restored Corvallis Train Baggage Station

meeting rooms galore

April 01, 2002 12:00 am  •  By Bennett HallAlbany Democrat-Herald

Firm commits to cleaning up community

A Corvallis architecture and design firm has won statewide recognition for its work in rehabilitating historic mid-valley buildings. The Oregon Downtown Development Association has selected Endex Engineering to receive the Special Recognition of a Private Partner award.
"It actually was a special award created for them," said Celia Mason, assistant director of the ODDA.
Endex had entered a pair of Corvallis projects -- the Pythias Lofts on Southwest Second Street and the Corvallis Depot on Southwest Washington Avenue -- in the organization's annual awards competition. But instead of honoring either project individually, the judges chose to recognize Endex for its body of downtown redevelopment work.
"What the jury really wanted to focus on was Endex's commitment over time and their corporate philosophy," Mason said. "They have a longtime commitment to small communities and those kinds of offbeat projects that nobody else will take on. They do, and they turn them into valuable community resources."
"We thought that was just a tremendously nice gesture on their part," said Gary Feuerstein, who founded Endex in 1980. The firm's main business is architectural engineering, but in the mid-'90s Feuerstein and Endex business manager David Livingston began buying and renovating some properties in downtown Corvallis.
The award citation specifically mentions several Corvallis projects.
Last year, Endex converted the former Knights of Pythias lodge into five loft apartments and finished restoring part of an old railroad depot as meeting space. The firm previously converted the upper floor of the depot into two furnished apartments.
The jury also had praise for Endex's work on the Independent Laundry, an old industrial building on the riverfront that now houses Iovino's restaurant, The Chippery, Great Harvest Bread Co. and office space for Lucidyne Technologies.
Endex has also done projects in Albany. The firm renovated the heating, cooling and ventilation system for the Albany Senior Center and installed the electrical service for the Willamette Queen, the sternwheeler that had docked at Bryant Park. It's also done work on City Hall and some county buildings.
In addition, Endex handled the construction management and design of the $1.2 million renovation of the Venetian Theater, a job Feuerstein is especially proud of. The old vaudeville and movie house at 241 First Ave. N.W. was badly dilapidated before developer Sam Lanahan stepped in and remodeled it.
"Sam did a great favor for Albany by going in there and classing it up," Feuerstein said.
Next up for Endex Engineering are a pair of Corvallis developments. Both are ground-up projects rather than renovations, but both advance Feuerstein and Livingston's vision of expanding the limited stock of housing downtown.
One is the Second Street Lofts, which would consist of up to 25 apartments on the northeast corner of Northwest Second Street and Monroe Avenue, where a parking lot is now.
The development has been through several design changes, and it's still not clear what it will ultimately look like if all the financial and construction issues can be solved.
"The ultimate version was a five-story, 25-unit apartment building. We've looked at three, four and five stories on that site," Feuerstein said. "Like all things, the market's going to tell us what's the best thing to build."
The market has also had something to say about the other project, a planned 60-unit apartment complex just west of Seventh Street on Southwest Washington Avenue.
It was once envisioned as an upscale condo development, but efforts to pre-sell the units met with a tepid response. Now, Feuerstein said, the plan calls for a more "mainstream" project.
The apartments will be part of the Washington Yard development, which also includes the Corvallis Depot and the old Oregon State University poultry building, a large wood-frame structure that's been up on blocks since Endex bought it from OSU and moved it to the site several years
Renovation of the poultry building could begin within a few months, Feuerstein said. Endex is talking to the city about possible uses, which could include meeting space on the ground floor and two to four apartments upstairs.

And eventually, Feuerstein and Livingston will get around to the final part of the Washington Yard project: refurbishing a pair of vintage Portland & Spokane Railroad cars that occupy a short section of track behind the depot.
"We talk about that pretty regularly," Feuerstein said with a chuckle. "We do look forward to doing something with those over the next few years."

Feuerstein said work on the Second Street Lofts could begin by this fall, with the Washington Yard apartments coming sometime later.