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Friday, March 12, 2010

Auction for John Ross

Unsold condos in South Waterfront tower set for auction next month

Portland Business Journal

by Wendy Culverwell Business Journal staff writer

Most unsold condominiums at the South Waterfront’s John Ross tower will go on the auction block April 11.

The auction echoes a similar event held to dispose of unsold units at Atwater Place, a sister to John Ross, in 2009. That auction was considered a success after the released units all sold.

Like Atwater Place, the John Ross is a critical component of Portland’s South Waterfront neighborhood. At one point, the city projected the new district would contribute 10,000 jobs to the economy. No new building projects have been initiated in more than a year.

The John Ross auction is jointly sponsored by Portland real estate brokerage Realty Trust Group, and a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based auctioneer, Kennedy Wilson Auction Group.

Neither Realty Trust nor Kennedy Wilson could be reached to comment Wednesday afternoon.

The auction will feature 50 of the 303-unit tower’s approximately 84 unsold units. The minimum selling price will start at $110,000. The auction will include studio, one, two and three bedroom units and a 3,456-square-foot penthouse.

Details will be posted at, but the site was not live as of Wednesday afternoon.

The previous low price at the John Ross was $156,800 for one of the smallest units, a 631-square foot studio, according to a listing in the Regional Multiple Listing Service.

John Ross enjoyed strong sales when it debuted in 2007 but the recession chilled demand for condominiums and the pace eased. That led lender Prudential Real Estate, based in Parsippany, N.J., to take control of the project more than a year ago.

Prudential holds a $32 million note on the building.

A series of price cuts totaling more than 30 percent led to an increase in sales starting in late 2009. It continued with seven sales each in December and January, typically slow times in any market.

As of February, the project was about 74 percent sold out.

In late February, there were 84 unsold units, with the highest concentration of vacant units in the upper floors, where prices are higher. Realty Trust, which has been responsible for sales since the start, said the actual number of unsold units is closer to 74 because of pending sales that have closed.

It is not clear how the units not included in the auction will be treated. With Atwater Place, units withheld from the initial auction were later released for sale in small batches, with mixed results.

The $130 million John Ross was developed by Gerding Edlen Development and Williams and Dame Development. The 31-story building has received the U.S. Green Building Council’s “gold” rating for environmental sustainability. The elliptical design by Robert Thompson and GBD Architects was widely praised.

The John Ross has 21,400 square feet of street-level retail space, partly leased to a bank and a restaurant. The rest is empty.

The auction information office will be open daily at John Ross, 3601 S.W. River Parkway.