Microsoft lease is the latest sign of a Pearl District thaw
Published: Monday, October 04, 2010, 6:39 PM Updated: Monday, October 04, 2010, 6:46 PM
Jeff Manning, The Oregonian
Microsoft has leased more than 12,000 square feet of office space in the Pearl District, another slug of good real estate news for the trendy Northwest Portland neighborhood.
The Redmond, Wash., software giant on Friday finalized its lease of 12,383 square feet -- the entire 9th floor -- of the MachineWorks office building at Northwest 14th Avenue and Northrup Street
Microsoft's arrival comes six weeks after Danish wind turbine maker Vestas announced that it will build its North American headquarters in the old Meier & Frank delivery depot building at Northwest 14th Avenue and Everett Street.
A few blocks north on 14th, developer Mark Madden's WDC Properties
is building its $17.8 million Overton office building, just across the street from where he renovated a decrepit industrial building into an exhibit hall/
meeting space. Meanwhile, Walsh Construction crews are working feverishly on a $47 million affordable-housing apartment project on Northwest 14th Avenue between Northwest Quimby and Raleigh streets.
The 138-unit apartment project, led by Ed McNamara's Turtle Island Development, will host the Pearl District's first public school, likely a small elementary school, slated to open for business next September.
The new tenants and new construction work illustrates what developer Mark Madden calls "the slow thaw" of the industry following a frighteningly deep recession. No one is predicting a quick return to the glory years of the condo boom when Pearl District construction cranes seemed to outnumber the espresso shops. But increasingly companies are confident enough about the future to invest and grow.
"It was bad as recent as this summer," Madden said. "Now, the private sector has come back and started leasing again."
lease is particularly sweet news for developer Al Solheim. His MachineWorks building was completed in February 2009, near the low point of the Great Recession.
In spite of the timing, Solheim has managed to lease up the building 100 percent in 18 months, landing a series of marquee clients. "That's truly a remarkable achievement and a very hopeful sign for downtown Portland," Solheim said.
Besides Microsoft, Portland law firm Ater Wynne relocated to the building, as did Portland-based restaurant chain McCormick & Schmick's. L.A. Fitness leased the building's ground floor for one of its health clubs.
Eric Haskins and Dave Squire, commercial real estate brokers with Grubb & Ellis, represented MachineWorks.
The federal stimulus has also been a good for MachineWorks, as well as for the entire Pearl District.
MachineWorks's entire 8th floor was taken by the U.S. Indian Health Service, one of several federal agencies forced to relocate by the planned green retrofit of the Edith Green federal building.
Microsoft joins a growing cast of technology companies that have taken space in downtown or in the Pearl. Companies that in an earlier era wouldn't have thought twice about locating anywhere but the technology hotbeds of Washington County are increasingly open to locating in the Central City.
Dozens of technology startups and larger outfits like Tripwire and Jive Software have chosen downtown. Google opened its first Portland office late this summer.
For its part, Microsoft declined Monday to comment. It's unclear whether the Portland operation is a distinct business venture, an aggregation of existing Portland-area employees or a relocation of the company's existing district office at 10260 SW Greenburg Road, near the Washington Square Mall.