Union pension funds are financing a $103 million redevelopment of Block 137, also referred to as the Wizer Block, in downtown Lake Oswego. The location was once home to unionized Wizer’s Oswego Foods supermarket.
Seven building trades unions have about $50 million in direct pension funds invested in the project. They are Sheet Metal Workers, Glaziers, Floor Coverers, Carpenters, Bricklayers, Painters, and Electrical Workers.
Block 137 is a 290,000-square-foot, four-story mixed-use project with 200 upscale apartment units, nearly 43,000 square feet of commercial space, and 430 underground parking spaces, of which 155 spaces will be public parking. Developers are targeting a LEED green building Gold certification.
It is a 100 percent union job —expected to generate more than 1 million hours of construction work over 24 months. It is slated for completion in fall 2017.
“That’s a lot of jobs, and a lot of training for our apprenticeship programs,” said Willy Myers, executive secretary of the Columbia Pacific Building Trades Council.
Block 137 is a joint venture between the Multi-Employer Property Trust and PHK Development. Bentall Kennedy is the real estate adviser for MEPT. Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor.
MEPT is a real estate equity fund with 327 pension fund clients. The company has a responsible contractor policy that requires all contractors working on its portfolio properties be signatory with trade unions. Eleven properties in Oregon make up a portion of their portfolio. Those 11 investments have created 6 million work hours, with an economic impact of over $1 billion.
Amy Price, president and chief operating officer of Bentall Kennedy, said Block 137 aligns perfectly with their investment strategy of finding projects that perform well over the long term.
“The Portland area is on everyone’s radar,” she said at a gathering at the jobsite March 8 with union officials, local politicians, and developers.
Myers said the building trades are eager to deliver projects “that not only we’re proud of, but projects the community will be proud of. Block 137 is a prime example.”