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Architects respond in real-time to market demands



A cluster of proposed high-rises in the Lloyd District has seen minor pre-application design changes that include more, smaller residential units and additional height.

JULES ROGERS - Oregon Square will be redeveloped into four mixed-use high-rises, now planned for two phases.

GBD Architects has requested a second design review with the City of Portland’s Design Commission for the Oregon Square project along a superblock in the Lloyd District with significant changes to the original proposal that recently received land-use approval.

The original plan included mid-rises and high-rises totaling around 923 apartments — encasing a grand plaza — at an average of 834 square feet each and 554 parking spots. The new proposal include two phases of development, all high-rises, to be reviewed separately.

Now going in phases

Kyle Andersen, GBD’s design principal on the project, said the main change is that the project will now be reviewed and developed in phases.

“The biggest difference is that ... we are proposing to phase Oregon Square: phase 1, the buildings to the west along N.E. 7th Ave., and phase 2, the buildings to the east along N.E. 9th Ave.,” Andersen said. “The biggest change is that we went from a four-block development of 940 units to a first phase of development of roughly 650 units, though we’re phasing the project.”

Andersen said the original project was L-shaped buildings encircling a large plaza in the middle with ground-floor retail and below-grade parking.

“We are responding in real-time to the market demands,” Andersen said. “With the increased density, it really starts to make sense to phase development and release apartments to the market in a more measured approach.”

The new plan increases the number of units and changes one high-rise by adding three floors, more ground level podium units and increasing the tower area by more than 100,000 square feet while reducing the average unit size.

GBD ARCHITECTS - The biggest change is the two-phased approach, but renderings show updated building imagery as well.

People want studios and one beds

The changes were sparked by the leasing team who recently finished leasing many apartments at Hassalo on Eighth, a three-block development equivalent in scale to the first phase of the Oregon Square. Both are developed by American Assets Trust.

“Having the lease up of Hassalo on Eighth in the works gives the leasing team a keen insight into what residents are looking for,” Andersen said. “We are being told that the studio and one-bedroom units are in high demand, still. Less so on the two- and three-bedroom units.”

Andersen said his team increased one building's height by three floors, but the other northwest building of phase 1 remains the same height as it was, and the other two buildings to the east, which are phase 2, also remain the same.

Oregon Square was originally approved by the Design Commission in November 2015 following three design advice request hearing and three design review hearings. Previously, Lloyd Corporation built four low-rise office buildings on the site.

GBD - Plans changed for one of the planned high-rises, increasing its height by three floors and adding more studios and one-bedroom apartments.

Units averaging 700sf

Phase 1 is proposed to be on the west side of the superblock, including two mixed-use towers being 24 and 11 stories tall with a total of 650 residential units averaging 700 square feet each, 11,000 square feet of retail and 240 underground parking spots counting 218 for residents. In total, the proposal includes 595,000 square feet.

“We need design review approval because there’s going to be a design for the first phase that really has to pass the test in the commission’s eyes — and the full buildout, which is the second phase,” Andersen said.

Phase 2 includes the plans for the east side of the superblock, proposed to be two more high-rises. Together, the plans result in a total of 1,160 apartments and 503 parking spaces for the residents, a 0.4 ratio.

“The time of pause has given the owner a chance to rethink the programming of the development, and has asked to change the mix to a reduced average unit size, which therefore has increased the unit count overall,” Andersen said.

Original plans included 1,500 bike stalls because the code requires 1.5 per unit. With more than 600 units and requirement of 900 stalls, “the larger facility was to accommodate the higher quantity of units at full buildout,” Andersen said. The project will begin submitting for permits in about a year.

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