This is an updated version of a post originally published on July 13th 2016.
Construction is underway on a 21 story tower designed by Bora Architects for Hoyt Street Properties. The 246′ tall Block 20 tower will include 143 residential units, offered for sale as condominium units. Flex retail / office spaces will be located at the ground level, facing NW 11th, Pettygrove and 12th. 168 car parking spaces and 229 bike parking spaces will be provided.
Block 20 was the first condominium tower to go in front of the Design Commission for almost a full three years. The most recent major condominium project in Portland prior to Block 20 was the Cosmopolitan on the Park, by the same developer and architect. The Cosmopolitan was approved by the Design Commission in July 2013, and was completed in 2016.
The project site is a full block site in the North Pearl, on the site of the former Hoyt Street Railway yards. The site bound by NW 11th Ave, Pettygrove St, 12th Ave and Quimby St, and is directly to the west of The Fields Park. One block to the south of the proposed building is the recently completed Block 17 Apartments.
The building is arranged as a full block podium structure, of four to five stories in height. The podium contains the above grade structured parking for the building, which is buried in the interior of the block and is entirely wrapped by residential or retail uses. The tower occupies the northeast corner of the block, and rises from the sixth level to the twenty first level. At 246′ tall, the tower exceeds the 225′ maximum height established for the western half of the block. This is allowed through a provision in the zoning code, unique to the Pearl north of Lovejoy, that allows towers of unlimited height when the floorplates above 100’ are 12,500 sq ft or less in area.
The primary materials for the building are Equitone glass fiber reinforced concrete panels at the north and south elevations, and stucco in two shades of grey at the recessed balconies on the east and west elevations. Other materials planned include glass guardrails, curtain wall glazing, aluminum storefront, aluminum windows, as well as custom perforated metal garage doors and façade panels.
At the fifth floor the building will include a landscaped roof terrace, for the use of building residents. A planted ecoroof will be created at the sixth floor, over the podium structure.
Block 20 had its first hearing before the Design Commission on June 2nd 2016, at which time concerns were expressed about the ground level of the building. In response, the applicants introduced the ground level flex retail units, and significantly increased the amount of glazing at the street level. Other changes made included increasing the amount of contrast between the light and medium grey stucco at the balconies. At the project’s second Design Review hearing, held on June 30th, the Design Commission unanimously voted to adopt the Staff Report [PDF] and approve Block 20. Before casting his vote, Commissioner Vallaster praised both the building in general, and the changes made since the first hearing:
I think it’s much improved. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s transitioned from the prior meeting, particularly on the ground floor. They’ve added a tremendous amount of glass, and potentially a lot of activity on the ground floor. Which is what we were asking for. They’ve satisfied those requirements. The building itself remains a very strong building. I can certainly support it the way it is.
Construction on the tower began in November 2016 after a foundation permit for the project was issued.
Initially this project had very little retail or active uses on the ground floor. After the neighborhood and the Design Commission pushed they added it. Now I hear they are requesting a reduction in that requirement. I understand the challenge of retail especially in places not yet fully realized in density and traffic, but this site is special as it fronts Fields Park. This is not merely an amenity for the adjacent towers but a citywide resource. Public spaces are much more successful when their edges are activated properly. Granted these spaces may not be leased immediately but if we allow what most likely will be frequently empty second homes that crucial activation will never happen. This is too important a public space not to get right. I hope the Design Commission will agree.
Spot-on David. Couldn’t agree with you more!