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Water Tower: Redevelopment of the Year for Portland

March 27, 2024

The buildings around Portland, Oregon's historic water tower were charming but dated before developer ScanlanKemperBard took on the task of transforming the property into a hub of activity with modern offices and refreshed outdoor spaces.

The Portland-based developer re-imagined the nearly 4-acre property at 5331 S. Macadam Ave. in the city's Johns Landing district as a blend of the old and the new, ultimately transforming the area into a 111,500-square-foot modern office complex while preserving the historic landmark built in 1927.

The Water Tower project has spurred new office leasing, attracting businesses including dentists, construction firms and marketing agencies. The revival has also generated significant buzz as a catalyst for more development and prosperity in the neighborhood, achievements that helped earn the project a 2024 CoStar Impact Award, as judged by real estate professionals familiar with the market.

About the project: ScanlanKemperBard and its team focused on creating large outdoor spaces and offices with over-sized windows, upgraded mechanical systems and new landscaping. The renovations paid off in December as locally based Fortis Construction leased 19,000 square feet, with plans to bring a large workforce to the revitalized Water Tower complex.

What the judges said: "This redevelopment has overcome tremendous challenges and represents an important landmark for this neighborhood," wrote Julia Freybote, associate professor of finance and real estate at Portland State University's School of Business. "This project is leveling up the Johns Landing area and hopefully will inspire some of the other office ownership groups in the area, because the location and parking should attract companies looking to stay within the broad CBD area," added Cresa's Kelsey Machuca.

They made it happen: ScanlanKemperBard's Steve Wong is the asset manager and SKB's Kimberly Spain is the property manager. Scott Edwards Architecture designed the project and Lorentz Bruun Construction was the general contractor.