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PORTLAND, OR-The region’s newest shoe company, Keen Footwear, is looking for an old building on the east side of the city that it can convert for use as its new headquarters. Currently located on the east side of San Francisco Bay, the growing company has decided it wants a lower cost of living for its employees and, in an effort to grow efficiently, greater proximity to a well-stocked pool of toe box talent. It also wanted to surround itself with the outdoors.

Keen chief executive Charles Drummond tells GlobeSt.com his objective is to find an historic building. “One that we can renovate and add a lot of charm and greenness to and make our home for the next five to 10 years,” he says. “We’re looking at a couple possibilities on the Central Eastside.”

The selection and renovation process is expected to take up to two years. Meantime, it’s looking for about 20,000 sf of temporary space it can be in as soon as April. “We’re looking for value,” he says with regard to the temporary location. “We don’t necessarily need to be close [to the building it will be renovating] and a Downtown high rise isn’t really what we want to be, even short term.”

Keen has had runaway sales since it was founded in 2003. 2004 revenue was $30 million, and that figure is on pace to more than double in 2005. The shoes are sold by more than 1,000 retailers nationwide.

Drummond says Keen needs between 40,000 sf and 60,000 sf for its new headquarters to accommodate expected growth. If the building it finds is larger than that, it will consider subleasing the excess space.

There are about 20 footwear companies in the greater Portland area. The most well known are Nike and Adidas America. Others include Nautilus Footwear and LaCrosse Footwear, which also manufactures the Danner Shoe brand.

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