Portland company behind ‘world’s most sustainable office building’

DEVELOPMENT ROUNDUP: Portland firm is part of lauded project in Seattle; city nears deal with Zidell family again; Hales proud of urban renewal changes.

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A Portland-based company helped design the Bullitt Center, the first office building to earn the coveted Living Building Challenge certification.

Portland Business Journal reports:

The glassy building with an over-sized roof opened to fanfare several years ago, with Bullitt Foundation CEO Denis Hayes and others calling it the world’s most environmentally sustainable office building. But it wasn’t official until now. Certification by the Living Building Challenge proves that the Bullitt Center, with its solar panels and other features, has generated more power and collected more water than it uses. Four more certifications will be announced Thursday at the Living Future Conference in Seattle.

The $32.5 million price of the project works out to around $625 a square foot. That’s 45 percent more than the development cost of a typical office building it downtown Seattle. But it’s only about 12 percent more than what it cost to develop the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the Bulllitt Center’s own financial analysis that it is sharing with the public.

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Portland nears deal with Zidell family again

A policy director for Portland Mayor Charlie Hales — Jillian Detweiler — said a deal with the Zidell family to redevelop the South Waterfront is expected by May.

This is the second time in the last six months the city and the family have neared a deal, OregonLive.com reports.

One holdup in negotiations has been affordable housing. City officials previously worried that Zidell had “no desire” for affordable housing, and the company wanted to delay any deal to let the fire die down.

Commissioner Nick Fish on Wednesday said Zidell had offered about an acre of land for affordable housing. But Detweiler declined to provide specifics, including whether Portland’s purchase option would drop if the city builds affordable housing elsewhere in the district (which had previously been proposed). Both sides also made progress negotiating over a future park under the Ross Island Bridge. Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation, said she met with company President Jay Zidell on Monday and broadly agreed to a concept.

Fritz said the city and family have a “tentative agreement” that “needs to be vetted.”

Under the deal proposed in December, the public would pay $34.4 million to redevelop the property and ZRZ Realty, the family’s real estate arm, would contribute about $36.3 million for parks, roads and stormwater renovations.

Hales proud of urban renewal changes

As the City Council approved changes to about half of Portland’ urban renewal districts, Charlie Hales reported being “very proud” of what is considered a policy win for the first-term mayor.

The South Waterfront District and the Central Eastside are expected to be some of the first areas affected, OregonLive.com reports.

Urban renewal works by freezing the tax base within districts created by the City Council. Taxes paid to the city, county and schools remain flat. But as property values increase through redevelopment, the city borrows money to pay for projects within the district and then pays off debt from taxes above the base. The money isn’t returned to general government services until a district closes and all debts are paid.

“There is a huge incentive for the city to overuse urban renewal, frankly,” Commissioner Steve Novick said. “And the idea that we’re acknowledging some limits, and scaling back, is an extraordinary thing which people should recognize.”

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