TMT Development's president struggles to revive Park Avenue West

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

By Oakley Brooks

 

0611_HoldingTheLine_01
Vanessa Sturgeon, president of TMT Development near the stalled construction of the Park Avenue West office tower at Park and Yamhill in downtown Portland. // Photo by Anthony Pidgeon

TMT Development is caught in a trap. One of the lions of downtown Portland real estate development, it’s looking to erase a black eye dished out by the financial crash and to cover that construction pit at Park and Yamhill with the completed high-end office tower, Park Avenue West. But after a potential deal-clinching lease with the Portland Development Commission fell through last summer, future tenants and prospective lenders are now skittish about signing onto the project. Big tenants all over town are skeptical it will actually happen after lying dormant for three years.

In order to impress them, “The goal is to get the building out of the ground and have something to talk about before pursuing big tenants,” says Vanessa Sturgeon, TMT Development’s 33-year-old president. But banks, life insurance companies, pension funds or trusts who might offer the means to finish the project want to see roughly half of the building’s 22 stories leased before they’ll hand over the money.

“It’s all swirling around at the same time,” says Sturgeon, with a hint of hope that something may come out of discussions around town. In mid-April, the company submitted a proposal to the City of Portland, along with several other developers, in an attempt to win the Bureau of Environmental Services’ 75,000-square-foot lease.

With no concrete progress, however, rumors about Park Avenue West’s revival — alive since the fourth quarter of last year — continue to die in that motionless downtown pit and leave it as a lingering wound from the Great Recession.

That Sturgeon is opening up at all about negotiations is a sign of anxiety at TMT. Under Sturgeon’s bullish grandfather, Tom Moyer, the company built and continues to manage 9 million square feet of office space from Salem to Seattle, including the 1000 Broadway building and the magestic Fox Tower building at the heart of Portland. Moyer has been an important corporate citizen, building an auditorium at Central Catholic High School, offering scholarships through a trust named after his late wife, Marilyn, and donating at least $7 million for land and construction costs for Director Park, opposite the Fox Tower. But the company has rigorously maintained a low media profile, preferring to stick to an adage borrowed from reclusive venture capitalist Henry Hillman: “The spouting whale gets the harpoon.”

“They are a closely held family company and they just don’t burn a lot of calories on outreach,” says Bart Eberwein, vice president at Hoffman Construction, which is the general contractor on Park Avenue West and built the Fox Tower.

But Sturgeon admits the worth of the company’s real estate has, not surprisingly, dropped precipitously in value in recent years. And there may be more stress in the company, out of view.

Moyer is now 92, and though Sturgeon says, “He’s holding up incredibly well,” she would not allow him to be interviewed. Sources in the commercial real estate community say Moyer’s memory trouble, often chalked up to a lovable forgetfulness, is now a sign of advancing age. There’s a chance that his company would pass into estate before the Park Avenue West project is finished, and family members who stand to inherit the company and Moyer’s personal wealth may not want more of his money put into Park Avenue West.

Sturgeon says that picture of behind-the-scenes activity is “inaccurate.” But when asked if the family was supportive of the project she won’t answer: “I'm not going to comment on the family’s position,” she says.

 



 

Comments   

 
Jeffrey
0 #1 Signature Downtown TowerJeffrey 2011-06-13 19:03:15
The proposed Park Avenue West tower is located on a prime block in downtown Portland and will be a positive addition to the skyline. Office and retail tenants will add vibrancy to the immediate streetscape. The office tower should become a "signature address" for corporate firms to relocate into - one of only a few recent proposed projects in Portland that has some dynamic potential...
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Brain Storm

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CAMILLE GRIGSBY-ROCCA

Can the brave new world of neurotechnology help an OHSU surgeon find a cure for obesity?


Read more...

Storyteller in Chief: Natural Prophets

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN

Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Store Bought

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Market of Choice is on a tear. In 2012 the 35-year-old Eugene-based grocery chain opened a central kitchen/distribution center in its hometown. The market opened its third Portland store in the Cedar Mill neighborhood this year; another outpost in Bend broke ground in March. A fourth Portland location is slated for the inner southeast “LOCA” development, a mixed-use project featuring condos and retail. Revenues in 2014 were $175 million, a double-digit increase over 2013. CEO Rick Wright discusses growth, market trends and how he keeps new “foodie” grocery clerks happy.


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

Wildcards

Guest Blog
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
China A SharesBY JASON NORRIS, CFA | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Uncertainty in Greece and China, along with potential interest rate hikes mean investors are looking at the market and nervously questioning where they should be invested.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS