard at 50th. It lay there a few days; but then was cleared away with everything else, except for dirt and a huge pile of broken cement.The sweet smell of freshly-cut fir was hanging heavily in the air. A 120-foot-tall Douglas fir on the northeast edge of the property formerly occupied by the now-demolished Chinese Presbyterian Church, at S.E. 50th and Woodstock Boulevard, was cut down on Tuesday, June 15th. It was still lying where it fell days later.

A retired city forester and Woodstock resident who walked daily by the tree in his youth on his way to school, remembers the distinctive tree even then; so some estimates are that it may have been at least 150 years old when it was felled for the new 84 unit apartment complex with retail shops on the ground floor that are planned for that large lot. Previously, the developer of the future apartment complex had said the tree could be saved, but in the end, its location was apparently deemed inconvenient.

The Woodstock Neighborhood is known for its many stately Douglas Firs, and the logo of the neighborhood is the depiction of such a tree. Now some residents of the neighborhood have begun wondering aloud how many of these trees may be left, after our Inner Southeast Portland neighborhoods reach the housing density that the city is advocating? Large trees do provide cooling shade, and also absorb more carbon dioxide than do smaller trees – and, with the long-term trend toward increasing heat in the Pacific Northwest, the City of Portland might before long be motivated to ask developers to make more accommodations in their building plans to enable mature trees to be preserved – and perhaps even to be incorporated into their structures, with the use of creative design.

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