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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 24, 2004, 3:11 AM
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Downtown Portland News

Thanks for posting pics of the model, Mitch-e.

The Eliot Tower and The Edge and The Elizabeth (same developer) are Portland's best new residential high-rises. That is, until the elipitcal John Ross...

I'm reserving judgment on The Pinnacle, until it's done and I see what all the fuss is RE: the exterior "lighting" package.
It BETTER be good.... :o)

The Meriwether looks ho-hum, at least in the model format.
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Old Posted Dec 24, 2004, 3:42 AM
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those models look awesome. as with the meriwether, i thought the eliot looked pretty ho-hum until the models.

all this construction is awesome. but what i really can't wait for is for all the baby boomers now buying urban condos to start transitioning to nursing homes, leaving, i hope, a surplus (read: affordable prices) to those of us now in our 30's!
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Old Posted Dec 24, 2004, 3:55 AM
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Hey edirp, I'm just curious, are you an architect?
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Old Posted Dec 24, 2004, 2:52 PM
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Mitch-e,

Architect - nope.

Achitecture buff - yep.

:o)
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 25, 2004, 1:59 AM
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Wider structures OKd
Developers who want the buildings theyre constructing on the South Waterfront to go a little wider may soon get more leeway.
The Planning Commission agreed Tuesday to give the citys development guidelines some flexibility. The City Council will have final say Jan. 26.
The change arose after the developers of the 325-foot-tall John Ross condominium asked for some design latitude to reinforce the slender tower against wind and earthquakes. City guidelines limit the area of a building that tall to 10,000 square feet, but Gerding/Edlen Development Co. wants a 12,000-square-foot footprint for the planned 31-story building. That would make the buildings base several feet wider.
Neighbors just west of the South Waterfront are outraged, saying that the tall buildings there could become even heftier under more flexible guidelines.
Why should we, every time a building comes up, go down and fight the issue? asked Jerry Ward, who represents the Corbett/Terwilliger/Lair Hill Neighborhood Association.
The stakes are high for the John Ross developers.
Our alternative, if this doesnt fly, is simply to drop back to a 250-foot building and do a slab building such as you see here in the Pearl, developer Mark Edlen said of the elliptical-style structure.
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 27, 2004, 6:16 PM
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I say let them widen the base if it means keeping the current design for the building. I sure would like to see this district with more inventive buildings than are currently going up in the Pearl district.
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Old Posted Dec 28, 2004, 8:43 AM
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I think the big concern about it is from the Lair Hill area who has been screwed over time and time again.

First the neighborhood got torn apart for Ross Island ramps, South Auditorium Urban Renewal, I-5, Barbur Blvd and Naito/Front Ave. Then they had to put up with high rise towers blocking their views. Then the tram over their heads. And now wider towers.

I want to see a great South Waterfront neighborhood and the tram but at the same time I kind of feel for the Lair Hill neighborhood which has gotten really shafted.
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Old Posted Apr 11, 2005, 9:18 PM
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Meier & Frank Remodel | x | 16 floors | U/C

There was a good illustration for this article in the paper, maybe someone can scan it.

Shopping for a tenant

Sunday, April 10, 2005
The Oregonian
DYLAN RIVERA


A plan to remodel the upper floors of the downtown Meier & Frank department store into a posh hotel is winning cheers from retailers who desperately wish to see the landmark building remain a bustling anchor of the city's core.

But not all downtown businesses favor the proposal. Some hoteliers contend the project would subsidize a new rival at a time the overbuilt hospitality business is making a long-awaited recovery. Further, they say, the added rooms could undercut the viability of a hotel proposed to serve the Oregon Convention Center.

Several hoteliers suggested condominium development, setting sales-price records elsewhere downtown.

As details of the hotel plan have firmed up, public discussions have brought out more opposition.

The controversy has left the Portland Development Commission to navigate the competing interests as it tries to prevent the department store building from going vacant and dampening downtown's outlook.

