Adaptive reuse developers Thad Fisco (left) and Jon Kellogg at John Gorman's new restaurant, Tasty & Sons, on North Williams Avenue. // PHOTO BY TERESA MEIER
Jon Kellogg, a 22-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, says he caught a lot of flak when he first began considering bringing mixed-use development to North Williams Avenue.
“People thought we were crazy for looking at this area,” he says.
But Kellogg liked what he saw: a dense neighborhood a mile and a half from downtown, affordable buildings ripe for adaptive reuse and all the financial benefits that come with an “urban renewal area” designation.
And then there were the bicyclists. “We’d sit there and watch them ride by,” says Kellogg. “It was a constant stream.”
It used to be that practically nobody rode bicycles through this neighborhood. The latest counts find 2,700 bike trips per day. Kellogg decided to make bikes a central part of his redevelopment strategy.
Before: An empty building at 3901 N. Williams Ave. in Portland before renovation. After: The building now houses French restaurant Pix Patisserie and the 5th Quadrant restaurant.
After six and a half years of work, Kellogg and partner Thad Fisco of Portland-based Commercial Realty Advisors have transformed the neighborhood. Twenty tenants populate their 30,000-square-foot HUB building, offering everything from holistic veterinary care to a chocolate potato doughnut with crème anglaise. Their building down the street at 3961 North Williams houses the United Bicycle Institute, where hundreds of students learn mechanics and frame building each year. The storefront has large windows showing employees of Queen Bee Creations working the sewing machines. Among the businesses coming soon are the Hopworks Urban Brewery, a salumeria (Italian for salami shop) called Chop and a bike wheel shop called Epic Wheel Works.
There’s a name for this: bicycle-oriented development. Bikes sell well in Portland, and they also offer practical advantages. As Kellogg and Fisco learned on North Williams, it’s a lot easier to install 127 bicycle parking spaces than to build a parking lot.
It brings in new customers, too. When Valentine’s Day came, Pam Zsori’s Ink & Peat home and floral shop was flooded with biker boys trying to cram organic bouquets into their messenger bags.
The next challenge for Kellogg and Fisco involves a building they bought for a dollar, a former sales office for a downtown condo project. Kellogg says he’s confident they’ll fill it with the right tenant. “We’ve already turned people down,” he says.