By Jon Bell, Portland Business Journal
Barry Schlesinger summed up the Oregon Convention Center Hotel project simply and succinctly at a ground-breaking ceremony this morning.
“Today’s been a long time coming,” he said.
Schlesinger, a partner and owner of the real estate-focused Schlesinger Companies, was referencing not only the nearly 30 years that it’s taken to make a convention center hotel a reality, but also to his family’s 11-year involvement in the project. His firm owns the land where the hotel will be built and is selling it to Mortenson, the construction and development company that will build the hotel.
“It took all of us working together to carry this project through the toughest real estate market I have ever seen,” Schlesinger said.
Schlesinger was one of the leaders and officials who took the stage at the groundbreaking ceremony this morning at the site, which sits just north of the Oregon Convention Center. Joining him were Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Tom Hughes of Metro, Dan Mehls of Mortenson, Karis Stoudamire-Phillips of the Metropolitan Exposition and Recreation Commission, Tom Lander of Mortenson and Kimo Bertram of Hyatt.
Each thanked long lists of people who have worked for years to bring the Oregon Convention Center Hotel to fruition. The idea for one has percolated since the Convention Center itself was built in 1989, but finances, politics and even some legal challenges kept the project from advancing.
But everything started to finally line up over the past year or two, and now, the 600-room, $240 million Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center is on its way.
“We’re standing on the shoulders of many, many people and organizations … whose leadership and persistence and dedication brought us to this important moment, ” Wheeler said.
Though today’s groundbreaking was largely ceremonial, building permits have been issued and work is expected to get underway in earnest in the coming weeks.
The project is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs and an additional 950 hotel and hospitality jobs.
According to an analysis posted on Metro’s website, the new hotel is expected to attract between five and 10 new mid-sized conventions each year. It could also boost annual hotel business by 70,000 to 110,000 new room nights, kick up convention-related tourism spending to $600 million a year and generate more than $10.3 million in new state and local tax revenues.
Funding for the hotel will include $60 million in bonds backed by lodging tax revenue, $4 million from Metro, $10 million from lottery funds and $165 million from Hyatt and Mortenson.
It is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.
The Classic Brewpub: Ancestry Brewing
Southeast Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood can feel something like Northwest Portland circa 2005: low-key, but with signs of imminent growth everywhere you look. Opened last summer in the ground floor of a newish condo building, Ancestry embraces all these qualities. On weekday afternoons the Tualatin-based brewery’s second site is decidedly “Sunday Funday,” with locals leafing through newspapers while sipping on one of the pub’s 23 draughts or digging into a heaping burger, while unleashed dogs sprawl in the sunshine on the sidewalk. 8268 SE 13th Ave
MUST DRINK: The Legion Session IPA, a bright, easy-drinking vision of Portland’s signature style —MP
The Science Lab: Labrewatory
Taste something you love at Labrewatory? Too bad—it’s never coming back. The North Portland spot, a project from brewing equipment maker Portland Kettle Works, stocks its taps with experimental one-offs, made in collaboration with brewers from near and far. And, somewhat stunningly, the approach succeeds more often than it flops: a recent visit yielded a well-balanced farmhouse saison; a slightly spicy stout pepped up with Mexican chocolate and cinnamon, and a lovely, low-ABV yuzu sour. The décor is modern farmhouse dungeon: lots of salvaged wood and steel, with a few nods to science, including metal-ringed Edison bulbs that recall atomic particles (or, according to a friend, “bondage orbs”). 670 N Russell St
MUST DRINK: The taplist is always changing, so order whatever looks weird—say, a blond sour aged in tequila barrels and finished with Sencha green tea—and cross your fingers. —RJ
The Slabtown Surveyor: Breakside Northwest
A city gets what it needs when it needs it; right now we need a perch to watch Slabtown transform. Breakside’s high-ceilinged, glossy-finished new outpost rallies this Northwest pocket’s rapidly growing population of residents and workers: when the sun shines, the garage doors swing up, bar-side talk turns to real estate, and the surrounding construction sites just seem like scenery. Meanwhile, sparkling seasonals flow—the piquant, muscular Rhymes With Blood Orange IPA, for example, packs a zip code full of citrus. 1570 NW 22nd Ave
