This afternoon I was scanning the city of Portland’s permit reports and came across a Early Assistance request for a Type 3 Design Review of a 7 story mixed use building in Southwest. No address was given, just Block 101 of Caruthers addition. It turns out the property is at the corner of SW Moody and the Ross Island Bridge and is owned by ZRZ Reality, the real estate arm of the Zidell Company, the barge builder located on the North end of the South Waterfront. The applicant is listed as Jonathan Ledesma at 413 SW 13th Avenue here in town. The address is for Project^, a local development company. Their most recent project was the Blackbox done in conjunction with Skylab Architects. It was a beautiful rehab of an existing building in the Westend into offices space for Project^ and Skylab and retail space that now contains an array of indie fashion retailers. In the Blackbox project they added a catalytic project that showed they understood the area and then built strongly upon it with what seems like a carefully curated collection of tenants. They have also recently done two student housing in Eugene, Oregon next to the new Knight Arena, The Courtside and the Skybox. Tor these two buildings they work with ZGF Architects to produce some of the nicest new buildings Eugene has seen in years.
Perhaps all of this means that Zidell is starting the development process earlier than anticipated or at least on some of their peripheral properties that they do not need for barge building. While I love that Portland still makes things like barges and railcars and I hope that we continue to long into the future, I also want to see the Zidell property developed. South Waterfront is so cutoff from the rest of the city. This isolated condition will only end as Zidell, OHSU and the other property owners between Downtown/River Place ad the South Waterfront develop there land so that there is continuous city all along the river and not the vast stretches of parking, empty lots and industrial lands between the two. If Zidell is beginning, however tentatively the redevelopment process it is good to see that they are partnering with people as able as Project^. Tom Cody and Anyeley Hallova both worked at Gerding Edlen prior to starting the firm, and Jonathan Ledesma worked for Brad Clopfield’s firm Allied Works among others. They seem to have lots of experience and good vision. There track record thus far show that they understand the value of sustainability, design and feel. It would be great if another home grown firm with good values could start to make a mark on our city. It would also be great if Zidell started to fill the void between SoWa and the rest of the city. What would be best of all is if both happened together and we as a city got some great buildings that really reflected the best of our sustainable and stylistic design capabilities.