Four-story building will include retail, office

A local developer wants to turn an unused corner of downtown Gresham into an urban, four-story mix of retail, housing and office space.

The property, which sits on the southwest corner of Northwest Third Street and Miller Avenue, across from the Gresham Library, is just a big blackberry bramble right now, but Dwight Unti, president of Tokola Properties, is looking beyond the invasive weeds.

'We see that downtown Gresham is a very vibrant, very dynamic place,' Unti said. 'We like what's in place with the farmers' market and the activity on Main Avenue, and we like what we see on the horizon. The Center for the Performing Arts is an excellent opportunity for Gresham.'

Unti hopes to build a 28,350-square-foot retail/housing/office building that will add to Gresham's downtown core.

'There are wonderful opportunities near and within proximity to Main Avenue without having to be on Main Avenue,' Unti said. 'I think that we're going to see that downtown will grow and spread (away from Main Avenue) and this will create more interest and opportunity.'

The development would also help downtown Gresham's commitment to being pedestrian-friendly, said Janet Young, economic development manager for the city of Gresham.

'The codes require strong pedestrian-orientation at ground level and filling in the blocks like this really works well for pedestrians,' Young said. 'We see this as a real positive for the city.'

The land has been vacant for many years and disrupts the flow of downtown Gresham. Unti's proposal for a mixed-use building would create 1,980-square-feet of ground-level retail space, 3,500-square-feet of second-story office space and 35 living spaces.

Paul Franks Architecture, out of Bellevue, Wash., is working with Unti to design the building, but Unti said the plan is too new to have a clear vision of what the building might look like.

'We do want to fit the atmosphere and the scale of the community,' he said.

The building would include underground parking for 38 cars, street-level parking for 11 vehicles; 24 town homes; and 11 apartments. The housing units would be high-end rentals, Unti said.

'We're really excited about this,' Unti said of the project. 'We look forward to being in downtown Gresham. We hope to be under construction by the early part of next year.'

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