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Photos: More space coming for light industrial tenants

October 12, 2018

Story by Sam Tenney, Daily Journal of Commerce

A second phase of core-and-shell improvements is wrapping up as part of a project to convert a pair of Southeast Portland buildings into light industrial and maker space. The Iron Fireman Collective, as the project is now known, consists of two joined buildings on Southeast 17th Avenue in the Brooklyn neighborhood. The structures were originally built as furnace factories, and most recently used by airplane parts maker PECO Manufacturing; it put them on the market following the expansion of Southeast 17th Avenue for TriMet’s orange line.

John Olivier, a senior vice president in acquisitions and development for project owner SkanlanKemperBard, says the firm saw potential in the buildings’ structure and location.

“We thought that it would be a great location for a lot of these craft manufacturers and makers that just can’t find space anymore in the central eastside – certainly not affordable space,” he said. “We’ve got good parking, which is tough to find in the Central Eastside, as well.”

SkanlanKemperBard purchased the buildings in early 2016 and set about renovating the first of the two structures, a 108,000-squarefoot industrial building completed in the mid-1920s. General contractor Lorentz Bruun Construction carried out a Mackenzie-designed core-and-shell renovation of the building, which included restoration of historic elements such as exposed masonry and oldgrowth timber beams. It also included seismic upgrades, a partial roof replacement, and installation of new demising walls to create tenant spaces, a large main hallway, roll-up doors, and space for restrooms/showers.

That work was completed last year, and tenants including a brewery, an apparel designer, a robotics manufacturing and design group and a retail merchandiser have moved in. The second phase of work has involved the renovation of the north building, a 35,000-squarefoot former warehouse that was connected to the south building via a garage roof. Second-phase work includes adjoining the two buildings with new ramps and stairs as well as construction of shell tenant spaces, and restoring historic industrial elements. Painted beams and columns were sandblasted to expose wood grain and large windows were restored.

Nine units are being built in the current phase, three of which will be turnkey spaces; the remaining six will be basic core-and-shell spaces. Additional work includes dividing a larger tenant space that was completed with the first phase into multiple “maker space” areas.

“We’re doing much smaller bays where folks can come in and rent space on a shorter-term basis that’s a little more affordable,” Olivier said.

SKB is also weighing whether to convert some of the space – likely second-floor areas that were formerly used as offices – into smaller art studios. “We know there’s been a need because of conversion of some other buildings that used to have a lot of the artists,” Olivier said. “There’s not really a collective, synergistic place for them to go closer in.”

Lorentz Bruun Construction’s work on the core-and-shell portion of the project is slated to wrap this month. Then the firm will continue with some tenant improvement work.