Burnside Bridgehead a go
Business Journal staff writer - Portland Business Journal
After years of false starts, the Burnside Bridgehead project is headed for the launch pad.
Cascade Energy Inc., a fast-growing energy consultant, sparked the long-awaited redevelopment project by signing a lease for 25,000 square feet of office space at Convention Plaza with Beam Development, the Portland Development Commission’s partner on the project to remake the eastern end of the Burnside Bridge.
Convention Plaza is the centerpiece of the multiblock project.
Brad Malsin, president of Beam Development, said the lease pushes the project above the 30 percent pre-leasing requirement it needs to secure $16 million in financing to remodel the plaza. Beam has signed letters of intent with several small software firms, but has not yet completed other leases.
Convention Plaza, an empty 96,000-square-foot office building, will get a LEED Gold makeover and seismic update in time to welcome Cascade Energy and others by spring 2013.
Dan Brown, vice president for Cascade Energy, said Convention Plaza is perfectly suited to accommodate a company that has outgrown two offices on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
It will take the fifth floor and a planned penthouse level. It could expand to 50,000 square feet in the future.
Cascade has about 80 employees, with 55 centered in Portland.
“It will be a really nice headquarters building for us,” he said.
Cascade Energy manages energy efficiency programs for organizations such as Energy Trust of Oregon , the Bonneville Power Administration and Pacific Power. It focuses on industrial customers as warehouses and distribution centers for operators such as Kroger Co. and Sysco.
It’s been a long time coming for the Burnside Bridgehead and the city officials who long dreamed of redeveloping underused sites on the eastern banks of the Willamette River.
In 2004, the Portland Development Commission signed a development agreement with now-defunct Opus Northwest for a $260 million project to install offices, condominiums and other buildings at the property.
Opus, it reasoned, had the resources to secure anchor tenants and get the project started. The recession hit, Opus failed and the development agreement expired in 2008.
That set the stage for Portland-based Beam Development, known for office projects in dilapidated warehouses, to make the Burnside Bridgehead a centerpiece of its portfolio.
It convinced PDC to preserve Convention Plaza as an office for high value industries like the cleantech sector.
Malsin said the firm is negotiating with two prospective lenders, Wells Fargo NA and Bank of the Cascades.
The PDC committed the value of the property to the deal, estimated at $2.3 million. Beam can “earn down” the PDC loan by hitting goals regarding leasing to cleantech firms.
Works Partnership Architecture LLP is designing the Convention Plaza remodel. Other partners include Lango Hansen Landscape Architects PC and DCI Engineers.