By Don MacGillivray

Anyone crossing Burnside bridge can’t help but notice dramatic changes in the previously vacant blocks of the Burnside Bridgehead, the cornerstone project of the Eastside Urban Renewal District and managed by the Portland Development Commission (PDC).
It is becoming a showcase for new architectural styles that are changing the rules for Portland’s usual politeness. Nevertheless they are receiving rave reviews.
The “Yard” building in Block 67 is now a very noticeable structure of an unusual shape at NE 2nd and Burnside. It will be the first major new building as one crosses the Burnside Bridge from west to east.
aLobby_Night_FNLThis building will be an iconic gateway structure to the Central Eastside Industrial District(CEID) and will top out at 21 stories, 206 feet in height.
Formed in a parallelogram with a wedge shape that gives it the appearance of being very narrow as seen from SE, it is made of glass and steel with metal panel windows with angled metal and glass panels reflecting sunlight in unique directions throughout the day.
Built by Bend developer Jeff Pickardt of Key Development and Skylab Architecture, this $85 million project has a 16 story residential tower with 275 apartments (with 20% affordable to those making 60% of the median family income or lower).
Studio apartments will make up 42% of the residential area and 45% will have one bedroom, and 13% two bedrooms.
The five story pedestal base will contain 21,000 square feet of retail stores and work space and there will be parking for 200 cars, 450 parking spaces for bicycles.
When reviewed by the Design Commission as required by all new buildings in the CEID it received praise as being creative and a future icon of Portland’s Eastside.
Block 76 at 333 E. Burnside is known as the “Dumbbell” because of it’s two six story cubes joined by a small connecting sky-bridge in such a way that is resembles a dumbbell. Its designer is architect Kevin Cavenaugh of Guerrilla Development
The skin of the buildings will be an abstract botanical pattern similar in design to an enlarged floral wallpaper. The exterior walls will be slanted slightly so that each floor is somewhat more spacious than the one below it.
The buildings will contain 30,000 square feet of creative office space, 5,500 square feet of retail commercial space intended to meet needs of surrounding area, and 24 parking spaces. About $4.5 million of the projects funding was raised though investments from 1,300 people by the crowd funding website, Fundrise.
On Block 75, the new building is known as “The Slate”. It will be a live-work project for the younger generation with 75 apartments on the upper six floors, 30,000 square feet of creative office-work space on floors two through four, 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail and parking for 38 automobiles.
It is being built by the Works Partnership Architecture, Urban Development + Partners, and Beam Development.
The Eastside Exchange on Block 68 was once the Convention Center Plaza Building. It is now the site of a five-story building with flexible work-spaces for software, green technology, and light manufacturing firms. The building was renovated and re-purposed by Beam Development over the past few years and is now fully occupied and very successful.
At 419 E. Burnside the “Trinsic Building” will be across the street from Wentworth Subaru. A six story L-shaped apartment building of live-work spaces containing 140 apartments, 2,500 square feet of retail, and parking for 30 cars, it is being developed by Jack Paauw and the Myhre Architectural Group.
It is perhaps the most conventional of the new projects. that will fit into the industrial nature of the district. There will be a green roof with a community patio, a garden, and several private terraces.
The Burnside Bridgehead is perhaps the most important project of the East Side Urban Renewal Area (URA).
URA began in 1986 and in 1999, the strategic plan for the Burnside Bridgehead was adopted. Clearing and site work was accomplished including the removal of Baloney Joe’s, perhaps the best known homeless shelter in Portland at that time.
The four blocks that make up the Burnside Bridgehead were purchased for something over $11 million, and construction is now well underway on the first two new buildings.
In 2004 and 2005 there were many heated community discussions about the plans for the Burnside Bridgehead. There was to be one primary developer for the property and a big box retail was thought to be needed anchor store for the development to be successful.
It was learned about a year ago through a survey of current and proposed buildings in the CEID that there are approximately 2,000 apartment units either planned or completed in the CEID.
This will just about double the inventory of housing units that were in the district a few years ago and many more are in the planning stages.
These new buildings will be quite a contrast to century old buildings in the East Portland Grand Avenue Historic Distinct that begins only one block away at Ankeny.
These buildings are just the beginning of the new development in the CEID. There are well over a dozen other construction projects that are planned or underway in the area.