Commercial Builds to Keep An Eye on in Portland 2020

Despite pandemic and national closures, Portland still has a lot of upcoming urban development projects slated for this summer and the upcoming year. I love keeping an eye on the commercial builds happening around town, and I’m especially excited about these new projects. Take a look.

Pae Living Building

Projected completion: Summer of 2021. The PAE Living Building just broke ground last March in Portland’s historic Old Town District. As architecture firm ZGF claimed in a press release, “PAE Living Building tells the story of Portland: aspirational, progressive, and yet deeply rooted in Pacific Northwest history.” This five-story project located on the corner of SW First Avenue and Pine Street will be the largest commercial-use living building not only in Oregon, but in the entire world.

 

In May of this year, right in the midst of coronavirus’ economic uncertainty, Portland real estate developer Vanessa Sturgeon announced the building of an eight-story office in the city’s Central Eastside. It will be made with cross-laminated timber (CLT), believed to be stronger structurally and to leave a far smaller carbon footprint than steel and concrete. Another benefit of CLT is that buying it supports the local communities in small timber towns. Although said to be more expensive than alternative materials, CLT construction is easier to build and are more appealing. As for the timing of Sturgeon, it may now be the perfect time to strike so that when the building gets finished in two to three years, the economy will hopefully be recovering.

 

Another development worth waiting for is the Unicorn Bed Apartments, soon to rise on 2167 NW Glisan Street in 2021. Aside from its name, Unicorn Beds is interesting because it will provide affordable, compact 2-bedroom apartment units for single mothers. It will give the residents access to all amenities of the neighborhood. The building’s efficient layout makes the units feel and look much larger than their compact size. Well-lit outdoor spaces make it easy for families to interact and encourage community. The project will be two 3-story buildings, with thirteen units and an on-site daycare center.

Last May 14, 2020, The Mann Home in Portland’s Kerns Neighborhood was sold to Innovative Housing Inc. Known for its provision of affordable housing around the metro region, the nonprofit plans to convert the stately 62,000-square-foot Elizabethan-style manor into affordable housing, with 39 units created in the existing building, 49 units in addition, and another 40 units in the south of the building. The units would be considered workforce housing, offering rents to families with incomes of between 30 and 60 percent of the median family income. Offices of Innovative Housing Inc. will also be lodging in the property. To further preserve the Mann Home, historic buildings and large trees will not be moved or displaced.

 

Block 216, already in construction in 2019, will be Portland’s first project built on the Green loop, and the largest development in the city since the US Bank Tower. This 35-story mixed-use tower will include retail office, hotel, and residential condominium uses, with a 342-stall underground parking garage. Standing at 460 feet tall in the full block bound by SW 10th, Washington, 9th and Alder, this milestone building will become the city’s fifth tallest structure. To make it more interesting, the building’s enclosure is the shape of a “gem” in Portland’s skyline.

Exciting changes for Portland on the horizon, or skyline rather. It will be interesting to see how the current climate impacts their trajectories. Which of these builds are you most interested in?

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