PDC staffers say they are hemmed in by the very thing they are striving to preserve: the building's historical idiosyncrasies. Their options are sharply limited by constraints emanating from the building's quirky and outmoded construction as well as its transit-oriented location, they say.

As a result, the PDC finds itself reluctantly committed to a plan that won't please everyone. Its board is expected to approve the redevelopment deal this month.

"We didn't seek a hotel -- we ended up with a hotel," said Lew Bowers, a senior development manager for the PDC. "We tried everything else."

The proposal has been years in the making. The downtown store increasingly has suffered in competition with flashier suburban rivals, and civic leaders have felt obliged to help save it.

When May Department Stores Co., the St. Louis-based owner of the Meier & Frank chain, moved its 600-employee regional office from the building's upper floors to Los Angeles in 2002, the company heightened fears that it might abandon the store's 96-year-old location. Former Mayor Vera Katz renewed her charge to the PDC that it work to save the store.

A 2002 report, "Downtown Portland Retail Strategy," commissioned by the PDC and the Portland Business Alliance, affirmed her intent, saying the top priority for helping downtown retail thrive should be to ensure the store's continued operation.

Since then, the PDC has steeped itself in renovation plans at an extraordinary level of detail.

Complicating factors

A variety of developers considered renovating the Meier & Frank building, and all but one passed on it. The building's configuration makes it too awkward and expensive for condo or apartment development, said Michael O'Connell, a PDC development manager.

In the unoccupied upper floors of the Meier & Frank building, spaces are interrupted by 18-inch columns about every 20 feet. In many places, they rise from the floor close to walls.

That's not the kind of fixture you'd want in your living room, especially if you're paying $500,000 or more for a condo, O'Connell said. Even with apartments, an inappropriately placed column can hold down potential rents, he said.

Column spacing is just one of the many vexing architectural and commercial challenges of redeveloping a building constructed in 1909 and expanded twice.

"On-site parking was a huge issue for the residential developers," O'Connell said, because dwellers of high-end homes would demand parking spots in the building.

But the building is between Fifth and Sixth avenues, on the transit mall, where city rules bar construction of driveways. MAX light rail, where the city discourages driveways, runs alongside the building on Morrison Street. Any parking ramp would cut into first-floor space, the most lucrative for retailers.

"The whole thing was a spiral of expenses that don't make it pencil out," O'Connell said.

Several developers eyed the building's upper floors for condos and decided against it, said Don Mazziotti, PDC executive director. One developer considered those floors for document storage, essentially a lifeless use, he said.

"We have, over a four-year period, looked at a variety of uses with a variety of developers," Mazziotti said.

Enter Sage Hospitality

In 2002, Sage Hospitality Resources, a Denver developer specializing in urban hotel redevelopments, told the PDC it might have a solution: build a hotel.

Hotel development, PDC officials said, appeared to offer more flexibility. Hotel guests, for instance, would be less insistent on on-site parking.

In May, Sage Hospitality announced it had been awarded $72.5 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits for a project to renovate the Meier & Frank building's upper nine floors into a hotel. May announced it would use proceeds from the deal to improve and consolidate the store's retail space in the first five floors.

The credits could produce up to $22 million of the $36.1 million in cash that Sage intends to invest in the $107.3 million project. Another $13.9 million would come from low-interest loans from the PDC. Private construction financing would cover the balance of the project costs.

In February, Federated Department Stores Inc. announced it would buy May, and May officials said they expect the new owner will follow through with the hotel project.

The PDC recently has felt urgency to move forward so that significant demolition work in the upper floors can be completed before this year's holiday shopping season, Mazziotti said.

O'Connell is negotiating agreements with May and Sage. Each contract requires approval of the five-member PDC, which is expected to vote on them April 27.

Hotel market "saturated"

Downtown hoteliers said they feel conflicted.

On one hand, they want to keep Meier & Frank as a downtown drawing card. On the other, they chafe at the idea of the city subsidizing a competitor in what they see as an oversupplied market.

