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Portland Tribune, January 24, 2003

Urban Residential Redux

by Nicole Marri

From converted industrial warehouses in the Pearl District to revamped condos on the Willamette River, urban types prepared to spend are finding that downtown living in Portland isn't limited to brand-new "loft" buildings. Some of the most unique and appealing residential spaces up for grabs are actually refurbished buildings constructed long before the Pearl District became the hip, high-end neighborhood it is today.

Here's a glimpse of downtown dwellings with a past that have been cleverly adapted to meet the needs of contemporary urbanites.

The Marshall-Wells Lofts (sales offices at 1001 NW 14th Ave. 503-223-2255) is a recent and impressive addition to this category. Originally the Marshall-Wells Hardware Co. warehouse, built in 1910, this historic building--with a water tower perched on top--takes up a block on Northwest 14th Avenue between Lovejoy and Kearney streets on the edge of the Pearl District. It was converted recently under the direction of historic preservationist Robert Ball, a Portland real estate investor.

The building has 164 classic loft units ranging from 633 square feet to more than 2,800 square feet, including six townhouses and 19 two-story penthouses. Prices start around $200,000 and go up to roughly $800,000. Residents began moving in last fall; occupancy is about 87 percent, with roughly 20 units still available.

Due to the building's historic status, buyers get a significant break on property taxes. Also, many of the original features of the building--sturdy, exposed-wood beams and posts, for example--lend character and a sense of history to the units, which have new windows, kitchens, bathrooms, wood and cork floors and other updated features. A metal package chute from the building has even been incorporated into a water fountain in the 4,500-square-foot atrium at the center of the building. Buyers have chosen their own cabinet and flooring, and some have hired designers to customize the rest of their space. Secure, covered parking, same-block Central City Streetcar access, pet-friendliness and stunning views are a few of the other perks.

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