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Work starts again on stalled building

The gaping hole in downtown Portland at Southwest Park and Taylor has been an eyesore for four years. But construction on the Park Avenue West Tower is finally beginning again.

TMT Development announced Friday the tower will finally be built. They secured a construction loan for the $175 million project from a California company and from the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

"For strong projects like this, financing is now available, when it wasn't back in the great recession of 2009," said Vanessa Sturgeon, the president of TMT Development.

It was started in 2008, but construction halted a year later when the economy melted down. The hole and uncertainty hurt other businesses around the area, even as the economy started to turn around.

People like Mary Lou Cavendish have been looking forward to this kind of activity in downtown for years.

"I am delighted to hear," she told KOIN 6 News. "Isn't it called the Portland Pit?"

The tower will be a little different from its original concept. The tower will be 30 stories tall instead of 26, and 211 apartments will replace the condos in the middle of the tower.

Retail will still be prominent at ground level, with offices at the top and a six-level parking garage underground.

Park Avenue West will be 75 feet taller than the nearby Fox Tower.

"It's great. It's going to obviously help this corner," Bill Hayden of Brasserie Montmarte said Friday. "We're hoping that it will help lease out the Carl Greve's next to us, because that's been empty for about five years also. So we're pretty excited about it."

Brooks Brothers is near the tower's northwest corner. Manager James Pierce said customers often asked about the big hole across the street.

"Possible clientele that will be moving in there will definitely help, number one. But also the shops around the bottom will definitely help bring more traffic to the area," he said.

Park Avenue West Tower construction is expected to create nearly 3,000 jobs for construction workers, suppliers and related businesses. An anchor tenant has been secured for the offices.

The tower is expected to be complete in the spring of 2016.