by: John Klicker, Colas Construction CEO Hermann Colas Jr. welcomes people to the grand opening of Ironcrest Estates.

The sun shone brightly on Skyland Development's grand opening party Thursday, Aug. 11, for its Ironcrest Estates townhome community.

A band played festive music, and waiters milled about delivering hors d'oeuvres and wine as visitors toured a finished three-story townhome, oohing and aahing over the porcelain tile, lighted built-ins and double-sided slate fireplace.

The development is downtown Gresham's first private, gated community, which, when complete, will include 62 units at Northeast Cleveland Street and Sixth Avenue.

The first phase - 16 units - are now for sale. The project is being built in a partnership between Colas Construction Inc. and Skyland Development. It is being listed by Skyland Realty. Prices range from $248,000 to $300,000.

Mayor Charles Becker spoke at the catered grand opening event, and former Indiana Pacers and current Toronto Raptors NBA player Fred Jones showed his support with an appearance.

Skyland Realty Broker Quyona Anderson said Jones, a Barlow High School graduate, paid a visit to the opening because 'he is putting his name behind it; he's from Gresham, and he is eager to see the city improve.'

Anderson said Jones is not an investor in the project, but is friends with the developers and is 'very supportive' of it.

Colas Construction CEO Hermann Colas Jr. said he discovered the charm and appeal of downtown Gresham in 2004 when he attended the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival.

'Everyone was telling me not to do anything in Gresham, but I came over for the jazz festival, and I was looking around the downtown and the restaurants we were eating at, and I thought, regardless of what people say, this is the place, this is the time.'

Colas' development is a high-end one, with interiors that resemble some Pearl District lofts.

Avoiding the monotone, cookie-cutter look, Ironcrest ultimately will feature three exteriors, called the Northern, Southern and Western Sky. Northern Sky features a traditional Portland craftsman look, Southern Sky resembles a beach cottage and Western Sky brings to mind a southern California feel.

The first phase features units in the Southern Sky and Western Sky styles.

Colas Jr. said he has been so impressed with Gresham, he looks forward to continuing projects in the area. He owns several parcels of land across Cleveland from Ironcrest, on Liberty Street.

A few of the houses have been demolished to make way for Ironcrest, and if the townhome development is successful, Colas said he may build condominiums on Liberty Street.

'Hermann really thinks outside of the box,' Anderson said. 'The land Ironcrest is on now, it was two separate parcels, and he bought them both, demolished a few homes and reconstructed the whole streetscape. The land had sat there empty for a really long time, about nine years.'

At Ironcrest, there are six floorplans, all featuring a minimum of three bedrooms and three baths.

All are tri-level homes and square footage ranges from 1,515 to 1,990. The interiors feature hardwood flooring, custom cabinetry, decks, gas fireplaces, energy efficient windows and premium appliances.

Upgrades are available on almost everything. For example, the townhomes come with either maple or oak hardwood floors, but you can upgrade to Brazilian cherry or walnut.

'I hope to continue our development here,' Colas said. 'I've met some of the nicest people here in Gresham. If you are betting on us, you're betting on a winning horse.'

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