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Preparing to build near bridgehead

Daily Journal of Commerce

December 8th 2014

The design for a new mixed-use building near the Burnside Bridge's east end calls for construction of an arcade along East Burnside Street (Myhre Group Architects). Myhre Group is also handling the land-use entitlements and managing the design review process for the new 16-story Hilton hotel in downtown Portland for Atlanta-based HC Architects.

Plans for a new mixed-use development in the Burnside Bridgehead area last week gained unanimous approval from the Portland Design Commission.

Construction of the six-story building designed by Portland-based Myhre Group Architects and developed by Seattle office of Trinsic Residential Group could start as soon as March 2015, according to the project team. A general contractor has not yet been hired.

The development at 419 E. Burnside St. will have 153 residential units, three live-work units, ground-floor retail space, an eco-roof with shared and private rooftop terraces, below-grade parking for 50 motor vehicles and 240 long-term spots for bicycles. A ground-floor "bike lounge" will hold couches, lockers, bike repair tools and a foosball table. Also, an arcade over the sidewalk will run the length of Burnside Street; it was inspired by a 1932 photograph of a building with a prominent arcade that once stood on the project site.

The project was the only one to gain the commission's approval during a meeting Thursday. Following a lengthy hearing for the Tess O'Brien Apartments in Northwest Portland, commissioners asked the FFA Architecture and Interiors design team to return on Dec. 18 with further revisions. Also, commissioners offered design advice for a new Hilton hotel in downtown Portland and a renovation of the former Oregon Casket Co. building in Old Town Chinatown.

Before approving the design for the 419 E. Burnside St. project, commissioners said they were pleased with revisions made since a previous hearing in September.

"This is the biggest jump I've ever seen with a project in a positive way," Commissioner Ben Kaiser told the Myhre Group design team.

Commissioner David Wark praised the decision to include the ground-floor bike lounge.

"We haven't seen that before," he said. "This (project) has come light years. I think it's sophisticated in many ways. (The arcade) does make a very unique first floor in our city."

The idea behind the bike lounge is to perpetuate the message that the building is bike-friendly and supports car-free living, Myhre Group principal Bob Boileau said.

"You can't call it a man cave; it's a bike cave," he said. "It's going to be a visible area that we want to publicize."

While commissioners reacted positively overall to the Myhre Group design, they expressed a few lingering reservations with FFA Architecture's design for the Tess O'Brien Apartments. The design team returned Thursday with revisions in response to Design Commission feedback given at a hearing last month.

Plans for the Tess O'Brien Apartments call for two six-story buildings with a total of 126 residential units. A large courtyard proposed between the two buildings would contain outdoor seating areas, stormwater planters and bike storage.

Several commissioners criticized the design for using too many different materials on the facade, including brick, precast stone window headers and stucco sidewalls. Commissioner Jeff Simpson said he preferred a previous design that didn't include stucco.

"The earlier version is a lot clearer," he said.

After design review hearings for the Tess O' Brien Apartments and 419 E. Burnside St. project commissioners offered design advice for the planned Hilton hotel and Oregon Casket Co. building renovation.

Atlanta-based HC Architecture is designing the Hilton Curio, a new 16-story, 300-room hotel on a half-block site at Southwest Second Avenue between Jefferson and Columbia streets. The planned amenities include a ground-floor market and restaurant, second-floor conference spaces and a rooftop restaurant and lounge with outdoor terraces.

Portland-based SERA Architects' design for a renovation to the 117-year-old Oregon Casket Co. building at 403 N.W. Fifth Ave. includes exterior alternations, a penthouse addition and new five-story wing north of the existing building. Mike Menashe of Oregon Casket LLC bought the property 13 years ago and plans to rename the finished product the Whidden & Lewis Building in honor of its original architects.