Music database to add employees at new location

City government, Thai cuisine, a U.S. Congresswoman and vinyl records may seem like an incongruous combination, but are among the disparate elements coming together to help transform The Round at Beaverton Central from a moribund monument to failed development to a vibrant heart of the city.

Less than a year after a complex deal between the city of Beaverton and Portland’s Scanlan Kemper Bard Companies cleared long-running obstacles to developing the complex, commitments are moving toward fulfillment while new tenants continue to show interest in making The Round their home.

Developments at The Round since the dawn of 2013 include:

  • The Beaverton City Council seeking preliminary plans to move city government offices to the city-owned South Office Building;

  • 1st District Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici setting up her new Oregon office on the building’s second floor;

  • Planet Thai restaurant opening its doors in the former Typhoon! space in the ground-floor retail space;

  • SKB preparing to redevelop and landscape three parking lots;

  • Discogs signing a lease for fifth-floor space in the SKB-owned Watson Building, the one housing Beaverton’s 24-Hour Fitness facility, and to move from its current offices on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in April.
  • A growing recorded music database and marketing company, Discogs specializes in CDs and hard-to-find files as well as long-playing records — yes, the black vinyl kind with the paper label and hole in the center.

    Trond Ingvaldsen, senior vice president of SKB, described Discogs as a unique entrepreneurial venture that’s quietly established an online presence since 2000.

    “It’s an exchange for music files — kind of like the eBay of music,” he said. “It’s run by a fascinating guy, Kevin Lewandowski. This was his hobby.”Kevin Lewandowski is the founder and chief executive officer of Discogs, a database and marketplace for CD and record collectors.

    A former Intel employee, Lewandowski moved Discogs out of his apartment in 2007 into space off Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway near Apple Way. Looking for a place to expand for some time, he indicated The Round is the next step up for his company, which he plans to expand to 17 employees by the end of the year.

    “We haven’t seen anything else like this in Beaverton,” he said in a statement. “The location of The Round, the MAX line, the area businesses and the creative space made it an easy choice. I’m realizing it is important to showcase the personality of our company to our clients, and this space will allow us to do this.”

    Public meets private

    The infusion of a young, creatively-charged technology business such as Discogs, along with Planet Thai joining Mingo and Mio Sushi restaurants, creates an appealing combination for SKB as well as other prospective tenants, Ingvaldsen said.

    “So far, there’s good connectivity out there. Planet Thai is a really great use for the space. It keeps the Thai theme out there and complements the other restaurants,” he said. “Discogs came in, and things started to shake loose out there.”

    Of course, the pending move of Beaverton City Hall’s government offices — along with their 175 or so employees — from 4755 S.W. Griffith Drive to the South Office Building will shake things up even more. The city is expected to follow through with plans to redevelop The Round’s South Plaza area this summer.

    “That’s clearly a positive development for everybody,” Ingvaldsen said. “It will bring a lot of employees to the property.”

    Don Mazziotti, the city’s economic and community development director, has no doubt the city’s commitment to The Round will continue to build momentum at the once-troubled complex.

    “City government can choose to become a driver of the economy if it has the right tools and staff and financial resources to do it,” he said.

    Fair deal

    Last spring, Mazziotti brokered a deal with SKB and LNR Property LLC that led to the city buying the South Office Building from the latter for $8.65 million. The purchase relieved the city of an annual $400,000 lease to house the Central Plant, which provides heating and cooling to The Round, in the building’s first floor.

    At the same time, SKB agreed to purchase several other properties at The Round, including the Watson/24-Hour Fitness building, the ground-floor retail condos, three parking lots and the vacant Lot 3, which it conveyed to the city.

    The complex deal freed the city from property tax entanglements dating to The Round’s initial late-1990s development — and subsequent abandonment by a series of developers.

    So far, commitments made during the March-April 2012 deal are coming to pass. SKB plans to begin renovating and landscaping the parking lot next to the Beaverton Central MAX station, as well as two other lots on the west side of the Crescent Building, in late March.

    “We’ll be adding to what’s there,” Ingvaldsen said, “to provide more parking for retail tenants and make The Round more accessible for customers and help the retail tenants be successful.

    “It needs a little TLC, someone to take care of it,” he added, referring to The Round. “I think all those pieces are in place. We are excited.”

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