I know Corvallis is a bit "off the map" for this forum, but these two buildings are actually quite large and urbanistic by Corvallis standards....
There is a picture of the Renaissance on the Gazette-Times website. The architecture could be better, but it contributes a nice urban gesture to a small downtown. I've seen the Elements under construction, and it has a decent contemporary design.
Renaissance nearly finished
By BENNETT HALL
Gazette-Times business editor
CASEY CAMPBELL | Gazette-Times
The Renaissance on the Riverfront still has construction still going, but many shops are opening for business.
The Renaissance on the Riverfront is coming to life from the ground up as construction of the city’s biggest downtown development in many years nears completion.
Last week, Iovino’s Ristorante opened in its large and dramatic new quarters on the first floor of the seven-story mixed-use building at Southwest First Street and Washington Avenue, followed by Gabby’s, an upscale women’s boutique.
The second floor began filling up this week as the first office tenants started moving in.
The Conservation Biology Institute, a nonprofit conservation planning and assessment firm with 10 local employees, began settling into its new digs on the mezzanine level Wednesday.
“It’s a beautiful space,” said principal Jim Strittholt, taking in the view of the Willamette River from his new office. “I think we made a good decision.”
Catherine Mater — a partner in the Renaissance on the Riverfront venture along with her mother-in-law, forestry engineer Jean Mater, and technology entrepreneur Rich Carone — plans to move her forestry consulting practice into the corner office next week. That will leave one office space and one retail space left to lease.
The developers have also taken steps to meet the Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, including the use of natural ventilation and sustainably harvested wood, and are hoping to have the project LEED certified.
“The jury is still out on whether we’re going to meet all the requirements,” said Catherine Mater.
Interior finish work is continuing on the building’s 28 condominium units, which occupy the upper five stories of the brick-and-glass midrise. Carone estimates they’ll be ready for occupancy sometime in April.
“We want to wait until they’re all done before anyone moves in,” he said.
The condos range in price from $350,000 for a 900-square-foot loft on the third story to a cool $940,000 for a corner penthouse with 2,050 square feet, hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen and a view of the Benton County Courthouse with the Coast Range foothills behind.
Those prices have risen along with the project’s total price tag, initially estimated at $13.5 million when plans for the Renaissance were unveiled in 2004. A spike in materials costs has now pushed the final tally to about $22 million, Carone said.
Would-be buyers seem to be handling the sticker shock, though. The partners have received $10,000 deposits on about two-thirds of the units.
“We’ve still got seven or eight left to sell,” Carone said. “We’ve sold about 20.”
In the meantime, business is beginning to pick up for the retail tenants. Iovino’s employees report a steady trade for dinner every night, and customers are beginning to find their way to Gabby’s — including some future Renaissance residents.
“The lady who just came in and bought a sweater bought a condo,” said Gabby’s owner Joni Berry on Wednesday afternoon.
Berry, who also owns John Fox Real Estate, has stocked her 1,400-square-foot boutique with an assortment of professional and casual women’s wear, designer jeans, lingerie and accessories. She even has a small assortment of Belle Vallee wines and Belgian chocolates on hand.
While the south end of downtown is not currently a shopper’s paradise, Berry thinks that’s starting to change.
“I think it’s going to be good just because this whole part of town, this whole area, is getting developed,” she said. “There’s not a whole lot of retail, but I think it’s going to be the new area.”
Meanwhile, around the corner on Second Street, another major private development is also progressing.
The six-story Elements building is entering the homestretch of construction, but the pace has slowed lately as owner Deanna Carr pursues a high-level environmental certification for the project.
“We’re getting there,” Carr said. “The way we’re looking now, it may be July before we’re ready to open the doors.”
Carr’s “holistic healing spa,” called Elements, will take up most of the first three floors and the fourth will house professional offices.
A restaurant and bar called Strega is planned for the fifth and sixth levels. Carr described the menu as “Northwest with a twist” and said there will be extensive open-air seating and a cantilevered balcony on the fifth floor projecting over the sidewalk on Second Street. Accordion-fold glass doors on both levels can be opened or closed, depending on the weather.
“We are able to open the entire fifth and sixth floors of the building seasonally,” Carr said. “We can bring the summertime in.”
Initially budgeted for $4 million, the cost of the Elements project has now climbed to around $10 million, Carr said, reflecting both higher prices for materials and the intricacies of LEED silver certification.
Like Berry, Carr thinks the south end could be at the beginning of a development boom, especially with the Benton County Historical Society gearing up to build a new museum and possibly a mixed-use development on the block just north of her building.
“If we can really create a destination in downtown Corvallis with Riverfront Park, bring shopping and food and tourism to downtown, it could really be spectacular,” she said.