Newport Lofts: Making Changes in a Changing Market

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The slumping residential real estate market throughout Central Oregon has tested the creativity, flexibility and patience of realtors, brokers, bankers and lenders, not to mention those who helped design the landscape of the high desert.
Contractors, subcontractors, engineers and architects have all been impacted by the slowdown.
For architect Jim Landin of GGL Architecture, LLC, the stagnant market meant adjusting and re-designing a planned residential-retail project along Newport Avenue after a long period of planning and designing when developer Brad Fraley became nervous in current market conditions.
The project included five loft residential units approved by the City of Bend’s Planning Department that were ultimately scratched and revised into office space in a move that is paying off at Newport Lofts just east of Newport Avenue Market.
The two-level, 9,800-square-foot contemporary building with its trio of distinctive cupolas on the rooftop, has already attracted a law firm that has signed a letter of intent for the 5,200 square feet on the second floor that was originally designed for five small living spaces.
For Landin, the change was all in a
day’s work.
“The building had been approved and was fully designed for permits when the owner (Brad Fraley) got a little nervous about the market,” he said. “He asked what could be done to save the project without the residential piece. He simply didn’t have the comfort range that the residential lofts would readily sell, which is understandable in today’s market.”
The conversion was relatively simple since the changes did not impact the exterior of the building. The plans remained almost identical once the five exterior stairways that led to the lofts where trimmed to two for the revised commercial space along with some minor modifications.
“Most of the changes were an ‘erasing thing’ that reduced the upstairs to blank space,” Landin said. “We kept the open ceiling that gives the building a strong urban look and the three cupolas that Brad originally suggested in our design meetings continued to add lots of natural lighting to the space.”
The downstairs retail remained intact with five flexible spaces bordering Newport Avenue and its high-traffic volume and strong storefront presence offering 800 square feet for upscale shops and high-end businesses.
Four rear entries off the south parking lot lead to the bottom floor coupled with five formal entries on Newport Avenue plus six additional parking spaces that were created at the north side of the building.
The block, steel and concrete building has two “faces” with a strong urban look facing Newport Avenue and the south end feeling more residential with lap siding and sloped roofing.
There are 27 total parking spaces and four restrooms and the main entry elevator easily connects to the second floor.
Leasing agent Peter Menefee said the project has been receiving calls from interested retail businesses and the upscale surrounding residential neighborhoods nearby make Newport Lofts an ideal location.
“January, February and March were slow commercially all over town, but things are starting to heat up,” he said. “I see a warming trend, and we’re definitely getting more calls on projects around town. Newport Lofts has a lot to offer, given its location, stylish urban look and high volume of traffic just outside the front door.”
Landin thinks the project will mark the start of a renaissance along the busy corridor that is bordered by two of the busiest roundabouts in Bend.
“Many of the neighboring businesses are old houses that have been converted into businesses,” he said. “What you have with Newport Lofts is a unique site and a sustainable building that will last 100 years or more. It’s as close to a Class A building as you can get without calling it a Class A building.
“Over time, the building will become a benchmark for this neighborhood. I think the character of the neighborhood from the Ninth to 14th Street Roundabouts will change over time with more buildings looking like this one in a move to a stronger urban look and feel.”

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