Last month the Portland Design Commission approved a design for Capstone Development’s Grant Park Village, clearing the way for the multi-use project on the old Albina Fuel property on Northeast Broadway at 33rd Ave.
The project, Phase I of the redevelopment of the site, will include 45,000 square feet of retail space on Broadway, of which about two thirds will be a New Seasons grocery market. Above and behind this will be 211 rental housing units. Behind and below this will be 270 parking spaces accessed by a driveway on Broadway and an extension of Northeast Weidler Street.
This was Capstone’s fourth session before the Commission, including two voluntary Design Advisory discussions before they officially filed an application, and each time the Commission had asked for substantial changes. These included elimination of “sky walks” linking the five buildings into which the rental units are divided, elimination of common mail rooms, elimination of two large display signs for New Seasons, major changes in its exterior color and materials palette, and elimination of hardi-plank as one of these materials. This last, and its replacement with cement board and stucco, was a “major budget challenge” for the project, Capstone principal Jeff Sackett told the Commission. “The budget is now really tight, but we’re confident we can make it if we get your approval today.”
Even at the last session, there was a significant issue. A stair tower leading from Weidler to the residential units above squeezed the sidewalk to a passage just 42 inches wide, difficult for a wheelchair to negotiate. Architect Greg Mitchell said there were few good alternatives, but Commission member Jane Hanson made expansion of this piece of sidewalk to “at least six feet” a condition of approval. Another member, Jeff Simpson, said that for him the stairway was “not a deal killer”; he opposed Hanson’s amendment and ultimately cast the only vote against approval of the project because of it.
The Commission did approve several code adjustments, including a tower at the northeast corner 58 feet high (the height limit is 45 feet), two signs proclaiming Grant Park Village of 98 square feet (the limit is 32), and building just 105 housing units in a portion of the site zoned RX when the normal minimum would be 129.
Commission members praised the overall project. Tad Savinar said it filled “a gap between Hollywood and a less than desirable street frontage on Broadway.” Commission chair Gwen Millius said, “This has the potential to be an amazing catalyst. Right now this is one of the most underwhelming intersections in the city. There were two gas stations across the street, and a new addition (a Jackson’s convenience store) is even less enticing.” Referring to an earlier attempt to develop the site she said, “I went from hoping the project wouldn’t be built to wishing it well.”
Capstone representative Lauren Golden Jones says the company hopes to break ground in the spring.