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Go Back   SkyscraperPage Forum > Regional Sections > United States > Pacific West > SSP: Local Portland > Parks, Metro, Urban Design & Heritage Issues

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  #461  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 12:03 AM
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Oregon Sustainability Center's funding and leadership fluctuates, putting project in doubt
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 4:55 PM Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 4:55 PM
By Beth Slovic, The Oregonian

Mayor Sam Adams is still pledging to build the Oregon Sustainability Center. But the $62 million project's survival has never appeared more in doubt.

And not just because the Legislature this month rejected $37 million in state funding for the project -- money that backers once called "crucial" to the green-energy showcase at Portland State University.

The project's price tag, leadership, timeline and scope are all in flux, although supporters insist that they can attract private financing and keep to a 2013-14 opening.

The seven-story building -- now funded with $17 million in city money and land, and $5 million in federal grants, tax credits and private donations -- would house businesses, environmental nonprofits, university classrooms and city offices.

"It has all the attributes of other buildings that get built commercially," said Patrick Quinton, executive director of the Portland Development Commission, the city's redevelopment agency. "Easier said than done, but we believe there are investors out there who have an interest in this building."

Private funding would come at a cost to an already expensive project, however.

Under previous terms of the deal, commercial rents at the building were expected to be as high as $40.25 a square foot, about 50 percent higher than downtown's Class A average in 2011. Nonprofit rents were expected to be $31.75 a square foot, compared with typical nonprofit rents of $20 a square foot. Also, PSU planned to spend about $1 million in tuition dollars to lease space.

Those costs would be even higher with private financing, backers told legislators in a document last August.

"Most other forms of non-public financing would exacerbate already high rents, as public financing carries a much lower rate of interest," they wrote. "The team has explored multiple options to finance this project, including private bank financing. ... In all cases, these alternative scenarios increased costs to the participants, project complexity, and risks."

The Legislature's refusal to authorize state borrowing for the project also prompted a key partner, the Oregon University System, to walk away.

"Moving to 2013 there are going to be other priorities, and the Sustainability Center is not on the list," said Jim Francesconi, an original supporter who sits on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.

That loss jeopardizes an additional $3 million in state funding that the university system had planned to contribute, meaning the project faces a $40 million funding gap. It also undermines one of the building's chief selling points -- that it holds statewide economic significance.

In addition, without state funding, it's not clear whether PSU would ever own a portion of the building; PSU has justified paying top-dollar rent early on by saying it would use the space rent-free later.

"Ownership is not essential to a project," PSU President Wim Wiewel said in a recent statement, issued through a spokesman. "It's the costs over the lifecycle of the project. And we're in the middle of exploring options with the City of Portland."

On the plus side, contractors have told the Portland City Council that they can guarantee construction costs under $62 million.

Could the city fill in the gap? It's not likely. Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the council's swing vote when it voted 3-2 in September to greenlight the center, put a condition on his support. He said the center could not tap any new funding through the city's urban-renewal districts, the city's go-to source for development projects. A spokeswoman for the mayor, Caryn Brooks, said Adams won't seek to change that.

Funding isn't the city's only hurdle. This month, the project's development director, Robert Frisbee, left after his contract expired. PDC believed his work would be done by now, said Shawn Uhlman, a PDC spokesman. And at least one of the nonprofit directors who helped launch the idea for the center in 2007 has grown weary.

Sean Penrith, executive director of the Earth Advantage Institute, said his nonprofit still wants to rent space if lease terms are manageable.

But no one from the city had looped back to him since the Legislature said no, leaving him unsure what to say about the project: "Other than that I'm exhausted."

-- Beth Slovic

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/i...y_centers.html
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  #462  
Old Posted Jun 21, 2012, 4:54 PM
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New Oregon Sustainability Center documents show Mayor Sam Adams' continued efforts to revive project: Portland City Hall roundup
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 9:37 AM Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 9:40 AM
Beth Slovic, The Oregonian

http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandc..._center_d.html

Quote:
When the 2012 Legislature rejected state funding for the Oregon Sustainability Center at Portland State University, backers at Portland City Hall vowed to find private financing to build the $62 million ultra-green high-rise.

But Mayor Sam Adams almost immediately set about exploring ways to use city money to plug the $37 million funding gap, according to new documents The Oregonian obtained in a public records request.

