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Lloyd EcoDistrict gets stable financing

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JONATHAN HOUSE - A crane perches over a massive hole where the Hassalo on Eighth retail and multifamily development is under construction. The project could bring hundreds of new bicyclists into the Lloyd District.Northeast Portland’s Lloyd EcoDistrict has moved one step closer to its stated goal of being “The most sustainable business district in North America.”

The ecodistrict — one of five designated in the Portland area — will receive $100,000 annually for 10 years, with a 2 percent increase per year, after the Portland City Council approved a plan by businesses in the district to tax themselves in November.

The windfall will provide stable funding for the district’s effort to promote energy efficiency, waste reduction, transportation options and stormwater management, among other green goals. 

“That was a tremendous vote of confidence,” says Sarah

Heinicke, executive director of Lloyd EcoDistrict, which is housed in a sustainably remodeled cluster of old buildings called The LeftBank Project, just north of The Moda Center. 

EcoDistricts expand ideas emerging in the green building movement to entire business districts or neighborhoods. The other four Portland ecodistricts are in the South Waterfront, Gateway and Lents/Foster Road communities, plus South of Market, which includes Portland State University and surrounding blocks.

The Lloyd EcoDistrict has been in the works for three years, Heinicke says, and “came out of an effort by Mayor Sam Adams and the Portland Development Commission to jump-start sustainability.”

Since then, other city bureaus, Lloyd-area businesses, and Portland State University students joined the effort. Several big property owners and institutions in the Lloyd District are active stakeholders in the ecodistrict, including American Assets Trust, Bonneville Power Administration, Oregon Convention Center, the Portland Trail Blazers, Pacific Power, and Metro.

PSU has been working on ecodistricts informally for three years, says Christina Williams, communications director for the university’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions. “We work with faculty to develop curriculum, and the students who take the courses are getting jobs.”

Among the PSU faculty and student contributions was a senior business capstone project that developed financial models for the Lloyd EcoDistrict.

Influx of bicyclists

Though many of the Lloyd area’s green efforts have been invisible to the public so far, there’s one they can’t possibly miss: A three-block earthen hole encircling the Lloyd 700 office building, kitty-corner from the Lloyd Center Nordstrom and Stanford’s restaurant.

The mixed-use, four-building project will include 54,000 square feet of retail space, 657 market-rate apartments, three levels of underground parking and a phenomenal 1,000 bike parking spaces, says Wade Lange, local general manager of American Assets Trust. His company purchased a large block of Lloyd property held by Ashforth Pacific a year ago and is developing the four-block site.

“We already took Multnomah Street from four lanes down to two and included a protected bike lane,” Lange says. Courtyards between the buildings will provide traffic-free walkways and greenspaces. The project, recently named Hassalo on Eighth, is slated to be complete in fall 2015.

Portland-based GBD Architects, known for its green-building expertise, designed Hassalo on Eighth. GBD’s goal is Platinum LEED certification, the highest level of sustainability a building can achieve. 

One of the internal wonders of the buildings will be easy to spot: A “living machine” that makes the recycled gray water visible to the public, Lange says. Solar-heated water will be available in one of the buildings.

The idea behind an ecodistrict is to expand such green features to a broader geographic area.

“The ecodistrict grew out of the desire of a lot of property owners to make a more sustainable business district,” Lange says. “It made sense to do it.”

Heinicke feels fortunate to be working with such forward-thinking businesses that, as she says, “are willing to put skin in the game, to tax themselves to get things done.”

The ecodistrict has set ambitious goals, Heinicke says. “We have 15 projects identified to hit a five-year incremental goal, making improvements to existing buildings and new buildings and making use of renewables such as photovoltaic arrays.”

Getting 10 years of funding for the Lloyd EcoDistrict is a positive step, Lange says.