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TriMet plans office moves

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Construction on a new Willamette River bridge continued this month as part of the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail line. The work requires TriMet to shuffle some office space.TriMet is preparing to move dozens of employees among buildings, relocate and expand its operations command center, and lease a new office for administrative and capital project staff in downtown Portland.

The moves are prompted by the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project, which will pay almost all of the relocation costs and a portion of the new lease. The TriMet Board of Directors is scheduled to consider a resolution authorizing them on Wednesday.

The work is collectively called TriMet’s “Moving Together” program, a component of the Portland-to-Milwaukie project.

The single largest cost is the renovation of TriMet’s existing administrative building at Southeast 17th Avenue and Center Street. The work is budgeted at $9.5 million and will be paid by the Portland-to-Milwaukie project. The federal government is contributing 50 percent of the $1.49 billion project. State, regional and local governments are paying the rest.

The next largest cost is $735,345 to buy new workstations for the space that will be leased in the Harrison Square building at Southwest First and Harrison. The money will come out of TriMet’s general fund.

TriMet will lease one and one-half floors in the Harrison Square. It will be occupied by administrative staff currently working at the Center Street building and capital project staff currently working in leased offices in the Lloyd District. The new workstations are smaller than those currently used at the Center Street offices, allowing more employees to share the space.

TriMet says using the new workstations will help save $582,000 from existing lease costs during the 10-year life of the lease. Using the existing workstations would require additional 14,760 square feet of space, increasing the 10-year lease costs approximately $2 million, according to TriMet.

Two changes in building requirements related to the PMLR project are prompting the moves. First, the MAX extension from Portland to Milwaukie requires more equipment at the Gresham operations center to manage. TriMet says the existing building cannot accommodate the additional equipment, however, meaning a new one must be acquired. Building a new one was estimated at $11.5 million.

Second, work at Southeast 17th and Holgate will require the demolition of Holgate Plaza, an office building that currently houses 45 TriMet employees. TriMet figures the existing administrative building can be remodeled for $9.5 million to accommodate both them and the expanded operations center.

Moving the operations center from Gresham to Southeast Portland is also expected to improve access during severe winter storms that hinder TriMet service, especially along the eastern lines and routes. The new operation center will be along the Portland to Milwaukie line and also accessible by bus and car.

TriMet would contract with Hoffman Construction to do the work on the Center Street building.

The relocation and renovation schedule is as follows:

• November 2012: Holgate Plaza demolished, staff temporarily move to other TriMet facilities.

• February 2013: TriMet administrative staff and capital projects staff move to new leased facility at Harrison Square, Portland-to-Milwaukie project budget pays portion of lease.

• March 2013: Center Street building construction begins, total $9.7 million cost is covered by the project budget.

• Spring/summer 2014: Operations Command Center becomes operational and Center Street building becomes Operations Headquarters.

• September 2015: Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail line opens.