Definitive to brighter economic times ahead, Park Avenue West, the long stalled mixed-use tower next to Director Park, will finally rise out of its 6-year hole in downtown Portland. TMT Development has restarted basic construction and restarted its design review application to include new changes to a 30-story scheme that is proposed to reach over 460 feet tall (currently the city’s height cap). The outer facade looks almost identical to the previous 33 and 26-story versions (proposed in 2007 and 2009 respectively), but the most obvious changes are internal; 211 apartments instead of condos, and office floor reconfiguration for the special needs of the new anchor tenant Stoel Rives.
The fact that this long-dead project has been resurrected against years of uncertainty should be celebrated. Portland has a small office market, and the city’s ideals limit height and volume in respect to the human scale, but the positive psychological effect on the local economy can not be understated. The Park Avenue West hole was a tear in the urban fabric, an open wound to the downtown core. Some will be unhappy, those trying to link the North and South Park Blocks had secretly been hoping that the project would fail and that another park block could be built in its stead. However, most Portlanders, whether they follow development or not, whether they like the design or not, will be happy to see a new tower in their skyline, a sign of economic recovery: a promise of a better tomorrow cast in concrete, glass, and steel.