Construction is underway on the Ella, a 199 unit apartment building by Texas based developer Alamo Manhattan. The design of the project on South Waterfront Block 43 is by Texas based Hensley Lamkin Rachel Inc, with assistance from local architects SERA. An underground garage, accessed from SW Abernethy St, will provide parking for 196 vehicles. The building will have one retail space, a 1,470 sq ft unit at the corner of SW Moody Ave and SW Abernethy St. Ground floor amenity spaces for the residents have been designed so that they can potentially be converted to retail in the future.
The site at 0601 SW Abernethy St previously had a single story warehouse located on it, built in 1957 for the Portland Felt Company. The concrete building was last occupied by a teak furniture warehouse.
The primary exterior materials will stucco, brick veneer and burnished block. White vinyl windows and doors will be used for the residential units, with bronzed aluminum storefront windows used at the ground floor. Wood tongue-and-groove siding will be used at the recesses for the balconies and stoops.
The six story building will be arranged in a U shape, with a courtyard facing onto SW Bond Ave. The courtyard will include stormwater planters, and landscaping designed by Studio Outside. The residents will also have access to a rooftop amenity deck.
The project was approved through a Type III Design Review in June 2013. In the conclusion to the Final Findings and Decision of the Design Commission [PDF] it was found that the project will “fill a void in the urban pattern”:
The proposed 6-story building will serve to fill a void in the urban pattern, as the existing building no longer fits with the neighborhood that has grown up around it. When completed, the proposed building will strengthen the commercial spine of South Waterfront and act as a polite fabric building in the larger context of the neighborhood. The proposed building is one of quality materials and traditional form, complemented with areas for passive outdoor recreation that will activate the interior courtyard, the façades, and the rooftop deck.
Was all of the mid-rise development on the southern half of SoWa part of the plan and vision for the neighborhood?
As I pass through, it looks as if the developers just gave up on the glass+Steel towers and said ‘screw it, lets just build wood framed midrise and get this over with.’
To support this idea, here’s a rendering of the ‘proposed skyline’:
The zoning on the site allows for a high rise structure, and early conceptual images for the South Waterfront build out showed a tower on that site. Obviously the recession put a halt to any more high rises, some of which even got through Design Review. Now that we’re in a much stronger economy it’s interesting/curious that there are 20+ story buildings under construction in Downtown, the Pearl, the Lloyd and the Central Eastside, but that no one is proposing high rise residential in South Waterfront.
This building would fit perfectly into the Pearl District or on the Conway Property site. In South Waterfront, not so much. This is the part of town where we should be building towers and pushing the envelope in terms of modern design.
Couldn’t agree more. Good Urban Design is created out of respect for prevailing typologies. One wonders if we are “stepping down” to I-5? The low-rise building under construction next to the Atwater thumbs its nose at the towers that defined the idea of South Waterfront as a distinctive place from other parts of Portland. SOWA is likely to always feel “planned” but we should at least get a pleasingly consistent result. In the Pearl we are getting “sore thumb” development where height and massing are dictated by pro forma spreadsheets and not context creating blank party wall elevations looming over low rise buildings. We see developers taking quarter blocks and pushing the program to the limit with buildings sticking out with the only logical conclusion that most low-rise buildings will be gone in a few years. Contrast the sterile North Pearl with the older more textually diverse South Pearl and you will see what is at stake. It is ironic that we are losing low-rise in the Pearl and yet the one place in Portland where tall towers are encouraged is getting more low-rise.
Construction on this building is finished.