"The hotel market is saturated," said Chris Erickson, general manager of the downtown Paramount Hotel. With the addition of the Hilton Executive Tower in 2002 and a few small projects in the works, he said, "this might be a little bit of overkill."

Hotel operators and market observers say the downtown hotel market is recovering. But some say Sage is overly optimistic in its market forecast.

Sage says the fear of excess room supply is unfounded. The high-end downtown hotel market, it says, is poised for strong gains before its hotel could open in late 2007.

In 2004, visitors booked 825,501 room nights in the downtown's 12 fanciest hotels -- 5.7 percent more nights than in 2003, according to a report by HVS International, a consulting firm hired by Sage Hospitality. The gain of 44,543 bookings pushed occupancy to 71.5 percent, up almost 4 percentage points over the previous year. Hoteliers registered $80.94 in revenue per available room -- 6.5 percent more than in 2003.

In two years, high-end hotel occupancy could rise to 77 percent, according to HVS International. The addition of Sage Hospitality's 330 rooms would lower the occupancy rate of the 12 competing hotels by just 2 percentage points, said Ken Geist, executive vice president of Sage.

But Brad Hutton, area vice president and general manager for Hilton Hotels Corp.'s downtown property, said Sage Hospitality's forecasts are flawed.

"The overall picture of that hotel is being painted way too optimistically," Hutton said.

The recent increase in downtown occupancy mostly resulted from the Hilton's expansion, Hutton said. The expansion enabled the hotel to lure small convention business and some airline crews under long-term contracts, he said.

Sage Hospitality's hotel, which would not offer substantial meeting space, would not benefit from such business, Hutton said.

"They're going to be forced to bottom-feed as a hotel company, compared to where they believe they're going to be," Hutton said.

Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532; dylanrivera@news.oregonian.com
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2005, 5:00 AM
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2005, 3:15 PM
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^ Thanks PacificNW!
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  #11  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2005, 3:54 PM
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Decision time’s nigh for landmark

Decision time’s nigh for landmark
Meier & Frank rehab, hotel addition may get city nod May 11


It’s getting close to crunch time for the May Department Stores Co. to sign off on a development agreement with the city of Portland so the $137.3 million transformation of Meier & Frank’s landmark downtown store can begin.
The Portland Development Commission is set to approve the agreements on the project at its May 11 meeting.
Sage Hospitality Resources, the Denver company that will transform the top nine floors of the 665,000-square-foot Meier & Frank building into a Marriott Renaissance hotel, signed its development agreement in March after months of meetings with city officials.
“But we continue to work on the May Company development agreement,” said Don Mazziotti, PDC executive director. “It’s not complete, and we’re very anxious to get it before the commission.”
Mazziotti acknowledged that he’s worried that a delay could jeopardize timing on the construction project. “It has to be carefully coordinated so as not to interrupt the Christmas season. If that were to happen, there could be a cascading effect, which pushes the project into the next year, which is not desirable.”
Ken Geist, executive vice president of Sage, sounded less concerned. “We’re on the agenda for PDC approval May 11, and the plan is to have PDC get May’s agreement finished this week, then go to the board on May 11 — and away we go.”
Geist said he’d talked to May officials on Monday, “and they thought they’d wrap (the development agreement) up this week.”
May spokeswoman Sharon Bateman said she could not confirm where discussions on the agreement stand.
Plans call for May to sell the top nine floors to Sage and use the $30 million proceeds to pay for remodeling the first five floors into an updated, more upscale department store.
Demolition of the top nine floors could start in September, with reconstruction beginning February 2006; completion of both the store and the hotel is slated for the fall of 2007.
May said it intends to keep the store open for business while remodeling proceeds.
A pending merger of May with Federated Department Stores, expected to be complete in the third quarter of this year, should not hamper the project, May’s Bateman said following Federated’s Feb. 28 announcement that it was buying May in a $17 billion cash and stock-purchase transaction.
Industry watchers expect Federated, owner of Macy’s and Bloomingdales, to add some pizazz to May stores.
The Meier & Frank project is the culmination of years of negotiations with May to restore the venerable but fading flagship, a national historic landmark that is considered key to downtown Portland’s vitality.
With the construction launch so close, Mazziotti admitted he’s fretting that any delay could cause problems with escalating costs for construction materials.
If something happens to sideline the project, he said, “my opinion would be that it would probably effect a greater loss in downtown retail and the hotel marketplace than it would ever supplant or displace.”
Sage’s portion of the project qualified for $72.5 million in New Market tax credits, from a federal program that allows developers to entice investors with favorable tax treatment. The PDC is loaning $13.9 million to Sage to fund a portion of the hotel project.
All of the construction budgets for Sage, Geist said, included consideration for inflation.
“We’re in good shape; we just have to get our approval and get going here,” he said.
The new hotel, he said, should not divert attention from a planned headquarters hotel adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center. Some area hoteliers have said they’re afraid adding 330 rooms in the Marriott Renaissance hotel will hurt Portland’s already saturated hotel market, as well as damage efforts to get the convention center hotel built.
A recent report on the Portland hotel market indicated that it is well on its way to recovery after several down years.
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  #12  
Old Posted May 25, 2005, 4:06 PM
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Meier & Frank update
Wednesday, May 25, 2005

