If you’ve walked or driven down MLK towards Broadway at night you may have noticed the illuminating lights of the rehabbed green building known as the Boxlift Building. The olive green building recently was completely renovated through a financial and technical assistance from the Portland Development Commission. The Boxlift, located two blocks north of the future Streetcar and a block from Tiny’s at Tillamook, signals a key piece in the walkable, mainstreet feeling on this section of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The remaining 7000 (+/-) square feet of space to be leased in the building, offers a question for Eliot: does Martin Luther King start to act as meeting places that link Eliot residents to Irvington and Boise? Can residents finally enjoy destinations in Eliot by safely crossing through busy, car-dominated streets?
The Boxlift Building is a mixed-use building sector that signifies the goals of neighborhood economic development. The rehab of the Boxlift offers potential retail and employment space for small business owners in Northeast and beyond. The first floor of the building contains two occupied spaces, Strut Salon, and Journey Fitness, sales store demonstrating a product sold to hotels and corporations. According to Dennis George, the building owner, the remaining 7,000 (+/-) square feet available could potentially be divided into three separate rentable spaces. These prime sections of the building offer street frontage and a wall of windows onto a side parking lot, a clear advantage for drive by retail. Josh Bean, with Doug Bean & Associates, the Building’s leasing agent, and the owner, see the potential for a variety of uses including a neighborhood restaurant. Josh Bean says “We are hoping to attract a restaurant, bakery, or café concept for the prime corner space which will provide an amenity to the other tenants in the building and the neighborhood alike. We have some flexibility on size, but the corner 2,200 (+/-) square foot space has excellent visibility and is a good size for a local neighborhood type eatery.” The building also sits across MLK from the Gateway and Heritage Marker pedestrian-way and park under construction as part of the PDC-funded Master Plan. The goals of these two projects are similar—to create vitality for economic development while improving the pedestrian experience and drawing on the multicultural identity of Eliot and Northeast Portland.
The Boxlift represents the future of Eliot’s potential for redevelopment, small business development and improved livability through partnerships with developers. The Boxlift offers a sample of the challenges of redevelopment in Eliot: careful planning is necessary in order to develop “green” features, for example, leaving surfaces bare rather than tiling them is more environmentally sound. Funding also supported the new seismic upgrades, and the spacious windows, all of which attract retail, showroom and office users. Retaining the building as mixed-use was achieved by retaining the second story artist lofts in this exciting mixed-use commercial space. PDC funded this commercial mixed-use project to leverage the Streetcar and help develop business, for a combined subsidy of loans and grants of just over $530,000.
The Boxlift Building, built in 1929, used to have parking upstairs, then was converted to a warehouse with printer which necessitated the mechanical addition of a “boxlift” instead of an elevator for freight. Mr. George added several windows and a door on the southside which now leads up set of stairs to the 15 artist workspaces for rent. Currently, there is only one unit vacant for the artist spaces, which includes safe disposal and flammable materials areas as well as showers for the working artists. The windows and high ceilings as well as ample wall space make these spaces attractive as working/gallery space.
There is one unit available that rents at about $995 per month, fully supported with utilities. Besides working artists, the Boxlift has attracted some retail and the sales office of a Journey Fitness on the first floor. The Boxlift is currently looking to lease the remaining 7,000 (+/-) square feet.