In fact, in an April email to PSU President Wim Wiewel, Adams proposed using $47 million in city-back bonds to seal the deal -- $30 million more than what the City Council approved last year.

The same email also said that the city would own the entire 130,000 square-foot tower.

That represents another big change. Until the Legislature in March balked at giving state money to the project, the center was to have been a joint venture between the city and the Oregon University System, meaning Portland would have owned only half.

Finally, the term sheet said that PSU would contribute $3 million to the project and commit to renting classrooms in the building for 30 years -- for more than $1 million a year.

Emails from PSU officials suggest they were pleased with that scenario. At one point, they asked Portland officials whether they could rent an even larger portion of the building, the documents show...
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  #463  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2012, 9:43 PM
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Hmmm, hopefully in the future the Oregonian can report about what the mayor's proposal for office space at Gateway is, instead of what the proposal is not.

Mayor Sam Adams proposes moving city offices to Gateway but not the Oregon Sustainability Center
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 2:28 PM Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 2:34 PM
Beth Slovic, The Oregonian

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/i..._river_default

Quote:
Mayor Sam Adams wants to move 25,000 square feet of the city's downtown office space to the Gateway Transit Center to spur development around the Northeast Portland hub.

But that space won't carry the infamous name of the Oregon Sustainability Center.

After Adams' plans to build a gleaming, green sustainability center next to Portland State University downtown tanked last spring, the mayor went back to the drawing board, pledging to revive the project. He suggested a new financial partnership with PSU that eliminated the need for additional state support, for example.

Additional documents that The Oregonian obtained in a public records request in June also showed city officials explored moving the center to Gateway, about eight miles away from downtown. But project developers feared that a Gateway version of the center -- so expensive to build that it would require rents 50 percent higher than downtown's Class A average in 2011 -- wouldn't fetch top rents.

Tuesday, Mayor Sam Adams' director of economic development, Peter Parisot, said the city isn't moving the Oregon Sustainability Center to Gateway to create the new office space the mayor wants.

The city faces other hurdles, however.

An April audit showed that the city already has 26,000 square feet of vacant space at a downtown building that it currently owns.

-- Beth Slovic; on Twitter
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  #464  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2012, 10:42 PM
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An April audit showed that the city already has 26,000 square feet of vacant space at a downtown building that it currently owns.
Uhm... what?! Unless they're talking about renting that space for a profit, this makes no sense to me.
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  #465  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2012, 2:49 AM
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Oregon Sustainability Center Lives On:

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/i..._river_default
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  #466  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2012, 3:21 AM
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Interesting development...

From the Oregonian story posted above:
Quote:
The latest version, according to Interface's proposal, could be as small as 103,000 square feet, meaning Interface would occupy about a third of the building. It would cost $47.4 million, according to city estimates, and would be backed by $34.8 million in city-issued bonds.

Rent would be $30 per square foot, considerably less than the $40.25 per square foot that the city previously estimated it would cost. The building's smaller size accounts for the difference, said Peter Parisot, Adams' director of economic development.
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  #467  
Old Posted Oct 6, 2012, 1:20 AM
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Mayor Sam Adams kills Oregon Sustainability Center project
Published: Friday, October 05, 2012, 3:25 PM Updated: Friday, October 05, 2012, 5:25 PM
By Beth Slovic, The Oregonian

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/i..._oregon_s.html

Quote:
In the end, it came down to simple math.

Friday, Mayor Sam Adams announced he was pulling the plug on his controversial Oregon Sustainability Center proposal, saying he didn't have the votes to land a deal.

"We won't be moving forward," Adams wrote in a press release.

The decision is a clear sign Adams' power is waning as his tenure comes to a close. He leaves office at the end of December after electing not to run for a second term.

For years, Adams was the ultra-green building's biggest champion. But the project hit many roadblocks. Earlier this year, for example, the Oregon Legislature blocked state bonds for the project, yanking a significant portion of its funding.

In response, Adams tried to retool the project -- shrinking its footprint and filling the funding gap with city money. Then, just last month, a private company stepped forward as a potential part-owner. Interface Engineering, however, wanted to move quickly. Meanwhile, Commissioner Nick Fish said publicly that any decision should be put off until the new mayor takes office.

