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Gateway Transit Center project breaks ground


Current and former Opportunity Gateway program advisory committee members gathered last month at the Oregon Clinic for the groundbreaking ceremony. From left to right they are: policy advisory committee Chairwoman Beth Baltz; member Jerry Koike; former chairman Duke Shepherd; first chairman Dick Cooley; Portland Development Commission regional center redevelopment team leader Sara King; Marcus & Millichap Real Estate investment broker Dann Wonser; and Human Solutions Director of Housing Development Doreen Warner. The Opportunity Gateway policy advisory committee is made up of East Portland residents, business owners and others from the community. The committee advises on issues involving growth in the Gateway area.
Imprinting cement foundation building blocks with their logos during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Oregon Clinic being built at the Gateway Transit Center are, from left to right, TriMet's Executive Director for Capital Projects and Facilities Neil McFarland, Portland Development Commission Commissioner Bertha Ferran and Mayor Tom Potter. Government agencies, citizen groups and local business interests worked to make this project a reality. Behind Mayor Potter, watching the ceremony is, from left to right, Mayoral Staff Assistant Dan Douthit, TriMet Deputy General Counsel Tamara Lewis and TriMet Project Engineer Amy Fandrich and Hoffman Construction Company Engineer Brian Wildish.
Public officials last month celebrated the official start of the Gateway Transit Center redevelopment, which they hope is the first stage in the high intensity redevelopment of the area.

The first phase of the project will be a three-story, 101,000-square-foot medical office building and corporate center for the Oregon Clinic on a one-acre plot in the middle of the Transit Center, together with a three-level, 573-space parking garage to the north to serve both the transit center and office building. Future phases call for an additional six stories of office or housing to be constructed on top of the office building, another two structures on the remainder of the transit center, and additional parking. The project is a joint venture by the clinic, the Gerding/Edlen Development Company and the Portland Development Commission.

The down side is that things will be a little more crowded and less convenient at the transit center, especially during the next nine months. Until the new garage opens next spring, the transit center parking capacity is cut in half. To take up the slack, TriMet staff has identified seven alternative parking locations. Three of these are close by MAX stations: The Gateway Elks parking lot, with 185 spaces, a block from Gateway station; The Menlo Park park and ride with more than 600 spaces near the 122nd Avenue stop; and the 181st park and ride with 247 spaces. In addition, Rose City Church of the Nazarene at Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 70th Avenue has 14 spaces for riders of the No. 12 Sandy bus, the Kern Park Christian Church lot at Southeast Holgate Street and 69th Avenue offers 24 spaces for line No. 17 riders, as does the Pilgrim Lutheran Church with its 18 spaces at Southeast 92nd Avenue and Cora Street, while the Central Bible Church at Northeast 90th Avenue and Glisan Street offers 20 spaces for #19 Glisan riders. The church lots are available during the day on weekdays only because of competing uses.

At the dedication TriMet’s Neil McFarlane said, “There have been challenges finding homes for the customers who are used to parking here.” At the same time he said, “I understand the importance of this site. There’s no more transit-friendly site than here. We’ll soon have light rail traveling in four directions.”

Mayor Tom Potter led off the speechmakers. He thanked the Oregon Clinic for “deciding to stay in the city of Portland. It was a great idea. You’re keeping 122 jobs in the city and creating another dozen.” He also thanked PDC, TriMet and the Opportunity Gateway Program Advisory Committee volunteers “for the great job you’ve done.”

Commissioner Sam Adams expressed similar sentiments.

Oregon Clinic C.E.O. Dr. Doug Walta said his institution provides “health care to everyone,” treating 36,000 patients a year from 18 sites. The new building “will be a solid foundation” that will, “extend our horizon and our vision.”

He added, “It took a lot of tenacity by a lot of people,” and dealing with “city organizations I didn’t know existed.” In a press release, the clinic said the new building would house 20 doctors and 150 other employees.

Gerding/Edlen Development principal Mark Edlen thanked PDC’s Sara King and Cheryl Twete and said, “Without their assistance I’m absolutely certain we would have lost these jobs.”

Indeed, obtaining permission for the project was no slam-dunk. The Opportunity Gateway Program Advisory Committee and the Portland Design Commission held multiple hearings on the project, with the PAC wondering if the first-phase development was big enough to justify turning over the premier development site in the neighborhood, and the Design Commission feeling the project was “too suburban”. There were multiple changes before each gave their approval.

Edlen said that he expected the building to earn a silver rating on the LEED evaluation system for environmental design - “which, for a medical office building, is no small feat.”

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the term used by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED was created to define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement. The certification process begins with initial certification, followed by silver, gold and, the highest, platinum.

Also on hand were PAC members, their reservations apparently gone. Chair Doreen Warner told the Memo, “It’s wonderful. This is exactly what we had in mind with the (Gateway) concept plan. It’s exactly the right development in exactly the right location.

Former PAC chair Dick Cooley said, “It’s great. It happened within my lifetime.”
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