Block 216, the 35-story tower that is hitting the market just as Portland real estate hits the skids, has recruited an anchor tenant for the office portion of the building: Portland law firm Davis Wright Tremaine.
Most of the building is taken up by a Ritz-Carlton hotel (11 floors), Ritz-Carlton residences (the top 15 floors) and a Ritz restaurant and spa (two floors), but it also has five floors of office space coming to market in a city awash in empty space, thanks to permissive work-from-home policies and blight.
Colliers, the international real estate firm, pegs the vacancy rate for downtown Portland offices at 26.2%. In square feet, it’s enough to fill the U.S. Bancorp Tower (aka “Big Pink”) eight times.
“Block 216 is one of the largest private sector developments downtown in Portland, and the most complex construction project in Portland’s history,” Block 216 developer BPM Real Estate Group says on the building’s website. “On the outside, it’s a striking presence that will transform the way the world views the city. On the inside, it’s an inspiring space that will empower your team—productivity will soar.”
BPM Real Estate Group was founded in 1977 by Walter Bowen, who started building office towers and hotels after developing and buying 44 senior living communities, then selling 16 of them in order to diversify.
BPM broke ground on Block 216 on Southwest 10th Avenue between Washington and Alder in July 2019, eight months before COVID-19 sent millions of employees home from their offices nationwide and 10 months before the George Floyd protests turned into riots, prompting downtown shops and offices to board up windows.
Other developers are watching Block 216 to see if a plush new property can lure workers back downtown.
“Tenants are stepping up in an attempt up create a great environment for their employees in an effort to get them back to the office,” says Greg Goodman, whose family is among Portland’s largest landowners. Block 216 and 11W, another luxury office-residence tower, are both attracting tenants, he says.
Davis Wright Tremaine’s move is good news for Portland. The firm has been in its current space in the Wells Fargo Tower at Southwest 5th Avenue and Jefferson Street since 1990, and it easily could have followed other firms to Kruse Way in Lake Oswego, a hot spot for companies frustrated with downtown crime and Portland taxes.
“The firm has been in its current space since I was in middle school,” says Davis’ partner-in-charge Bill Miner. “While it is always a difficult decision to move, there was never a doubt that we would stay in this fantastic city.”
Davis’ big move to stay put still leaves Portland with more vacant space. Davis Wright Tremaine is taking 19,100 square feet in Block 216, a third of the 60,000 square feet it has in the Wells Fargo Tower.
At 460 feet, Block 216 is Portland’s fourth-tallest building. It has 158,000 square feet of office space.