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Revived office campus brings a suburban setting to the edge of downtown

Portland Business Journal

By Jon Bell

It's not often that downtown office buildings get touted for their more suburban attributes, but those may be among the most attractive selling points for a revamped office complex in a pocket just outside the downtown core.

Now known as the Crossing at First, the roughly 250,000-square-foot campus includes three buildings at the block bounded by Southwest First Avenue and Southwest Arthur Street: the two buildings formerly known as CDK Plaza and the adjacent Marquam Building. California real estate firm Bixby Land Company purchased CDK Plaza last year for $33.4 million and the Marquam Building earlier this year for nearly $10.9 million.

"We've got this nice little suburban environment in this urban setting," said Chris Johnson, an executive vice president with Colliers International who, along with Colliers associate Robert Greenfield and senior vice president MaryKay West, is handling the leasing of the property.

What gives the campus its suburban flair is primarily its ample parking. The parking ratio is three spaces per 1,000 square feet — nearly triple what most downtown buildings offer. Despite the push for mass transit and bike access in today's office setting, that kind of parking amenity is still desirable for a lot of companies, Greenfield said.

"We talk to a lot of tenants who need to be in a central location because of their employee base and their clients, but they can't accommodate the parking," he said. "Here they can."

Bixby, which has completed more than 30 office building redesigns in California since 2010, has launched an $8 million revamp of the buildings, including improvements to the lobbies, corridors and the parking garage. The exterior is also being updated, and the existing bike room is being relocated and expanded with showers and towel service.

The Portland office of IA Interior Architects is behind the design of the project. One of the other big draws to the campus is its acre of outdoor space. The revamp aims to better activate an outdoor plaza with seating, fire pits, covered areas and, likely, a rotating lineup of food carts. There's also potential for a new food vendor on site.

As far as available space, the Colliers team noted that there will be about 31,000 square feet of space in the former CDK Plaza buildings by year's end; about 30,000 square feet is currently available in the former Marquam Building.

The revamp should wrap up in October.

"A few people we've shown (the renderings) to thought it was a new development," Greenfield said. "It'll be a big transformation."