While the Pearl District continues to flourish with up-and-coming tech companies, there is another neighborhood experiencing a similar tech growth just on the other side of the Willamette River.
On Sept. 28, Vancouver-based developer Killian Pacific unveiled the finished Clay Creative project, a modern, five-story building designed as a creative workspace – now occupied by Simple, an online banking company based in Portland.
“Our vision at the time for this property and this project was certainly what you see today,” said Lance Killian, president of Killian Pacific to a crowd at the opening. “It was an authentically designed building that would fit in the neighborhood.”
Clay Creative began as a collaboration between Killian Pacific, Ankrom Moisan Architects and Metro. Though Killian Pacific wanted to pre-lease the building before breaking ground, Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development Program's financial support helped Killian Pacific begin construction.
Metro’s grant program, which provides support for development projects within Metro's boundaries that promote “economic feasibility” in places served by transit, provided $300,000 toward the $21.8 million project.
“We always found Metro to be very collaborative – it felt like our interests were aligned from the get-go,” Killian said. “I would say that their support, being in a cheerleader position and their support financially, was one of the things that led us to the decision to sa,y ‘OK, we’re going to pull the trigger and build this building,’ on a speculative basis.”
Those projects, Killian said, are much riskier than projects that already have a tenant lined up.
“This project is a great example of the power of public-private collaborations,” he said. “These situations are two plus two equals more than four.”
At the inaugural event, Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette said Clay Creative is an example of how jobs can be created in the city. Before their move to the inner Southeast Portland district, Simple’s headquarters was located in the Pearl District.
“In Clackamas County, there’s still this mentality that we have to build big industrial manufacturing sites out in farmlands, outside the urban growth boundary in order to attract jobs to our region,” Collette said.
Killian Pacific is constructing a second building adjacent to Clay Creative. It will also be occupied by Simple.
“Not only are you getting the 300, 400, 500 jobs, you’re doubling that with the project across the street, or across the parking lot. It’s just great,” Collette said.
Jon Williams, a project manager at Metro, said the building’s location and the nearby streetcar and MAX Orange Line created a good opportunity to support an office building where it will be convenient for employees to walk, bike or use transit.
The 60,000-square-foot building is LEED-certified for its sustainability features, the 60,000 square foot building features high ceilings, timber beams, open floorplans, shower/locker rooms and bike parking spaces that are currently overflowing.
“In addition to being located near great transit options, the project includes a secure bike room for 92 bikes, showers, and 95 on-site parking spaces,” Williams said. “Employees are choosing to bike or ride transit so much that, even though the office space is fully occupied, the (motor vehicle) parking lot has empty spaces.”
As more creative companies continue to move to the Central Eastside Industrial District, Killian says he is hopeful the community will continue to grow in a positive direction.
“I think it brings a level of vitality to this mini neighborhood that didn’t exist, which is great for other businesses,” said Killian Pacific president Lance Killian said. “Our main interest was to create economic vitality, and advancing the community is certainly our purpose as a company.”