The one thing I'll say about this is that I wish a firm with a higher profile and better design acumen than Sera was designing the public market. I'm wishing for something more in the spirit of the Santa Caterina market
in Barcelona (which was really an addition and renovation), which I got to experience in person last fall -- bold, and reflective of that city's confidence and effervescent buzz...rather than uninspired and utilitarian, which, at first glance, is my impression of this proposal. But maybe that is all that this city is capable of.
Indoor public market proposal picked for Morrison bridgehead
POSTED: Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 01:59 PM PT
BY: Nick Bjork
For more than a decade, local consultant Ron Paul has hunted for a site where his year-round indoor public market concept could become reality. Now Paul and local development firm Melvin Mark Cos. may be close to moving forward in downtown Portland.
A Melvin Mark proposal to convert four Multnomah County-owned parcels at the foot of the Morrison Bridge into a 17-story office building and an indoor public market was recommended by a five-member expert panel convened by the county. The proposal, which was selected over a mixed-use eco-district concept pitched by Gerding Edlen, will go before the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on May 26 for final approval.
Under its proposal, Melvin Mark would pay $10.03 million for 3.1 acres of land being used by the county for surface parking. The company would then spend $120.6 million to convert one of the parcels – Block 16 – into a 17-story, class-A office building with 327,713 square feet of leasable space, and the three remaining blocks into a 110,000-square-foot indoor public market.
Four of the evaluation committee’s five members scored the Melvin Mark proposal higher than the Gerding Edlen proposal, which also listed the Goodman family, which owns City Center Parking, as a partner. In scoring for the 11 categories, which weren’t weighted and ranged in value from 0-10, Melvin Mark averaged 8.1, and Gerding Edlen averaged 7.1.
The evaluation committee included: Gale Castillo, president of the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce; John Holmes, principal with Holst Architecture; Ray Leary, principal with ERL Development; George Passadore, retired chairman of Wells Fargo in Oregon and Southwest Washington; and John Russell, principal with Russell Development Co.
Paul for years has pitched the James Beard Public Market and seen it fall through because of various circumstances. Sites discussed previously include the Federal Building at 511 N.W. Broadway and a space in Union Station.
“I’m going to let the proposal speak for itself until the county commission votes on it,” Paul said. “But I will say that we’re very encouraged and excited that the county’s appraisal team agreed with us that the public market concept meshed well with the goals of the county for the site.”
The Melvin Mark proposal received 83 percent of available points, and Gerding Edlen received 74.2 percent. According to score sheets, the biggest differences were in purchase price and design.
Melvin Mark would pay $10.03 million for the property; Gerding Edlen would pay $8.2 million. The property was appraised at $8.83 million in 2005.
Of the 30 available points awarded for design, Melvin Mark received 26.7 and Gerding Edlen received 18.4. Melvin Mark has and would continue to rely on local firm SERA Architects for the project. Other consultants that have contributed to Melvin Mark’s effort include local firms Mayer/Reed for landscape architecture, KPFF Consulting Engineers for structural engineering and ECONorthwest for economic consulting.
But as county spokesman David Austin pointed out, the evaluation committee does not have the final say; ultimately, the county commission will determine whether the Melvin Mark proposal will move forward. Austin said the commission could ask for a retooled proposal from Melvin Mark, choose to discuss the Gerding Edlen proposal or issue an entirely new request for proposals.
“Like I said, we are very encouraged, but this is only one step in the long process of actually getting something built and people in the market,” Paul said.
Melvin Mark has been in discussions with Paul since 2008, according to Dan Petrusich, president of the firm’s development wing.
“We’re just thrilled to be part of this process and have it moving forward,” he said. “Ron’s tenacity and vision for this project are remarkable, and we hope it can come to light.”
Mark Edlen, co-founder and CEO of Gerding Edlen, said the public market is a good concept, which he plans to support if the county ultimately moves in that direction.
“I would expect the committee recommendation will carry a lot of weight with the county,” Edlen said. “If they decide to go forward with it, I will be one of the first in line to contribute to the public market, which I think is a great idea.”
If the county commission were to select the Melvin Mark proposal, a Disposition and Development Agreement process would start. The DDA would outline site acquisition and how construction would proceed.
If a DDA were signed, Melvin Mark officials anticipate development and construction requiring approximately five years. The company would simultaneously look for office tenants and start a public campaign to secure funding for the market, which would be operated as a nonprofit.