Big City Lights

These 4 Giant Apartment Buildings Will Change Downtown Living in Portland

Our city's skyline is rising.

By Marty Patail September 13, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Portland Monthly

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A rendering of the Collective on 4th

A fact for all you rock dwellers: Portland is rising. The city and surrounding communities will add 4,802 new apartment units this year, and this particular breed of growth shows no signs of stopping. Your visceral traffic panic is noted (and approved). But there’s good news to be found in all the construction cranes: rent growth in Portland is slowing, and density is increasing. These four, big city–scale apartment projects could change downtown living forever. 

The Collective on 4th (planned 2019)

1818 SW Fourth Ave
: Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture
Floors: 15
Units: 417 (100% at market rate) 
Status: Under construction

Designed by Chicago-based Hartshorne Plunkard, this project broke ground this summer, after nearly a year and a half of back and forth with Portland’s Design Review board on the best way to integrate it into downtown’s South Auditorium area, home to the historic “sequence” of parks, plazas, and fountains designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin in the 1960s. The final design rises to 163 feet on the side facing the street, but shrinks to a more human-size scale near the back of the building, creating a terracing effect over the adjacent Pettygrove Park. More to the point, the Collective will bring hundreds of new residential units to one of the sleepier areas of downtown, currently a mix of Portland State dorms, 1970s-era condo towers, plazas, and corporate office buildings. Chicago’s Core Spaces, the project’s developer, also sees the building’s yet-unclaimed retail space as a future draw. According to Core executive vice president  of development Chad Matesi, the firm has been “aggressively pursuing” a grocery tenant to occupy the 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space—a boon to neighborhood residents still mostly reliant on SW 10th Avenue’s infamous (though rebuilt and somewhat improved) “Psycho Safeway.”

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A rendering of 1430 NW Glisan

1430 NW Glisan (2019)

1430 NW Glisan St
Architect: Ankrom Moisan
Floors: 16
Units: 230 (80% at market rate, 20% affordable housing)
Status: Under construction

Within stumbling distance of 10 Barrel Brewing’s always-packed outpost—not to mention the rest of the Pearl brewery bloc that includes Rogue, Deschutes, Fat Head’s, and Back Pedal—Ankrom Moisan designed 230 crash pads on the site of an old strip mall. The tallest building along the Interstate 405 corridor (zoning limits in this area won’t allow anything much higher, for now), the yet-unnamed structure will have four levels of underground parking—with 300 bike parking spaces and a dog wash. A rooftop deck with fire pits and BBQs will wrap partway around the building, allowing south- and west-facing views of the cityscape. Across the street, the building’s owners are adding a green “parklet” on top of an old car lot, with electrical hookups for food carts. As for neighbors, there will be plenty. Next to the parklet, Sera Architects’ 12-story, 291-unit Modera Glisan will come online in 2020.

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A rendering of Block 33

Block 33 (2020)

125 NW Fourth Ave
William Kaven Architecture
Floors: 10
Units: 167 (80% at market rate)
Status: Design review

Type “Portland, Oregon” in Google Maps, says William Kaven Architecture cofounder Daniel Kaven, and the pin drops about 300 feet from the site of massive Block 33, now just a parking lot. “It’s Portland proper,” he says. “I see more tourists in that area than any other part of town. You can literally see people walking around with maps in their hands.” For the past three years, Kaven has pressed the city to approve his 125-foot-high design for a mixed-use Old Town anchor. (Until that happens, expected next year as part of a 2035 plan, the block is zoned for 100 feet.) Located across the street from the iconic “Hung Far Low” sign, Block 33’s U-shaped design mixes the new with the old without “kitsch”—think glass and aluminum on top, brick on the bottom. According to Kaven, the new residences and office space will finally bridge the adjacent hoods of Old Town and the Pearl, divided physically and psychologically by NW Broadway. “I believe Old Town-Chinatown will be the epicenter of Portland in the next 10 years,” Kaven says. “It just has all of the elements that make for a great urban neighborhood: old and new buildings, socioeconomic diversity. It’s going to have a lot of things that make it cool.”

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A rendering of Eleven West, planned as a sister building to the windmill-topped Twelve West a block down SW Washington Street

Eleven West (2020)

1102 SW Washington St
Architect: ZGF
Floors: 24
Units: 225 (100% at market rate)
Status: Design review

The final piece of downtown’s schmancy West End may very well be Eleven West, a sister to the 22-story Twelve West across the street. ZGF’s dark bronze design will occupy a former parking lot and grassy field, drawing inspiration from buildings in Tokyo like Frank Lloyd Wright’s old Imperial Hotel. “We think the dark bronze is really rich. When the light hits it, it gives you all different shades,” says the lot’s owner Greg Goodman. An outdoor swimming pool extrudes from the eighth floor, 120 feet above street level, and the decked rooftop with a chef’s kitchen will be accessible to residents year-round. One design challenge: to preserve a view of artist Faith47’s singular Capax Infiniti mural on the brick wall of the adjacent building, designers made a concave change to Eleven West’s façade.

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