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|Articles - November/December 2013|
|Monday, October 28, 2013|
BY BRIAN LIBBY
Standing on the top floor of the new Emery Apartments in Portland’s burgeoning South Waterfront district feels like being on the prow of a ship. Clad in weathered steel, a nod to the Zidell barge-building facility across the street, the building leans forward from the top, as if with the break of a champagne bottle the 118-unit, $20 million project will slide into the Willamette. As developer Tom Cody takes in the panoramic view, a decade’s worth of condos towering overhead at right and a TriMet bridge under construction to the left, one can easily imagine a ship’s wheel in front of him. With three new central city projects opening in as many months, each attracting rave reviews and an influx of tenants, Cody represents a postrecession way forward: development that is smaller, smarter and rooted in place.
“We are very much committed in each case to actually stepping back and allowing the landscape and the context around us to inform the design,” Cody says of the approach his firm, Project^, takes to development. “That leads to a very clear and compelling design vision for each project, which in turn yields economic value down the road.”
Each of Cody’s projects seems to have transformed its respective neighborhood. The $4.5 million Union Way, an early 20th-century warehouse on Southwest Stark Street, featured an ideal location between the hip Ace Hotel and Powell’s Books but only a small amount of retail frontage. Working with architect Thomas Robinson, Cody carved an alley through the middle of the building so it could be lined with 10,000 square feet of boutique retailers — turning the architecture inside out. Because the alley can be used as a shortcut from downtown to the Pearl, it is already packed with visitors. San Francisco-based clothier Self Edge, for example, reports Union Way marks its biggest-ever opening.
Former University of Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny became an investor in Union Way and Cody’s other developments after being impressed by the developer’s blend of discipline and vision — a quality he’d seen in former Ducks football coach Chip Kelly. “A lot of Chip’s success is about the fundamentals: blocking and tackling, hard work and showing up for practice. But he’s this leading-edge thinker, a game changer,” Kilkenny explains. “Tom’s similar. It’s unique that you can find people who get both sides of the equation.”
That balanced outlook came early. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cody’s first influence was his academic parents, one of whom studied ancient civilizations and the other ecology. His first job out of college was working for the nation’s most acclaimed architect, Frank Gehry, whose passion and creativity influenced his pupil — as did some unexpected advice. “Frank said, ‘You don’t want to be an architect,’” Cody remembers. “That’s where I learned that planning and development is, I’d argue, the best way to practice architecture.” Cody went on to study urban planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, after which he relocated from Los Angeles to Portland in search of a better balance between the urban and natural worlds.
A youthful-looking 43, Cody believes Union Way says something about the formulaic nature of other developers, who may have simply tried to make the building resemble other existing projects. “Your typical property developer would say there are five categories of retail: suburban mall, urban mall, lifestyle shopping centers, street front or strip retail,” he explains. “Well, Union Way says, ‘No, there’s a sixth.’ I think that’s indicative of an attitude that says, ‘What if we reach further?’”
Nearby Union Way is ArtHouse, the first residence hall at Pacific Northwest College of Art, which is helping make the previously sleepy North Park blocks into a vibrant new campus for the school. Cody’s company coordinated a partnership between PNCA and Powell’s Books to realize the $7.3 million project, building ArtHouse on the site of the bookseller’s former technical-books outpost. Referring to Cody, Powell’s founder Michael Powell says, “He represents a new generation of developers who will replace the John Carrolls and Al Solheims in being local and sensitive to Portland but being adventurous.”
Before forming Project^ in 2008, Cody worked for two larger local developers: Opus Northwest and Gerding Edlen. The latter he viewed as a progressive large-scale developer, and while at Gerding, Cody worked on major Portland developments such as the Civic on West Burnside next to Jeld-Wen Field, and the Twelve West tower in the West End. But Cody sought to work on a smaller scale with a higher level of flexibility. His own projects have all been privately funded, meaning they are free from strictures imposed by real estate investment trusts, pension funds and other common sources of development capital.
“A lot of times, even the best developers will get caught up in that trap of just saying, ‘This is what I want to build,’ and allowing the project to be driven by math,” Cody says. “And math is important; our business acumen is the reason we’re here today. But we’ve also proven that by focusing on design, the math gets better and the yield gets higher.”
Indeed, the Emery is on track to be completely leased within six months. Carved into a hillside, it’s dwarfed by the adjacent condo towers, but already it seems evocative of place and full of life. “If there’s any kind of pixie dust we have with respect to how we look at development and identify opportunities,” Cody says, “it’s that we have a more creative response.”
Thursday, August 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Portland-based startup ImpactFlow recently announced a $5.7 million funding round. CEO and co-founder Tyler Foreman talks about matching businesses with nonprofits, his time at Intel and the changing face of philanthropy.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT
The false promise of economic impact statements.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge in an attempt to prevent a ship from heading to the Arctic.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.
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Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling. This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card. In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation. Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.