Furniture warehouse demolished to make way for more mixed use in the Central Eastside Industrial District

Massive changes are already underway at the southeast Burnside Bridgehead, near where the black Yard and colorful Fair-haired Dumbbell buildings have already started chitters.

Only certain corridors in the industrial-use district allow for the multi-use that these towers bring, including 5 MLK, the newest 17-floor tower to be under construction at the bridgehead.

And last Wednesday, the demolition of the Fishels Furniture building on the site where 5 MLK is slated to go up took place.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JON HOUSE - In the weeks before the demolition, workers cleaned and prepared the 1907 Fishels building.

The plans for 5 MLK include 120,000 square feet of commercial office space on the first six floors below 220 residential apartment units on floors seven through 17, with retail on the ground floor along Burnside.

Developing the bridgehead gateway

Kelly Saito, managing partner of Gerding Edlen, gave an exclusive interview to the Business Tribune about what the community can expect from 5MLK.

"It will add to the neighborhood architecturally. We spent a lot of time trying to be thoughtful around the architectural expression and aesthetic of the building, both in itself and as it relates to surrounding developments around the bridgehead," Saito said. "It's a true mixed-use project: you have significant commercial components that will represent jobs and daytime activity, it's got residential, we're truly trying to bring the benefit of a real mixed-use project to that neighborhood."

The project will also add 170 underground parking spaces and 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

"In addition to a mix of uses, we are trying to create common areas within the building that will foster larger interaction between different components — the building is being designed in a way to foster greater interaction between residential tenants and the commercial office tenants," Saito said. "A lot of common areas for the building are designed in a way to be shared by both."

One lobby will serve both office and residential uses, as will one large bike facility with access directly off the Burnside Bridge where office workers and residential tenants will share showers and lockers.

"I would say that it definitely has a more modern aesthetic, complementary to other developments that have occurred around the bridgehead — it certainly doesn't mimic directly any one of those, it's intended to complement them," Saito said. "It uses materials like glass and stone and porcelain, and has a defined, unique characteristic in the amount of outdoor spaces provided."

Numerous terraces are carved out at different heights.

"Notched in these cube-like forms that both create architectural interest and aesthetic interest and vary depending on which side of the building you're looking at," Saito said. "It also provides useable outdoor areas the occupants will enjoy, allows us to create a more lush look with landscaping and a modern exterior. When we carve out these terraces and landscape them, we can overlay a more natural aesthetic."

Fitting in to the CEID

In the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID), much of the land is zoned to protect industrial uses.

"In very specific areas are commercial corridors which have proper zoning and density to allow this type of building," Saito said. "It's almost a responsibility if we're going to develop this land, we maximize its potential in terms of its density and what we put inside it."

That's ultimately why the team made the decision to demolish the Fishel's Furniture building, a 1907 building of masonry and concrete, and start from new construction.

"Clearly to do that, we need to use the entire block," Saito said. "The decision was born out of maximizing and is directly related to and supports the preservation of industrial uses within the industrial district."

While the city's been growing in jobs, population and density, especially in close-in neighborhoods, Gerding Edlen is making sure the mixed-use development in the industrial district is adding housing and contributing to the economy's many needs.SUBMITTED: GERDING EDLEN - The rendering shows a modern 17-story tower with stepping ecoroof cutouts that is intended to compliment the east Burnside Bridgehead CEID area.

"The Central East Industrial District doesn't necessarily need new housing, in fact housing in generally precluded within the industrial district itself — very few places in the CEID are known to allow for those types of uses, and this is one of those locations," Saito said. "If you have the demand drivers pushing growth and have a protected industry sanctuary that exists there, it makes sense in those places — where this type of development is allowed — for it to happen in a way that promotes and maximizes the density that's allowed."

They intend to maximize the ability to serve multiple uses in providing both employment and housing.

"The biggest challenge was coming up with the right design that would both maximize the density and potential as well as kind of complement the other buildings around the bridgehead and live up to the importance of the location: finishing the gateway to the east side of the Burnside Bridge," Saito said. "It's a hard thing to live up to, so I would say the hardest thing for us moving through the design process was balancing the program, getting all the programs we wanted it to have and packaging it in a way that really lived up to that responsibility."

He said the City was great to work with although the design review process was longer than initially anticipated, "which in hindsight is not unusual given the importance of the location and prominence of the site, but it absolutely resulted in a better building," Saito said.

As for the construction timeline, the team will dig the underground parking before starting to come back up. The ground floor retail spaces will start being marketed later this summer when passersby will start to see 5 MLK rising. Completion is slated for the beginning of 2020.

"We're proud of all of it, we're building it, we're really happy about the program and the design and think it's going to be a great compliment to the bridgehead, the neighborhood and be a real success," Saito said. "We hope it will be something new and unique for the city."


5 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

District: Central Eastside Industrial

Neighborhood: Buckman

Developer: Gerding Edlen

Designer: GREC Architects

General contractor: Hoffman Construction

Landscaping: Place Studio

Engineering: Glumac, KPFF

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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