Linda and Shaheen Sadeghi of Laguna Niguel own Lab Holdings, and I've been running into Shaheen a lot lately. He told me a little about the Portland project, and I followed up with Chris Bennett, director of development for the Sadeghis' company.
The city of Portland owns a five-acre piece of land that was a grain mill in the 1800s. It's on the edge of the Pearl District, right at the water. It has an old wharf attached where ships pulled up to unload cargo.
The city held a competition to see who could come up with an interesting idea for the property. Lab Holdings proposed a development centered around food. It would house a farmers' market and a combination of retail and restaurants with an artisan, locally-grown culinary theme, similar to the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
"Portland has a very interesting, independent culinary scene there," Bennett said. "This land is really considered the capstone of the Pearl District. A lot of the surrounding properties are high-rise condos. I think the city wanted something that was more of a community asset for this project."
If you've never been to the Pearl District, I highly recommend it. It's this great area of Portland filled with interesting mixed-use projects in restored warehouses, great restaurants and interesting parks.
Bennett and the team at Lab Holdings are now finalizing and refining their design, which would save many of the old buildings. They will submit their final draft in January, and a winner will be picked in February. The two other firms in the running are much larger, national companies.
"They are huge companies and we're pretty excited to be in the mix," Bennett said.
If Lab Holdings wins, they will buy and manage the property long term.
Lab Holdings is also working on a development for North Beach in San Clemente. Bennett updated me on that project, too.
Plans have been submitted to the city for design review. The Coastal Commission must also approve the project, which is a mix of retail and restaurants around a large plaza. The shops and boutiques will have a beach focus. An earlier proposal for a small hotel was dropped because of density concerns. Lab Holdings will also own this property as well when everything is said and done.
"Both the Portland and San Clemente projects are once in a lifetime opportunities," Bennett said. "They are amazing pieces of land and deserve something good. Hopefully, we can give it to them."
On another note, I wrote a story about Linda and Shaheen's house for Orange County Home Magazine. The story is in the current edition. I would link to it, but it's really hard to read the magazine online so I won't put you through that.