In his press release, Adams said planning for the building helped several local companies hone their expertise. "Just the planning process of the OSC has created new opportunities for the city, the country and the world," he wrote.
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  #468  
Old Posted Oct 6, 2012, 3:09 AM
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Too bad. I really liked this one. I hope the new mayor revives it.
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  #469  
Old Posted Oct 6, 2012, 5:38 AM
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The decision is a clear sign Adams' power is waning as his tenure comes to a close.
One might argue that Portland's tenure as a national, even global, leader in sustainable urban design and planning is also coming to a close.
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  #470  
Old Posted Oct 6, 2012, 8:42 PM
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One might argue that Portland's tenure as a national, even global, leader in sustainable urban design and planning is also coming to a close.
I don't know if I believe that. I just think this building was a case of bad timing and I don't think it's all bad news that it isn't going to be built. It would have been quite a black eye if it had been built but couldn't find enough tenants because it would be too expensive to lease space there. And it would have been even worse if the sacrifices tenants had to make proved to be too much for most. I'd rather not have it built than have it built and serve as an example of how NOT to do this. Will companies pay a premium to rent space in an exceptionally green building? Some will. But how much of a premium will they pay and what sacrifices will they make? At one point, this building was looking like indoor temps could be too cool in the winter and potentially uncomfortably warm in the summer.

I'll admit, I was hoping to see this get built, but I was also thinking "I sure don't ever want to have to work there."

I know I'll probably get slammed for saying that, but I don't think it's all bad news.
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  #471  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2012, 3:00 AM
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I don't know if I believe that. I just think this building was a case of bad timing and I don't think it's all bad news that it isn't going to be built. It would have been quite a black eye if it had been built but couldn't find enough tenants because it would be too expensive to lease space there. And it would have been even worse if the sacrifices tenants had to make proved to be too much for most. I'd rather not have it built than have it built and serve as an example of how NOT to do this. Will companies pay a premium to rent space in an exceptionally green building? Some will. But how much of a premium will they pay and what sacrifices will they make? At one point, this building was looking like indoor temps could be too cool in the winter and potentially uncomfortably warm in the summer.

I'll admit, I was hoping to see this get built, but I was also thinking "I sure don't ever want to have to work there."

I know I'll probably get slammed for saying that, but I don't think it's all bad news.
That is a really good point, Portland really doesn't need another Portland Building mess that prevents them from pushing for sustainability in future buildings. I think the work that has been going on with the Federal Building is serving as a great example of a sustainability rehab that definitely has a positive reflection of Portland and it even makes a visible impact on the skyline.
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  #472  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2013, 1:29 AM
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Wildwood Trail Bridge

I'm pretty sure this has been mentioned somewhere.

Anyhoo, check out the videos at:

http://www.edcarpenter.net/portfolio/0109.html
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  #473  
Old Posted Feb 19, 2014, 7:37 AM
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100 Columbia.

This would have distracted a bit from the god awful Marriott.

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  #474  
Old Posted Feb 19, 2014, 8:35 AM
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Well I guess Randy can say he has left his mark on Portland.
A bit off topic, and gratuitous, but I'm so $%^&ing glad Randy $%^&ing Leonard is long gone. In his defense, at least he saved us from the oversized billboards plaguing our city three years ago, and also made sure we didn't have a warm place to sit when eating from pad thai from a cart.
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  #475  
Old Posted Feb 19, 2014, 3:40 PM
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100 Columbia.

This would have distracted a bit from the god awful Marriott.
lol! I actually kind of like the Marriott! I know, it is a bit dated, etc.
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  #476  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2014, 3:07 AM
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Montgomery blocks:





Broadway tower:

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  #477  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2014, 3:14 AM
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For the Montgomery Blocks, isn't #1 the Cyan?
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  #478  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2014, 3:18 AM
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For the Montgomery Blocks, isn't #1 the Cyan?
Yep, they only got through the first one when they realized they couldn't sell these off as condos and went for plan B which was only building the one tower and turn it into rentals. You can also see how they changed the facade of the building half way through for cheaper looking materials.
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  #479  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2014, 5:51 AM
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An early proposal for the convention center hotel from the early 90's:

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  #480  
Old Posted Feb 20, 2014, 6:25 AM
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Yep, they only got through the first one when they realized they couldn't sell these off as condos and went for plan B which was only building the one tower and turn it into rentals. You can also see how they changed the facade of the building half way through for cheaper looking materials.
as someone interested in buying a condo in downtown portland, i feel like the options are pretty limited.. I'd be happy to see some new residential towers go up for the for-sale market.
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