Portland’s Pearl District has a new office project under construction.
The U.S. General Services Administration announced today that construction has begun on the Overton Pearl, a 61,000-square-foot office project to be located at 1455 N.W. Overton St., in Portland.
The GSA in 2009 announced it would be moving its Portland field office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services into the new building, which is designed by Fosler Portland Architecture and is being developed by Overton Pearl LLC. The project was first announced in 2008, but Ross Buffington, spokesman for the GSA, said the developer needed extra time to start construction of the project.
The GSA plans to lease 65 percent of the building, which will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certified.
Portland’s current immigration services office is located in the 511 Federal Building on 511 Northwest Broadway. When the GSA moves out, Buffington said it plans to donate the building to the Pacific Northwest College of Art, which owns several properties nearby.
A groundbreaking ceremony will be held July 6 for the project. Buffington said the ground floor of the project is already being constructed.
The entire Pearl District is a design review zone which means that the larger neighborhood is given the opportunity to weigh in on the design of new buildings and improvements. This process occurs in the Planning and Transportation Committee for the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.
The city has a multi step design review process for new projects. To give a real world example, let’s look at the proposed Hampton Inn on NW 9th Avenue. That project is currently going through the optional Design Advice Process with the city. The Design Advice phase is exactly what it sounds like – the developer is looking for advice and is not submitting their final proposal for official review. The goal of this process is to get early feedback from the City Design Commission before finalizing design. To that end, it is an informal process that allows the developer to get a better sense of direction before getting too deep into the design process. The Planning Committee approaches this stage in a similar manner – giving informal advice in the hope of getting great projects to add to the larger community. The Hampton Inn project will be at our next planning meeting on January 15th for our advice.
The next level of the City’s Design Review Process is a formal Design Review. The developer will submit the design that they hope to build. The Planning Committee sees these projects prior to the formal Design Review Hearing. This review is much more critical as the understanding is that the building design being presented could indeed be the building that stands on the corner. Just like the Design Commission, the PDNA Planning Committee looks at that project to see if the project conforms with the River District Design Guidelines, the Central City Guidelines, and when applicable with the Historic Review Guidelines. The committee formally votes on the design and submits written or oral testimony to the Commission at this stage.