MUST DRINK: The IPA-heavy list rarely disappoints. If it’s still on tap, try June’s Rainbows & Unicorns, a session IPA that glimmers and shimmers with pineapple and peach. —ZD
The Wheatless Walk-Up: Moonshrimp Brewing
Convenience has never been a hallmark of Portland craft. But scoring a bottle of Moonshrimp is not easy even by local standards. Opened last April, the tiny two-barrel operation sells 22 oz bottles from its walk-up window on the side of a lime-green building in Southwest and only on Tuesdays. (You can also find Moonshrimp at a few select bottle shops in town.) In his defense, owner Dan McIntosh-Tolle says he likes to “see things differently.” Where others see a man in the moon, he sees a shrimp. (Hence the name.) After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, McIntosh-Tolle whipped up an addictive, adaptable gluten-free recipe using water, vegan beet sugar, and millet, yielding fruity, wine-like “ales” similar to brettanomyces—“Brett”—beers. 8428 SW 22nd Ave
MUST DRINK: The Starlight White Ale, a crisp, dry ale with slightly tangy, orange notes. —MN
The Industrial Outpost: Sasquatch Brewery and Taproom
Owner and brewer Tom Sims has been pouring classic Northwest ales at his Hillsdale brewpub since 2011. But after opening this 4,000-square-foot, 15-barrel, 22-tap expansion in industrial Northwest this spring, Sims and head brewer Mike Paladino plan a renewed assault on Portland’s beer scene, sallying forth with lagered beers, barrel-aged ales and ciders, and, soon, bottles. Clean white tiles and dark woods bestow a lively modern vibe on the space, with an outdoor patio in the works. Local artist Chris Bigalke painted a bright, wall-size mural to honor the tasting room’s best feature: its location. With the Aspen and Wild Cherry trailheads just minutes away, Sasquatch hopes to become the post-hike destination for thirsty Forest Parkers. 2531 NW 30th Ave
MUST DRINK: The Grapefruit IPA, a tart citrus spin on the Northwest classic, signaling Sasquatch’s experimental mood. —MP
The Drive-By Surprise: Ross Island Brewing
In the scrum of rush hour, car commuters flow past the drab cinderblock structure just southeast of the Powell Boulevard bridgehead. That’s fine; brewmaster Carston Haney (formerly of Alameda Brewing) seems to be banking instead on Brooklyn neighborhood foot traffic. Varied locals sip his remarkably well-balanced British styles in a five-month-old taproom awash in quirk: all vintage frontiersman accoutrements and air plants. Do the mounted wooden paddles presage a coming flood of interest? 730 SE Powell Blvd
MUST DRINK With notes of chocolate and coffee, Ben’s Porter is a can’t miss. —RD
The Northern Reaches: Royale Brewing & Garrison Tap Room
Hard by the train tracks down a dead-end street north of NE Lombard, in a ramshackle building that also includes a metal workshop and a theater, Royale Brewing’s industrial-feel tasting room sits snug against its 15-barrel brewhouse. Hours change with the day and the season, but Mondays can bring a flock of pedalers headed to or from the bike races at nearby PIR, with numbered racers enjoying a discount on pints of Royale’s dependable classics (a Bavarian-style pilsner, a golden Fat Unicorn pale). Five miles away, Royale’s Garrison Tap Room, abutting the Sudra and 87th and Meatballs on the main drag of St. Johns, is an indoor-outdoor spread with picnic tables and a clear-roofed patio (kids allowed outside only), the garage door–style windows open for a clear view of the sportsball on the TV and projector screen inside. 55 NE Farragut St (brewery), 8773 N Lombard St (Garrison)
MUST DRINK: The citrusy seasonal Willamette Stone Summer Ale, a cloudy wheat number with Meridian hops and just the right amount of tang —MS
The Patio of Dreams: Wayfinder Beer
Crowds already flock to this Central Eastside brew complex from Double Mountain cofounder Charlie Devereux and the dudes behind Sizzle Pie and Podnah’s Pit—with nary a sip of house suds on tap. From the brawny tap hall’s huge, crazy-angled cedar deck and hearty roster of wood-fire-grilled comfort grub to 16 taps of German-inspired brews—it’s a hoppy pleasure palace. But by summer, Wayfinder brewmaster Kevin Davey (Gordon Biersch, Firestone Walker) finally gets to show off his own beers, primarily clean German- and Czech-style lagers as well as IPAs to start. (A pale lager and IPA dropped in early June.) “I trained in Germany ... I’ve got lager street cred,” laughs the brewer, who ran the popular lager operation Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham, Washington. “Expect to see some great traditional beers. It’ll be like a trip back to Europe.” 304 SE Second Ave
MUST DRINK: For now, guzzle a Snufflefluffagus, the brewery’s hop-dizzy “Dank IPA” collaboration with Zoiglhaus. —KC
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• Take a salsa-making class at SE Portland restaurant Xico
• Sign up for an art class at Carter and Rose
• Visit Washington Park’s International Rose Garden