PDC will vote today on loans for renovation


The story: The Portland Development Commission has orchestrated a deal with May Department Stores Co. and hotel developer Sage Hospitality Resources Inc. to transform the Meier & Frank building on Southwest Fifth Avenue into a hotel and slimmed-down department store.

Denver-based Sage plans to buy the top 11 floors of the building from St. Louis-based May to construct a 334-room hotel. May plans $30 million in renovations to consolidate retail space into the first five floors. Update: The commission meets at 8 a.m. today at the PDC office, 222 N.W. Fifth Ave., and is scheduled to vote whether to provide the project with three low-interest loans totaling $13.9 million. What's next: Don Mazziotti, the commission's executive director, is optimistic about earning his board's approval but said he is less upbeat about the agreement's stipulation that the project's developers pay Oregon's prevailing wage to construction workers. That wage could create higher costs that neither May nor Sage may have anticipated, he said.

"The prevailing wage issue has the potential to delay the project for an indefinite period," he said, "and in turn, raise the possibility of jeopardizing the projects themselves." Learn more: http://www.pdc.us/flash-presentation...frank_pres.htm -- Laura Gunderson 503-221-8378, LauraGunderson@news.oregonian.com


August 2005 Purchase & Sale
September 2005 Demolition Begins
February 2006 Reconstruction Begins
Fall 2007 Hotel & Store Open
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  #13  
Old Posted May 25, 2005, 4:22 PM
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This is it, if PDC blows this deal I say trash the entire Association. They are beginning to become more of a hinderence to development then a help.
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  #14  
Old Posted May 25, 2005, 4:40 PM
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The inner city market is strong enough these days to support a scaled-back PDC. They spend too much money with too little return and occasionally do something worthwhile. Their political autonomy leads to a lack of accountability.
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  #15  
Old Posted May 25, 2005, 5:37 PM
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I am going to be blunt here.

They don't need a hotel. If they want that store to survive and be a anchor of downtown, THEN BRING THAT STORE BACK TO WHAT IT WAS BEFORE.

Clean it up, bring in tons of unique merchandise, make it the unique shopping spot it once was, when it attracted people state wide to come and shop.

The problem with Meier & Frank is they have turned that store into nothing but a branch style suburban store. It is downtown, but they don't continue to make it the special downtown shopping experience it once was.

And to be honest, putting a hotel ontop of it is going to do nothing, because all they are doing is reducing the store size and really making it no better then a suburban branch store.

The best way to revive Meier & Frank is to bring that store back to the way it was. Instead of downsizing, open those floors again to shopping, and make it the best, largest, most special place to shop again.

