By Don MacGillivray

At no time in recorded history has there been the level building activity in the Central Eastside Industrial Area as is currently happening.

While the industrial and warehousing uses remain intact, arterial streets are becoming more and more the location for large new commercial and residential buildings.

In the following paragraphs are a few of the major additions to the area. The variety of uses, the central location, and its relation to downtown Portland will help to make these new buildings successful.

The area may even surpass the Pearl District and the South Waterfront District for popularity and prosperity.

Those that drive by SE Sixth Ave between Belmont and Morrison Streets regularly have watched the previous bank building that was the home for Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) demolished and foundations for a new building begun.

The Modera Belmont will be a U shaped, six-story apartment complex with two hundred and eight units, 11,000 square-feet of ground floor retail, and 110 below grade parking spaces.

The designers are SERA architects and it is being built by the Mill Creek Residential Trust. The property sold for $6.25 million. OBT has already moved to a new home in the Bancroft Building in the South Waterfront District.

An interesting quirk of the project is that it is being built over a streambed that flowed through the Central Eastside making the below ground construction more difficult.

This year, plans will be finalized for redevelopment of the 1906 Shleifer Furniture building at 509 SE Grand Ave. into a 45,000 square-foot hotel and restaurant.

The Shleifer family has operated their furniture store in this historic building since 1936. The building is owned by Brad Malsin of Beam Development, well known for its restoration of historic properties.

Originally a hotel, this cornerstone property is one best preserved buildings in the East Side Historic District located along Grand Ave. and will be a much needed and appreciated center of hospitality in the Central Eastside.

The century old Salvation Army Building at 200 SE Martin Luther King Blvd. has been recently renovated. Evo, a ski, snowboard, bike, and surf store, opened last fall and Smith Optics will use 12,000 square feet on the upper floors.

Smith Optics will make this building their Pacific Coast Design Center. They are high quality maker of ski equipment. Smith Optics merged with Sanfilo, a large Italian eye-wear company in 1991.

The merger resulted in a new global sports and outdoor company.

The landmark Old Towne Storage, a century old five story building near the Burnside Bridge will be remodeled into 100,000 square feet creative office space in the Central Eastside Industrial District.

For years it has provided affordable self-storage spaces and a home to local craftsmen and artists. The 1916 building, is likely to have ground-floor retail and a penthouse deck with views of downtown and the space will be attractive to small tenants and larger firms. The project is expected to be finished this fall.

The Clay Creative office building, a six-story, 72,000 square-foot project was recently completed and is the first new industrial office project in Portland’s Central Eastside.

The former site of the Taylor Electric Building, destroyed by fire almost a decade ago, it is the third phase of the initiative that includes four blocks nearby the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Another building by Killian Pacific will be a 75,000 foot creative office space named Simple. It will be a timber-framed, six-story structure that will allow wide spans for large open office space. Construction begins this year at 120 SE Clay St., the former home of Speeds Towing.

If you drive by SE Grand and Belmont, you can’t help but see the Dutch Brothers coffee cart east of the Morrison Bridge. That’s the location of a new retail/office/apartment project. Bollinger and Sons, long time Central Eastside insurance firm will build a five story project with 26,000 square feet of office space and seventy-five apartments and at least eighty parking spaces.

Just east of the Grand Central Bowl complex is a half block under construction owned by John Plew of Concept Entertainment.

It will be five stories with 105 apartment units with space for two 1,800 square foot retail locations on the first floor. Work-live spaces are expected to be located along SE Ninth Ave. and twenty basement parking spaces are under consideration.

More of the same is on the way and in future planning and design. This is the phoenix rising in Portland.