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Towering Ambition

Scappoose native Pat Kessi is throwing his hat in the ring with his business partner Geoff Wenker, and developing 'green' buildings in PDX with pizzazz

A condominium project in the Pearl District in Portland is getting lots of attention. It's a 16-story narrow tower occupying a half-block site on Glisan Street between N.W. 9th and 10th avenues.

The big deal is twofold: First, the developer is Scappoose-raised Pat Kessi, 29, who was also the developer, along with business partner Geoff Wenker, for the Thurman Street Lofts. The project focused on green development on a modest budget.

The second and more important aspect of the gleaming tower, dubbed the 937, is that Kessi and Wenker, a former Scappoose contractor, wanted to break from the ho-hum static look of the older condominiums in the Pearl District and create a modern thing of beauty. With the help of architect John Holmes, the break from tradition is creating quite a stir.

Another unique feature of the building is its various 'green' features. The builders are striving for a silver certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the nationally accepted benchmark for the design and construction of high-performance green buildings. Right now, only a few condos in Portland are LEED certified.

One of the most obvious green features is the 4,000 square-foot vegetated roof and planters that filter and detain storm water. The building is also oriented to maximize daylight thus minimizing electrical needs. In addition, 75 percent of demolition materials and construction debris is recycled.

The duo is taking a $50 million bet that buyers will flock to the slender wheat-colored brick building with irregularly spaced and framed windows. On the inside, condo units feature high-end finishes with a modern twist. 'Our desire was to innovate the current Pearl condominium inventory by introducing a handsome exterior, innovative floor plans and modern interiors,' said Kessi.

As a teen, Kessi worked for his father's heavy construction company in Scappoose, giving him a foundation. As a finance major in college, he began buying and renovating rental properties. After he turned over multiple homes and a low-rise apartment building, Kessi partnered with Wenker and took on his first major high-rise development with the Thurman lofts at the young age of 26.

The 937 is expected to open in the fall. For more information, visit www.937condominiums.com.