Union pension funds finance new Portland office building

Pearl West Shovel-ready
Ben Nelson (left) of the Laborers Union and Willy Myers (second from left), executive secretary of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, were among nearly a dozen union officials attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the new union pension fund-financed Pearl West office building in Northwest Portland.

A groundbreaking ceremony with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was held July 18 for a new nine-story office building in the Pearl District that will be built 100 percent with union labor.

Financing for the $55.3 million Pearl West, located at Northwest 14th and Irving, is coming primarily from union pension funds. The project has a $41.74 million construction loan led by Washington Capital Management (just over $21 million), with participation from ULLICO (The Union Labor Life Insurance Company).

The investment will create about 610,000 work hours among all the union crafts.

Pearl West will be a nine-story, 230,000-square-foot LEED Silver building that will accommodate 700 people. The first floor will include 10,000 square feet of office space, available to rent form an office space rental agency. Three under-ground parking levels will provide 150 stalls, with parking made available for both tenants and the general public. There also will be secured space for 70 bicycles. New business might want to look into a corporate law firm who might be able to help them to get a lease for Pearl West, when it opens.

Other amenities include an executive conference room, restaurant, a living room-style lobby, shower and locker facilities, and an outside courtyard alongside Irving Street between Northwest 14th and 15th avenues. The building’s upper floors will have views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Saint Helens.

“This is a great project to be involved with,” said Randy Goodwin, vice president of Washington Capital Management.

“I’ve worked with the building trades for over 30 years in a number of different capacities, and I can tell you that the pride that they have when they’re building projects like this is beyond compare. And when they’re building a project with their pension fund dollars the pride is doubled or tripled. They really like what they’re doing; they like seeing the projects that their investment dollars are going to build. This is just a win for everybody.”

Willy Myers, executive secretary-treasurer of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council, said “It’s good to see our pension dollars at work, investing in our city and getting our members back to work.”

Ron Robbins, contract administrator for the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, added that “Nothing quite demonstrates our commitment to the City of Portland like this does — when we put our pension funds out there, those are dollars that hard-working Carpenter have earned on the jobsites.

“We’re ecstatic with the team that’s been assembled for this project.We know this is a winning group of folks. We’ve seen it again and again.”

Pearl West is being developed by BPM Real Estate Group. Howard S. Wright (HSW) Constructors is the general contractor. Design-build partners with HSW are McKinstry Mechanical, Dynalectric and Viking Sprinkler.

HSW announced at the groundbreaking that it will relocate its headquarters to the fourth floor of Pearl West after the project is completed. HSW has 150 employees.

Pearl West is slated for completion in early 2016.

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LEED certification

LEED — or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a green building certification program. Phil Beyl of GBD architects said there is a “strong passion” to get Pearl West to the LEED Gold level.

He also announced at the groundbreaking that he is in discussions with program leaders in New York to have Pearl West be a pilot project for a new national certification process called the Well Building Standard.

The Well Building Standard focuses on human wellness within a building’s environment. It identifies specific conditions, that when holistically integrated into building architecture and design, enhances the health and well-being of the occupants. “It works in careful alignment with LEED — it builds on LEED,” Beyl said.

If talks are successful, Pearl West would be the first building in Oregon — and possibly the first office building in the U.S., to implement the Well Building Standard.

Bricklayers Local 1 president Matt Eleazer and Cement Masons Local 555 business manager Brett Hinsley look at renderings of Pearl West. They liked what they saw — three floors of underground parking, and a 9-story brick facade. The project broke ground July 18.
Bricklayers Local 1 president Matt Eleazer and Cement Masons Local 555 business manager Brett Hinsley look at renderings of Pearl West. They liked what they saw — three floors of underground parking, and a 9-story brick facade. The project broke ground July 18.

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