The project that’s been a decade in the making took a giant step toward the finish last month when shovels finally turned the newly cleansed earth at the future home of the AVA Roasteria.
If all goes well, the scent of freshly roasting coffee should be wafting down Main Street around this time next year.
The Beaverton-based coffee house chain broke ground in early December on a three-story, mixed-use building overlooking Fanno Creek that will house its bakery, main roasting facility, a coffee house, cocktail bar and 22 one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. Plans include 14 off-street parking spaces.
“The project is the first large transformative project that’s actually on Main Street,” Mayor Jason Snider said. “It should really be a catalyst to further redevelopment downtown.”
He applauded AVA for taking on the complex challenges of developing the formerly contaminated site bordered by the creek on one side and the Highway 99 viaduct on the other.
Those known obstacles, which include raising the property about five feet to clear FEMA’s 100-year flood high watermark estimate for the creek, were well within owner Amy Saberiyan’s wheelhouse.
Developing brownfields – previously developed and possibly contaminated vacant plots – marries her coffee businesses with her deep background and education in environmental engineering, an area in which she holds a doctorate degree.
“Amy Saberiyan has the experience and expertise to manage the complexities of the site, that was very clear from the first times that we met with her,” Snider said at the ground-breaking.
From the outset she noted that giving new life to underutilized, formerly toxic land was part of her brand and mission.
“We started this project with a common goal,” she told guests at the ground-breaking celebration. “It was a vision to create a livable and vibrant downtown for the city of Tigard…A vision to transform this brownfield into a community gathering space and also to take our business to the next level.”
It’s the culmination of a decade of work that began with the city’s redevelopment agency acquiring the property in 2012 then securing a $400,000 brownfield clean-up grant from the EPA in 2016.
“The city of Tigard did a major part of it,” Saberiyan said of the joint effort. “The only way this type of site can be successful is a public-private partnership. That’s the only way these types of contaminated properties can have the opportunity to be developed.”
The nearly half-acre plot across the street from Cooper Mountain Ale Works is the second such site she’s redeveloped.
In previous lives, three structures demolished on the site in 2018 were the former home of Tigard Planing Mill, a tire shop, an auto repair shop, bakery, jewelry store, real estate office, and an insurance office, according to DEQ records.
AVA’s original location in Beaverton, which currently houses its roasting facility, sits on the site of a former gas station. She’s looking to continue expanding around the state on other brownfields.
While Saberiyan was prepared for the known perils, she didn’t anticipate the additional complications of a pandemic breaking just in time to nearly tank her funding and delay the start of construction by more than a year.
The project, which was originally rendered with a fourth floor and meant to additionally house the company’s administrative headquarters, was scaled back and the office space eliminated to secure financing.
Construction was pushed from summer 2021 to December 2022, just about the time she was initially hoping to open.
“We were just looking at the positive side of things,” she said. “We made it work. No matter what, we move on, and we adapt, and we made it work.”
At three stories, the building will still be the tallest in downtown, the first to blend residential with commercial space there, and the epicenter of AVA operations.
After launching in Beaverton in 2006, AVA opened three more coffee houses in the metro area. The new space makes five.
For now, headquarters will remain in Beaverton, but with the new operation finally lifting off, Saberiyan would like to find a nearby office space and move command central to Tigard, too.
“We would like to be closer to the new operation because it’s more of a center, it’s not just a coffee shop. We have the bakery, the roastery and the new idea of the coffee-cocktail bar, so we’re going to be more involved in that center” she said. “We need to have a centralized location.”
Running at full capacity, the new downtown operation could employ about 30 people.
“They stuck with us, we stuck with them, and we’re all ultimately better for it,” Snider said. “It’s really the people of Tigard who win.”