Angela Allen

Clinton Condos

Summertime has arrived in Portland, and at the corner of Southeast Division Street and 26th Avenue, the highly anticipated Clinton Condominiums are buzzing with activity.

Foot traffic is moving through Little T American Baker, a ground-floor retail space that is offering a selection of breads and sandwiches even ahead of its grand opening. Classes are filling up fast at The Bhaktishop, a yoga studio that is also a ground-floor resident at the Clinton.

“People just seem to gravitate to this building,” said Eric Hagstette, the Meadows Group Realtors agent who is marketing the residential properties that will occupy the top three floors of the four-story Clinton. The building’s modern, radical-for-Portland design sparked controversy — some activists say it doesn’t fit the neighborhood — but now that it is close to being finished, the Clinton is selling briskly. Nineteen of its 27 one- and two-bedroom condos have sold, even without a completed model unit.

The condominiums will range in size from 880 to 1,470 square feet and in price from $269,900 to $539,500. Every condo—regardless of size or price—features the same luxurious materials and finishes, including walnut floors, butcher-block kitchen countertops, radiant-floor heating, high ceilings, five-point audio systems, stackable washers and dryers, and upscale appliances such as Philippe Starck tubs and toilets. The condos even feature wool bedroom carpeting and window coverings.

“It’s like a 1958 Cadillac. There are no options,” said developer Randy Rapaport. “You get everything at the beginning. It’s all dialed in.”

Winning team

The building comes from a team that made headlines four years ago with the innovative, award-winning Belmont Street Lofts. Rapaport and Holst Architecture’s John Holmes are continuing to push Portland architecture and living spaces to new places.

Besides the Belmont project, Holmes also designed the eco-friendly Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center (the Ecotrust Building), at 721 N.W. Ninth Ave; the Pacific Northwest College of Art in the Pearl District; and the Oregon Ballet Theatre, at Southeast Sixth Avenue and Morrison Street. His 937, a slender highrise with 114 units and a rooftop garden, is scheduled for completion late this year at 937 N.W. Glisan St. in the Pearl.

Rapaport acquired the site for the Clinton Condominiums in late 2005, when he purchased the historic Clay Rabbit House, which was moved a mile south. His vision was a stunning building with minimalist lines.

“It’s Mondrian meets Louis Kahn,” he says. Translation: Artist Piet Mondrian’s geometric, gridlike design combined with architect Kahn’s monumental, monolithical style, calibrated to a human scale. Holmes, who designed the condos with colleague Kim Wilson, describes the wood, steel and glass building as a thunder egg: a rough-skinned structure with a crystal core. The north and south facades of steel look gritty and tough (and will rust), while the west side appears crystalline. The exterior’s green angled glass separates one deck from another, an example of form meets function. The glass provides privacy and becomes luminous after dark.

The building is about great design, Rapoport said, but it’s also about creating community. “There’s no penthouse, no economy unit. It’s egalitarian, intelligent and inclusive.”

Monthly homeowners association (HOA) fees range from $205 to $345, depending on the size of the unit. The fee covers utilities except for electricity, phone and data (Internet access and digital cable television). Realtor Hagstette said he predicts the residential part of the project will sell out by the summer’s end.

“There is a great deal of buzz about it,” he said.

Eco-friendly

The Clinton has a number of features designed to save energy and lessen its impact on the environment. A storm-water-management system will move runoff through the building’s exterior landscaping before entering the drainage system. The radiant-floor heating is part of the building’s communal-hot-water system—all the hot water is shared between residents. Hagstette admitted he was skeptical as to how well the communal system would work.”I had my doubts, but it worked like a charm at Belmont Lofts,” he said.

Rapaport said good planning also helps lessen the building’s impact on the environment.”I put 27 homes on a mass-transit corner,” he said. “That saves a lot of energy.” Jessica Davis—a graphic artist, fan of modern architecture and buyer of a one-bedroom condo at The Clinton, said it was the building’s design, green features and quality that attracted her.”The building has sort of a timeless, classic quality. And they paid so much attention to details.”

Other future residents hail from San Francisco, New York City, Boulder, Colo., and Boston, including a retired Harvard quantum physicist and his wife. “These out-of-town buyers are blown away at the quality of the finishes, size of the residences and the prices that we are offering,” Hagstette said.

Living and retail spaces

Each of the three living floors at The Clinton will feature nine units—three 880-square-foot, one-bedroom units, and six other condos featuring either one bedroom, a bonus room and a den, or two bedrooms and two baths.

The one-bedroom units feature a slider system that can open up the entire unit in the style of a studio. The solid-core panels operate on a track system that can make the sleeping area “semi or totally private,” Hagstette said. The two-bedroom units feature suites at opposite ends of the floor plan, allowing for greater privacy.

The building is anchored by ground-level retailers, including Little T American Baker, a bakery and cafe. Owner Tim Healea, onetime lead baker at Pearl Bakery, installed a $70,000 computerized German oven that’s “perfect for artisan bread,” he said. On the west side of the building, yoga studio The Bhaktishop fronts Southeast 26th Avenue along with

Mari Design, whose owner, Don Arancibia, will live in an upper-floor condo and supply the window coverings for all the condos.

Rapaport makes no secret of his interest in design. “I consider this an art building,” he said, “but I still have to do everything right.”

A fan of the Flaming Lips alternative rock band and a self-taught student of architecture, Rapaport refers to the Clinton project as his “second-record indie hit. But it’s more produced than the Belmont Street Lofts. It’s a step up. The world might be more critical of this building than the previous one, but let them be.”

Contact Portland writer Angela Allen at angela.allen@comcast.net.

The Clinton Condominiums, Southeast Division Street and 26th Avenue; www.clintoncondominiums.com

Eric Hagstette, Meadows Group Realtors, 1902 S.E. Morrison St.; 503-313-6476; erich@meadowsgroup.com

Holst Architecture, 110 S.E. Eighth Ave.; 503-233-9856; www.holstarc.com

Little T American Baker, 2600 S.E. Division St.; 503-238-3458; info@littletbaker.com; www.littletbaker.com

The Bhaktishop, 2500 S.E. 26th Ave.; 503-244-0108; weloveyou@thebhaktishop.com; http://thebhaktishop.com

Mari Design, 2520 S.E. 26th Ave.; 503-292-8585; www.maridesign.com