Condos - Joe Weston envisions his 28-story skinny tower as a step toward enlivening the district
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Joe Weston, the developer who first stamped the point tower into Portland's skyline, wants to introduce the first skinny high-rise to the Lloyd District.
The Portland Development Commission, the city's urban renewal agency, will vote today on a deal to sell Weston a grassy lot sandwiched between a Denny's restaurant and budget motels for $2.4 million.
City leaders hope the 28-story, 325-foot tall Cosmopolitan Tower would infuse a little big-city vibe into an otherwise stale, suburban-brand street.
The city, TriMet and Metro have invested tens of millions of dollars into the Lloyd District the past 20 years. But they have yet to reach their goal of a tourist and convention hot spot in the mold of the Pearl District. The sidewalks along Grand Avenue are empty most nights, and the property is dominated by parking lots.
Weston sees that changing.
"It's dead now, but you're building into something," he said.
Weston, 69, made his millions building eastside apartments aimed at blue-collar workers. In recent years, he's been the juice behind the Pearl District. And next up, Weston's focus is the eastside and point towers.
He refers to the Lloyd Center Mall's recent makeover and the apartment-to-condo craze in the area as proof of change. "There's a sense of ownership," Weston said. "It's not a transient community.
"Your spendable income has come up considerably."
So much so that Weston sees a market for Pearl-like condos.
The Cosmopolitan's design would mirror Weston's Benson Tower at Southwest Jefferson Street and 10th Avenue, Portland's first point tower. The Benson covers 26 stories with just a 6,300-square-foot footprint. Towers in the old days might have covered 20,000 square feet, and today's Pearl projects run as much as 12,000 square feet.
Weston said the narrow towers create better views, more sunlight and more open space. He said he is convinced it's the way the city should go.
The Benson is 80 percent sold and still under construction. Weston is scheduled to break ground on The Manhattan, his second point tower at Southwest 14th Avenue and Alder Street, late this year. The Cosmopolitan would start in 2009.
The Cosmopolitan would be in a prime spot, next to the MAX tracks and the future streetcar loop.
The city paid $1.4 million for the land in 2000 after another developer, Enterprise Grand LLC, couldn't find money to pay for a planned condo tower.
The city sought developers interested in buying the site in 2006. Weston was the only one to step up.
Under the deal, Weston would agree to build about 200 condos. About 20 would be reserved for people who earn no more than 120 percent of the Portland region's median family income. That means a single person who makes $56,000 could get a studio condo for about $200,000.
The sale price, $2.4 million, is based on a January appraisal by PGP Valuation that put the land's market value at $2.3 million to $2.5 million.
For more on The Cosmopolitan, visit The Oregonian's City Hall blog at blog.oregonlive.com/portlandcityhall/. Ryan Frank: 503-221-8564; firstname.lastname@example.org