In a city with such a strong downtown like Portland, I find it hard to believe in the first place that the store is doing bad. If it is doing bad, it probably has more to do with managment. Not because shoppers are shunning downtown.

These department store chains have lost touch with what downtown department stores were like and about. Downtown department stores were more then just about shopping. But these companies today just don't get that.

They gotta make that store better then any suburban branch store around. Really make it have the best selection, unique merchandise, etc. They could do all this without any fancy hotel deal.

Lets close with a quote from the Oregon Business paper.

"YOU'D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A BUSINESS as deeply threaded into its hometown fabric as the Meier & Frank store in downtown Portland. The grand department store that came to be the place to shop for anyone within a day's drive put Portland on the map in the early 1900s.

People used to kid that there were four cities on the Pacific Coast: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Meier & Frank and Seattle," says Gerry Frank, a fourth-generation Frank who worked in the business until it was sold to St. Louis-based May Department Stores Company in 1966. ..."








Last edited by miketoronto; May 25, 2005 at 5:44 PM.
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  #16  
Old Posted May 25, 2005, 6:21 PM
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I think the PDC is successful when it sticks to the densest parts of the city like downtown, Pearl, SoWa but in lower density places they have a less than decent record.

Miketoronto: I completely agree with you but unfortunately May/Macys could care less about having a quality store they (and most large US retailers) are more focused on taking on Wal-Mart which they will fail miserably trying to do.

The store will go from 360,000 sq ft (9 floors at 40,000 sq ft per floor) to 200,000 sq ft (5 floord at 40,000 sq ft) and those numbers dont factor in the large space for elevators, escalators, stairs etc.

I am certain the "Georgian Room" restaurant and Santaland will close and not return. Although its possible the Georgian Room could reopen as the hotel restaurant but would have to be moved and rebuilt and only retain the name.

The downtown Meier & Frank store is one of the most poorly run stores I have been into (actually it is the worst). Empty shelves, shipping boxes on the sales floor, worn out appearance of the store, poor merchandise quality, damaged and dirty merchandise for sale etc. Last year they had plywood over a broken ground floor window for several weeks. I was looking for a picture frame once and all the picture frames were out of their boxes scattered on a table. Not surprisingly most of them were scratched. I found an open box with a picture on it of one I liked but I couldnt find the frame that went with the box. The only frames they had were the ones no one wanted. I still shop at the downtown M&F but I have to say it is very unpleasant and thats coming from someone who likes downtown department stores, I'm sure if I wasnt a strong fan of downtown stores I'd have given up shopping there years ago.
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Old Posted May 25, 2005, 6:51 PM
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Sure it's been poorly run, but department stores (with the exception of Nordstrom ) have been hurting for the past couple of decades with the rise of niche retailers. I think the hotel will be nice addition and the store will be able to get out of the less-profitable lines.
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Old Posted May 25, 2005, 7:05 PM
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Department stores have been falling because they don't move up with the times.

People want one stop shopping. What offers one stop shopping?

A grand downtown department store does.
There have always been niche retailers.

Department stores are falling because they are not rising up to the times, and they are not managing their downtown stores or any of their stores in a proper way.



I bought a book about the Hudson's Store in downtown Detroit. It is amazing what that store use to provide. And I ams ure Meier And Frank was the same way.

They just gotta get their act together.

I know this is weird. But maybe they need one of the guys from this forum to run that store. I bet we could shape it up in no time and have huge profits.
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Old Posted May 25, 2005, 9:27 PM
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Niche retailers are definitely more prevalant today than yesteryear. I don't agree that people want one-stop shopping, and neither does the market. If you're Meier and Frank, you sell furniture, clothes, bedding, luggage, jewelry and a whole lot more.

