A Denver-based developer will likely head up one of the most prominent development projects in all of Portland.
Prosper Portland is expected to select Continuum Partners LLC as the preferred development partner to lead the development of the 32-acre Broadway Corridor, which includes the 14-acre post office site at 715 N.W. Hoyt St. and several other nearby properties.
Based in Denver, Continuum describes itself as "a national leader in large scale, mixed-use, urban projects." The company’s list of projects includes everything from apartments and hotels to new neighborhood districts. Continuum also served as the master developer on the $500 million Denver Union Station Transit Center redevelopment. That 14-year project is credited with spurring as much as $2 billion worth of development, including hotels, offices, shops and restaurants, hotels and apartments and condominiums.
"This is a huge project and this is a big decision," said Kyra Straussman, director of development and investment for Prosper Portland.
Back in November, Prosper Portland issued a request for qualifications looking for developers who had the experience to head up the long-term planning and development effort for Broadway Corridor. The list was narrowed to three finalists in March, including Continuum, a team headed up by McWhinney — also a Denver company — and the New York based Related Companies.
Prosper Portland officials, city partners and a 43-member steering committee vetted the finalists and wound up choosing Continuum. Prosper Portland commissioners will consider the recommendation of Continuum at its meeting on Wednesday.
At the same meeting, Prosper Portland is also expected to approve a $2.1 million contract with ZGF Architects for consulting over the next 16 months on a master plan for the Broadway Corridor project.
Straussman said that Continuum rose to the top of the list over the other finalists despite the fact that the developer’s pitch didn’t include local partners. McWhinney’s submission listed the James Beard Public Market and TEDx Portland among its local team members; it was also working with local developer Beam Development. Related Companies’ team included Melvin Mark Companies and Central City Concern.
"Some folks felt very positively and warmly about the teams that put together the local partners," Straussman said. "Continuum took a totally different tack and said we see ourselves at the beginning of initiating a partnership with you. Some liked that more open-ended approach that Continuum brought."
The selection of Continuum will find the developer negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Prosper Portland. No money will change hands, but Straussman said Continuum did have to make a commitment of their own funds for pre-development in its submission.
The developer also had to be willing to enter a community benefit agreement as part of the qualification process. Such agreements require developers to provide certain benefits or amenities to local communities.
Continuum, ZGF and other subcontractors will work on developing the master plan for Broadway Corridor over the next 16 months. The resulting plan, according to Straussman, will be "a definition of our aspirations for the development of all the properties that are in the Broadway Corridor." It will also size up transit options, housing, public amenities and a host of other considerations.
An initial framework plan for Broadway Corridor, developed in 2015, envisioned 4 million square feet of mixed-use space on the post office site alone. Development of the post office property, according to the original Broadway Corridor RFQ, is expected to generate more than $1 billion in development value and investment.
Prosper Portland’s earlier framework plan for the corridor also envisioned approximately 2,100 new housing units, including 700 that would be affordable.
Straussman said a main goal moving forward on the Broadway Corridor development process will be "radical transparency."
"This project started with active listening at the grass-roots level," she said. "There will be countless portals for folks to give their opinions. It’s an example, not just for Portland but for the whole country, of how you can do large-scale development in a community-driven way."