A four-building apartment complex along NW Front Ave is nearing completion. The Waterline Apartments will include 243 residential units and below-grade structured parking for 236 cars. The project design is by Leeb Architects for Las Vegas based developer Fore Property Company.
The site, seen below in 2012, was previously vacant land. It is located on lots 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the Riverscape development, which was formerly the Port of Portland Terminal One South site. The site is bound by NW Front Ave, NW 18th Ave, NW Riverscape St and NW 18th Ave, and is bisected by NW 17th Ave.
The four buildings have an A/B/B/A rhythm. Though not identical, the inner two buildings on Lots 10 and 11 have a common design language, as do the outer two buildings on Lots 9 and 12. The inner two buildings use a warm grey brick and wood-colored shingle plank siding as their primary materials. Arched windows are set into the brick at the ground level. The outer two buildings use red brick, fiber cement panel and ribbed metal panel as their primary materials.
The project was approved through a Type III Design Review in April 2013. The conclusion to the Final Findings And Decision By The Design Commission [PDF] noted that the project had gone through a number of design changes in response to Design Commission and neighborhood feedback. Eight design related conditions of approval were added in order for the project to meet the Approval Criteria:
The applicant has proposed a series of four new apartment buildings on the two remaining unbuilt blocks of the Riverscape Subdivision. The buildings have been designed with materials, coloring, and landscaping to integrate with the adjacent Riverscape Townhomes to the east. The project has been well considered within the Riverscape context, and will provide two new public courtyards between the buildings that visually and functionally connect to the river one block away. In order to comply with the spirit of the greenway regulations, an optional condition of approval will encourage, but not require, the substitution of non-native plants with native plants to improve wildlife habitat near the river.
The project is using the Percent for Art Floor Area Ratio bonus option. The design of the public art itself has not yet been determined, and is not subject to Design Review. In order to allow some minor site changes as the artist works with the architect and landscape architect to locate the art on the site, a condition of approval has been applied to facilitate minor changes to the site plan that still achieve the original design intent.
The applicant has made significant changes in response to Design Commission and neighborhood feedback. The two interior buildings have been completely re-designed to be more distinct from the two outside buildings, a dock treatment has been provided along NW Front Avenue, and the building placement has moved towards the side streets, creating significantly larger pocket parks mid-block. At the final hearing, Design Commission offered eight specific design-related conditions of approval in order to approve the project, responding to specific approvability concerns from Commissioners, and the desire of the applicant to avoid another re-design and subsequent hearing. With these significant changes and conditions of approval, the proposal is able to meet the relevant guidelines and should be approved.
The approval by the Design Commission was appealed to the City Council by the Northwest District Association. At Waterline Northwest did surrender when the City Council voted 5-0 to deny the appeal and uphold the approval. Building permits for the project were issued in February 2014. The Waterline Apartments are currently leasing.
There’s only so much design review can do to improve a building but this is sad. It looks like there wasn’t even an effort at good design. Land in this part of town near the river should demand high quality architecture. This does nothing to speak to the place or time that it was built. It’s generic, cheap and has no personality. This looks like it was from 1992 and features Leeb’s signature arbitrary arches.