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40 market-rate condos planned for Portland's West End

Daily Journal of Commerce

April 27th 2001

A Victoria-based developer plans an eight-story downtown condominium project that a company representative says could be just the beginning of further development in Portland's West End.

Pending approval from the city are Mosaic Properties Inc.'s plans for 40 market rate, one- and two-story lofts at 1400 S.W. 11th Ave. - the block immediately south of where Safeway plans to build a new 44,000-square-foot supermarket. Units would range from 500 to 1,100 square feet and be priced from about $120,000 to roughly $350,000.

"The vision is to provide very stylish jewel box suites, ranging from studios to about a two-bedroom equivalent," said Gene Miller, a development planner representing Mosaic Properties.

Miller said the development is the company's first foray into Portland.

"The building is a toe in the water in the West End," he said, adding, "if everything goes as we hope it will, we will be looking for other development opportunities."

A hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, at 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave., Room 2500A by the Office of Planning and Development Review.

The eight-story building will be in the Vancouver, B.C. style of architecture, distinguished, in part, by the use of a concrete structural system with floor-to-floor exterior glass and open loft spaces, said Jeff Myhre, principal at Myhre Group Architects,
which is working with Jan Zak, a Victoria, B.C. architect, on the project.

The only other project team member selected so far is the Victoria, B.C. structural engineering firm of Read Jones Christoffersen.

"I think what you could say that makes this different is an attempt to create something vibrant, exciting and fun through the use of different materials, exciting colors on the exterior, interior and materials," Myhre said.

Covering the base of the building will be a combination of concrete, glass and metal panels, interspersed with colorful tiles, thus tying in with the "Mosaic" theme. "The goal is to add some real excitement and interest at the pedestrian level," Myhre said.

Inside, concrete ceilings and columns will be exposed. Offsetting that will be distinctive lighting fixtures and patterned carpeting in vibrant colors, he said.

Mosaic plans six townhouse-style condominiums on the first two floors, 18 condominiums on floors two through four, and 16 two-story condominiums on floors five through eight, according to the proposal before the city.

There won't be any parking.

"We feel the people who are going to be living here are transit-oriented, so we think they will be utilizing the trolley (Portland Streetcar, to run on 11th Avenue when it opens this summer) and the transit system of Portland and walking around a lot," Myhre said.

He added that bike racks would be provided.

"There is no question it is an effective use of space," Miller said in reference to the compact overall size of the building.

"It is appropriate for central-city living - we are not in an area of monstrous homes" he said.

The 33,000-square-foot structure will be on a 4,875-square-foot lot, site of the former Beaver Engraving Co., that since has been demolished. The developers get an allowance under city code to build more floor area than otherwise allowed in exchange for installing an environmentally compatible roof, Myhre said.

Myhre said with the open-space feature of the condominiums, areas are defined not by walls and doors but by how residents place their furniture.

Miller said Mosaic Properties Inc. first came to Portland a little more than a year ago in search of development opportunities.

"We were specifically looking at Portland because word had certainly reached us that Portland's downtown was in the midst of a continuing renaissance, that the central city housing market was strong, and that the economy was strong," he said.

Once in town, "we zeroed in on the West End," he added. "It has an exemplary downtown neighborhood. It had the Park Blocks, a fabulous cultural infrastructure, a supermarket."

Safeway, on Jefferson between 10th and 11th avenues, is the only supermarket in the area.

The development site is next to the Old Church, a wooden Victorian building currently privately owned and used for weddings and other gatherings.

Miller said the developers are aiming to break ground on the Mosaic this summer, with construction to take about a year.
Partners in Mosaic Properties are developers Don Charity and A. Fraser McColl, both of Victoria.

Myhre architects specializes in high-density housing, hospitality and resort development.