Walt McMonies was featured in a March 9 OregonLive article titled “The Harder They Fall.” The article discusses why Portland is so vulnerable to a catastrophic earthquake — answer: because the city has at least 1,600 buildings with no steel reinforcements in their walls. If the ground were to begin shaking, these buildings — with their unreinforced masonry (URM) — could become death traps. McMonies commented on the impact an earthquake could have on the city and his thoughts about the City Council’s mandate for seismic refits of URMs.
"I'm the owner who has actually done this, and I was able to do it without putting myself into bankruptcy," McMonies says.
His cost? $1.1 million. "We managed to do what opponents think is impossible, which is to retrofit the building with people in place. We did it incrementally, out of cash flow."
But McMonies acknowledges the "relatively low cost" — $25 per square foot — is "deceptive." Because the building's floors did not require strengthening, he didn't need to demolish partitioning or pay relocation costs for his tenants.
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