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TMT Development's president struggles to revive Park Avenue West

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Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Sturgeon operates from a modest, south-facing office on the Fox Tower’s 20th floor. She can be approachable and charming, flashing sparkling eyes as she talks of her imminent escape from spring dreariness to Mexico with her husband and two small boys. But as the conversation shifts to business, it shortens, each of her words measured cautiously. Despite the fact that she’s held the title of president for 10 years now, since she joined TMT as a young Willamette University graduate student at Moyer's request, she admits to being “nervous” about how the ongoing Park Avenue West saga is playing out in public. “I’m worried I’m going to get reamed over it,” in future press, she says.

I'm worried I'm going to get reamed over it. -Vanessa Sturgeon

Sturgeon offers brief glimpses of how difficult the last three years have been. She signed the stop work orders at Park Avenue West in April 2009, a week after her second son, Cole, was born, and a few days after closing on a new house in Lake Oswego.

“It was all a blur,” she says.

Shutting down the project “was incredibly hard. The hardest part was there were no other construction jobs for the workers to jump to.”

“[The downturn] has been hard for people in the office,” she says. “They call counterparts at other firms and they’re just gone, voice mail disconnected. These are people who’ve worked for the same place for 10 or 20 years. So it’s tough for morale.”

But asked if the sight of that dormant hole kitty-corner from the Fox Tower gets under her skin, she grows terse. “It’s just part of the landscape now,” she says.

There is undoubtedly a hard-nosed edge to Sturgeon. She reportedly announced intentions to sue her father, Elie Kassab, for ownership of a theater property in Vancouver, Wash., after dinner at his house with her brother and sister in 2005. The children thought they’d been wronged in a divorce settlement between their mother, Kimberly Moyer, and Kassab, which granted him the company. (Sturgeon and her siblings lost in court.)

By the accounts of business associates, Sturgeon is now the developer in charge at TMT. But she says Moyer still remains a close adviser, descending from his condominium to the office every day, and checking in by phone when at his second home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. “We talk about everything,” Sturgeon says.




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...
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