May 28, 2013
A busy boulevard in Northeast Portland is being transformed
by several developers with mixed-use projects
Sam Tenney/DJC
Works is under way in the former Teen Challenge USA building to transform it into the Bindery – a mixed-use space. The project is
one of several moving forward along Northeast Sandy Boulevard. Sasha Kirovski, above left, and Zeljko Grahovac are developing
the renovation of the building. ‘Just by looking at Sandy, it doesn’t take much to figure out this is the next thing to happen,’
Grahovac said.
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Sandy Boulevard is about to pop.
At least that’s what a handful of developers adamantly
believe; they’re snatching up real estate along the Northeast Portland thoroughfare. For years, it was dominated
by auto dealerships, used car lots and strip malls. Now
investors are envisioning new opportunities for the innercity corridor.
“Within 24 months (as the recession waned), blocks
and blocks of major buildings completely emptied out,”
said Tod Breslau, a broker with Premiere Property Group.
“Franchises were lost by the dealers, and all of a sudden
you had this long street of interesting buildings that were
now empty.”
However, buildings aren’t remaining empty. Breslau
is working with project owners Zeljko Grahovac and
Sasha Kirovski on a million-dollar-plus renovation of
the former Teen Challenge USA building at Northeast
31st Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. A large, underground winery will serve as the anchor tenant, retailers will occupy the first floor and creative office users
will occupy the second. Construction of the Bindery is
scheduled to finish in July.
Grahovac and Kirovski are longtime friends who met in
Portland in the early 1990s, after emigrating from the
what was Yugoslavia. They
said the city’s preference for
food and drink and its
pedestrian-oriented pace
remind them of life in
Europe. Also, they think
redevelopment will continue
to gain traction throughout
lesser developed neighborhoods.
“Just by looking at Sandy, it
doesn’t take much to figure
out this is the next thing to
happen,” said Grahovac,
who formerly was a designer
with LRS Architects. “It’s happening right now. There’s a
lot of interest from other developers and projects going
on now.”
One belongs to Guerrilla Development Co., the new
name for the business led by developer, designer and
property owner Kevin Cavenaugh. He said he never
thought he’d be bullish on Sandy Boulevard.
“We’re kind of all discovering it at the same time,” he
said. “It’s not unlike that gal that nobody notices in high
P O R T L A N D, O R E G O N
school and then everyone wants to go to prom with her.”
In April, Cavenaugh purchased the former Vic Alfonso
Cadillac used car lot at Northeast 27th Avenue and Sandy
Boulevard for $600,000. He plans to construct a building –
the Zipper – similar to the Ocean at Northeast 24th Avenue
and Glisan Street. Kirovski is participating in the project.
At the moment, Cavenaugh is envisioning a $1.9 million
development filled with four micro-restaurants, a bar and a
coffee/donut shop. One of the funky design features will be
a series of fins on the building’s facade. Cavenaugh plans to
paint each fin with an image that appears to move as one
drives past – like a cartoon in a flip book.
Guerrilla also has money in escrow to purchase the
building that Voodoo Doughnut co-founder Tres Shannon
had hoped to open in 2011 as the Portland P Palace. Costly
seismic upgrades put a wrinkle in that plan; the building
has since sat vacant.
Cavenaugh sees room for multiple micro-retailers – in
this case he’s thinking women’s clothing and apparel. He
doesn’t have grand illusions about Sandy Boulevard
becoming the next Hawthorne Boulevard or Division
Street, but with substantial traffic and the Laurelhurst,
Irvington, Buckman, Kerns and Alameda neighborhoods
close by, he does see potential.
“Sandy will always be Sandy,” he said. “If I fought what
Sandy is, it would be to my own detriment. But at 28,000
cars per day, there’s got to be a benefit to that.”
Cavenaugh is preparing
to apply for a permit for the
“We’re kind of all
Zipper. He also is planning
discovering it at the
to build a micro-retail
building in the parking lot
same time. It’s not
next to the Ocean, and do
unlike that gal that
something “fun” with a
nobody notices in
building at Northeast 67th
high school and then Avenue and Sandy Bouleeveryone wants to go vard.
A couple of blocks from
to prom with her.”
the Bindery site, Grahovac
– KEVIN CAVENAUGH and Kirovski plan to convert
Developer, designer and property owner
the Hollywood Motel into
micro-apartments; work
will begin in the next couple of months. They’re also
working on plans to renovate a 32,000-square-foot
cardboard box factory nearby into a light industrial
version of the Bindery. That could include space for
wineries, food production companies and distilleries.
In December, Breslau and owners of the Mattress Lot
at 2406 N.E. Sandy Blvd. bought the former Timberline
Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership building at 2500 N.E.
Sandy Blvd. The purchase price was $2 million, according to records obtained from First American Title
Reprinted from the Daily Journal of Commerce.
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Sam Tenney/DJC
The Zipper, a mixed-use building featuring restaurants and retailers,
is planned by developer Kevin Cavenaugh on a Northeast Sandy
Boulevard lot.
Insurance Co. Breslau said the plan is to convert the
20,000-square-foot building into a mix of retail and
office space.
Breslau said synergy is already building among
businesses along Sandy Boulevard. It started with
Voodoo Doughnut opening a store on the corner of
Northeast Davis Street. Then See See Motor Coffee Co.
opened in a space a couple of blocks north, followed
by Children’s Gym across the street. One of the newest
businesses to locate on Sandy is a bar, called Church,
at Northeast 26th Avenue.
Breslau said room remains for others to stake
their claim.
“You have a massive amount of vacancy with large
buildings that take creative developers to figure out what
to do with on a street that has been overlooked for several
decades,” he said. “This is just the beginning. In 12 months
I’ll be able to double that story.”