The Oregon Sustainability Center didn’t happen. It won’t happen. There’s simply not the funding support from the government—or the private sector—to help realize the downtown Portland project.
So, say goodbye to the Oregon Sustainability Center for good. And the $62 million price tag that came with what proponents were calling one of the most sustainable multi-story buildings to ever be built (although, Seattle’s Bullitt Center would likely have a bit to say on that front too).
With its origins dating back to 2008, the official 2011 proposal of a roughly 130,000-sq-ft, seven-story “living building” came with high hopes for a new sustainable development showcase for Portland, but was always met with an uncertain financial future.
Sure, the center has been slowly suffocating itself on a lack of financial support for months, especially after the Oregon Legislature decided not to allow $37 million in state bonds to fund a significant portion of the project back in February, but lingering questions over the rentability of the space with extra-high costs have always been simmering.
The City of Portland and the Oregon University System, the other two entities on board with the center, still tried to make a go of things even after over half the center’s funding evaporated early in 2012.
The building, planned for the downtown campus of Portland State University, started to shrink slightly in scope and this fall a private investor, Interface Engineering, entered the fray as a possible private savior. Based in Portland, but with offices in Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and Abu Dhabi, the company was offering to come into the project as a major leaser of space and possibly a part owner in the project. But other city officials balked at the change, especially as Mayor Sam Adams, one of the largest proponents of the project, winds up his term in office (he is not running for a second term) this winter.
So, without much fanfare, the project died in October, without ample support from the agencies with the funds to make it happen.
Of course, Adams has spun the project as a win for the city’s building industry, saying companies have gained much-needed knowledge about sustainable building. And Interface, according to the Oregonian, is considering its own “living building” headquarters in Portland. But the end result of the Oregon Sustainability Center is one best left for the obituary pages. The project is dead.
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