This means you have to compete with Crate and Barrel, the Levi's Store, Urban Outfitters, Sunglasses Hut, and other powerhouses. Plus, you have a host of smaller independent retailers that tend to be home grown and very responsive to local trends. Your marketing and buying department are going to be spread pretty thin and your store will probably have trouble keeping up with trends, and keeping the inventory fresh. This explains why a lot of department stores have had trouble cutting it. The simple criticism would be that the store ought to spend money completely renovating and reinventing itself to improve its image. But the realistic answer is that if they could afford to, they would. The state of the American Department store has been pretty dismal in recent years and has generally reflected individuals preferring to shop at niche retailers. Any marketer will tell you that.
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Old Posted May 26, 2005, 3:28 PM
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More From The Oregonian
Hotel on Meier & Frank gets boost
The PDC lends $13.9 million to the developer of a Marriott Renaissance planned atop downtown Portland's landmark
Thursday, May 26, 2005
LAURA GUNDERSON

The Portland Development Commission on Wednesday approved $13.9 million in low-interest loans for a project that will renovate the downtown Portland Meier & Frank, transforming its upper floors into a swank hotel.

After a brief presentation, the commission voted unanimously to provide Denver hotel developer Sage Hospitality Resources Inc. with three loans.

The decision caps years of PDC work to find a way to revive the historic building on Southwest Fifth Avenue at the heart of downtown Portland's retail core. Meier & Frank's parent company, May Department Stores Co., and Sage have both said they would like to begin construction early next year, but first have to reach a final sales agreement and gain city approval.

The developers say the project will cost $137.3 million -- including $107.3 million for the hotel and $30 million for department store renovations.

Though St. Louis-based May has agreed to be purchased by competitor Federated Department Stores Inc., company officials have said a change of hands should not affect the renovation plans. Stockholders for May and Federated are expected to meet separately July 13 to vote on the $11 billion buyout.

Even with the remaining hurdles, commission members expressed confidence after the vote Wednesday.

"This is a move forward for downtown Portland and the region," said Matt Hennessee, chairman of the five-member board. "This is very, very important."

The Portland Development Commission is a semi-independent city agency that manages most of the city's economic development.

This fall, Sage plans to buy floors six through 16 from May for the 334-room hotel, which it intends to open as a Marriott Renaissance in early 2008. Sage estimates the project could provide 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs over nearly four years, and ultimately, 175 hotel positions.

Portland Development Commission's loans, which will help pay for seismic and other safety improvements needed for the project, make up a little more than 10 percent of the four-star hotel project's $107.3 million price tag.

The PDC made a $3.3 million, 15-year loan to Sage that will be interest-free for the first three years and then grow to 3 percent in the fourth year, according to the contract. The loan reverts to interest-free in the 10th year with a balloon payment in the final year.

Of the $3.3 million, $500,000 will go to May, a loan the commission said it may forgive in light of the 10 management and 90 full-time equivalent jobs that are expected to remain in Portland if the department store stays open. That money is a reimbursement for May's recent purchase of a piece of land beneath the building.

The commission also made smaller low-interest loans to Sage subsidiaries, including $8.6 million to Urban Heritage Portland Hotel and $2 million to Portland Hotel Investment Fund. Urban Heritage's 25-year loan carries 3 percent interest-only payments for the first three years with 3 percent interest and principal payments beginning in the fourth year. Portland Hotel's loan carries the same terms over eight years with an added $100,000 annual principal payments starting in the fourth year.

As part of the contract, Sage also agreed to reattach the building's original terra cotta facade and has aimed to meet federal environmentally friendly building standards.

May agreed to pay $30 million to morph the building's lower third into a glossy new five-floor department store, and plans to keep Meier & Frank open through the remodel.

May officials have said the new store, which the agreement said could open in the fall of 2007, is likely to stock similar types of merchandise to those currently carried at Meier & Frank.

To brighten the sidewalks hugging the more than century-old building, plans call for short glass awnings. Designs also call for smaller retail spaces, such as a florist or coffee shop, on the main floor at Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues, where entrances once led inside Meier & Frank.

"This building is an icon for Portland," said Michael O'Connell, the commission's development manager for the project. "This is going to restore the building to its glory days."

Laura Gunderson: 503-221-8378; lauragunderson@news.oregonian.com
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