Portland skyline changes with topping out of 30-story high-rise

By Michael Gutwig, Editor & Manager

Executives from TNT Development sign an iron beam as members of Iron Workers Local 29 look on.
Executives from TNT Development sign an iron beam as members of Iron Workers Local 29 look on.

Members of Iron Workers Local 29 were surrounded by media and local dignitaries Feb. 19 for a topping out ceremony at Park Avenue West, a 546,000-square-foot building that features 13 floors of office space, 15 floors of apartments, and two floors of retail space.

At 504 feet, the 30-story union-built tower is the tallest structure erected in downtown Portland since the 1980s, said Mark Parsons, superintendent for general contractor Hoffman Construction. “This is the kind of thing that makes our country strong,” Parsons said.

The high rise will reach peak employment of 300 construction workers later this month.

Local 29 ironworkers James Marble and Doug Green attach the final steel beam to a cable from a tower crane operated by Anson Barrow of Operating Engineers Local 701.
Local 29 ironworkers James Marble and Doug Green attach the final steel beam to a cable from a tower crane operated by Anson Barrow of Operating Engineers Local 701.

The project also supported over 50,000 work-hours at Fought & Co., a  steel fabricator signatory with Iron Workers Shopmen’s Local 516. According to Larry Dykier of Fought, workers fabricated roughly 3,527 tons of structural steel and delivered 23,000 pieces to the project in 400 loads.

Seventy-eight union ironworkers had a hand in putting those pieces together — using 63,000 bolts. They placed the last beam Feb. 19 at the topping out ceremony.

“The Iron Worker Local 29 guys did a brilliant job on this thing,” said Kevin Patterson of REFA Erection. “Everybody went home safe.”

As is tradition, workers signed the beam, which is adorned with an American flag and an evergreen tree, before hoisting it to the top of the building (by Anson Barrow, a member of Operating Engineers Local 701) for placement.

The final beam at Park Avenue West is hoisted into place during a topping out ceremony Feb. 19.
The final beam at Park Avenue West is hoisted into place during a topping out ceremony Feb. 19.

“This was a dream of my grandfather’s for two decades,” said Vanessa Sturgeon, president and CEO of TMT Development.  Her grandfather, company founder Tom Moyer, died in November.

The high rise initially broke ground in 2008, just as the Great Recession hit. Work was halted in early 2009, which left a huge hole in the middle of the city for several years. TMT Development restarted the project in 2013. Sturgeon told the Labor Press Park Avenue West is on time and on budget. Apartments will be ready for move-in starting in January 2016. Office space will open in July 2016.

“I really enjoy working with the labor unions,” Sturgeon said. “They understand the balance between the business-side and the work-side. They’re smart and savvy. They protect their workers, but at the same time they’re reasonable.” 

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