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PORTLAND-Pat Prendergast could have been half way done with a partially preleased, 80,000-sf office building in the Pearl District had he made a different decision at the beginning of the 2001. The fateful decision was to risk losing his only pre-committed tenant by delaying construction in order to redesign the project and take advantage of height bonuses not previously available. Now instead of an 80,000-sf project, Prendergast can develop a 148,000-sf office building on the site.

Prendergast indeed lost the one signed tenant as a result of the change, but instead of an office building going up in a down economy less than 20% preleased, he now has a 148,000-sf office building fully permitted and ready to go up quickly when the economy rebounds. The site, served by the city’s new trolley, is just off the new Lovejoy Street ramp, in an area filling with high-end condominiums, apartments and retail.

When Prendergast broke ground on the project at 10th Avenue and Lovejoy in late 2000, he had no signed tenants and plans for an 80,000-sf, six-story project to be completed at the end of 2001. It quickly became less speculative when leasing agent Mark Fraser of Colliers International signed Young & Roehr for the second floor of the project and a portion of the first.

Just before Prendergast was to begin pouring concrete, however, the city decided to extend a height bonus on nearby properties to Prendergast’s property and several others. Having wanted to go higher in the first place, Prendergast happily had Bob Thompson of Thompson Viavoda & Assoc. redesign the building as a taller, skinnier office tower.

The changes not only altered the space Young & Roehr had signed on for, but it also pushed the project’s completion from the end of 2001 to the middle of 2002, six months later than Young & Roehr had planned to relocate from their current offices in the Skidmore Fountain Building. To try and ease the pain, Prendergast gave Young & Roehr its pick of floors in the redesigned building, but Y&R CEO Bob Warren, represented by Mike Thomas of Grubb & Ellis, ultimately decided to re-up at his existing digs for another year.

There is no specific timeline for the project anymore, only plans to secure tenants for about 40% of the space before moving forward. When the tenants are secured, Fraser tells GlobeSt.com that the project can be ready for tenants in just 16 months — ostensibly faster than most other planned but not yet permitted office projects will be able to guarantee prospective tenants.

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