One of the greatest things about Portland is the abundance of creative zest and support for homegrown entrepreneurship. The city teams with cool ideas, fun retail shops, and amazingly diverse restaurants. Places like the Caravan: The Tiny House Hotel, the Southeast Wine Collective, the Ford Building, and Washington High School are all great examples. If you don’t know about these places then a tour needs to be in order.
There is a continuum that exists between the built world and the users and inhabitants of spaces. Great projects do more than provide the sticks and bricks for people to live, work, play, and shop in. They provide a gateway for dreamers to start businesses; they allure hungry pedestrians into hip cafes, and they tantalize window shoppers with the latest retail fashions.
A new project in Portland’s industrial NW corridor stands out as a new class of building that is catering to the city’s creative economy. The New York is a new vertical industrial building that caters to companies with needs not met with traditional industrial or office spaces. It is truly a new breed of industrial spaces akin to spaces that you’d more likely find in India that is going to make big waves in the future of our economy.
The New York building was developed by industrial space owner Rosan Inc., designed by DiLoreto Architects, and built by Andersen Construction. It is one of the first vertical industrial spaces to be built in Portland in a long time, and it is breaking the mold on what industrial actually means.
This is not a big, sprawling metal building with cargo bays and nondescript aesthetic appeal. Instead it is an edgy, but almost residential feeling building that offers spaces for small businesses that are looking for an incredible space with an open floor plan, lots of lighting, an exposed industrial feel, and nice amenities like indoor bike racks, art made out of steel, and employee showers. Throw in killer 360-degree views on all sides and it makes for one hell of a work place. It doesn’t hurt that the location is blocks away from NW 23rdAvenue and a stone’s throw away from downtown and the east side.
What is exciting is that the building offers flexible spaces for businesses that are in no way looking for conventional industrial space. This is a place that attracts coffee roasters, software developers, beer brewers, and furniture makers. Designed to allow maximum flexibility, tenants have the ability to start with 1,000 square feet and grow into additional space as their businesses grow. With a long-term vision in mind, the developers even designed the space so that eventually one day the building can be converted into apartments or condos as the area transitions into more residential.
Catering to this type of creative tenant is a niche that is seriously attractive not only from a cool factor, but also is extremely attractive from a dollars and sense perspective. The project costs were the same as a conventional warehouse space, but it commands a premium compared to what industrial space rents for. Talk about a great investment.
Expect to see more of these spaces emerge in the coming years. More and more the fabric of our economy is shifting away from the big block retailers, and spaces like this will help small business owners thrive. This type of building is versatile and will be in high demand once word gets out. I would put money down that we’ll start seeing this type of building but with a cool new live-work concept.