The Design Commission has approved a mixed use building at 550 SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, which would include ground floor retail, 77 residential units and 63 long stay hotel rooms. The building is being designed by Works Progress Architecture, and will rise to a height of 94’-3” and 8 stories. The hotel will operate under the same management as the neighboring Chamberlain Hotel, a historic building that is set to undergo a separate renovation. The project is being developed in collaboration by Urban Development + Partners and Beam Development. One level of underground parking would provide 39 vehicular parking spaces. 122 long term bicycle parking spaces are proposed.
The site for the proposed building is the western half of the block bound by SE Stark St, Grand Ave, Washington St and Martin Luther King Jr Ave. The eastern half of the block is located in the East Portland Grand Avenue Historic District. The 1897 Chamberlain Hotel building, located at the northeast corner of the block, is a contributing structure in the historic district. The building formerly housed Shleifer Furniture, which announced it was closing in 2015. The 1892 New Logus Block building is located at the southeast corner of the block, and is not part of the development. The New Logus Block is both a contributing resource in the district and individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site is directly across the street from the new office building proposed at 525 SE MLK.
The bar shaped building will be separated from the Chamberlain Hotel by a new landscaped courtyard. At the ground level, facing SE MLK, there will be two retail spaces, a gym and an event space. Long-stay hotel suites are proposed at levels 2, 3 and 4 and residential dwelling units are proposed at levels 5-8. Residential amenity spaces are proposed on level 8.
Materials proposed for the building include dark gray face and thin brick, white aluminum-clad metal (ACM) panels, dark bronze aluminum storefronts at ground level, and dark bronze vinyl windows above. Other materials include perforated metal panels at guardrails and mechanical screening, and black and white metal flashings.
In addition to the preferred design, two alternates were also proposed. One alternate would reduce the height of the building to 7 stories and a height of 85’-4”, enabling the building to be built with wood framing. A second alternate would elimate the basement parking garage.
550 SE MLK first went in front of the Design Commission in December 2016, at which time it was proposed as a 13 story building with a significantly different exterior skin. Following that largely positive design advice hearing the project was submitted for design review as a 14 story, 173′ tall building. Between the initial submission in January 2017 and the first design review hearing, held on November 2nd 2017, the project was re-conceived as an 8 story building.
The building was approved by the Design Commission at its second design review hearing, held on December 14th 2017, by a 4-1 vote. Commissioners Molinar, Clarke, Rodriguez, Vallaster voted in favor of the project while Commission Chair Livingston voted against. In the Final Findings And Decision By The Design Commission [PDF] the project was found to meet the approval criteria, in part due to the way it responded to the massing and materiality of its neighbors:
The project proposes several unifying elements, both unto itself, and in relation to the neighboring Chamberlain Hotel (Shleifer building). The material palette was chosen to reflect the mass, scale, and experiential qualities of the existing Chamberlain Hotel Building, with the intention to integrate the two buildings to create one harmonious composition. The proposed building’s material watermark created by
the dark brick patterning registers the scale of the 2 adjacent historic buildings, the Chamberlain Hotel Building, listed on the Historic Resource Inventory built in 1897, and located at 509 SE Grand, and the New Logus Block, an individually listed Historic Landmark built in 1892, and located at 525-535 SE Grand Ave. The base of the proposed building shares a similar height and brick material with its neighbors, while the upper stories consist of a change in cladding material and color, which responds to program and site conditions such as entrances and pedestrian connections. This approach creates a dialogue with the existing buildings and the future districts to the west of MLK.
Building permits will need to be obtained before construction can begin.