Built in 1924, the Occident is a one-story commercial building with 9,800 sq. ft. of space and full basement. The building, which consists of six separate units, is bounded by Marine Drive and 10th Street.
The Occident Building is an example of early 1920s architectural design in Astoria. The building was named for the Occident Hotel, which was built in 1869 by Captain George Flavel and stood on the southeast corner of what today is 10th and Bond. It once housed the Longshoreman's Hall, a tavern and a janitorial service. The building was purchased in 2004 by Jeffrey Canessa and Jason Palmberg.
|The sign at the top of the Occident Building denotes when the structure was constructed. Photo: Greg Cohen|
Canessa and Palmberg said they saw the potential value in the Occident as a commercial building but understood that the structure needed improvements.
"It seemed like it was being underutilized and that it could be turned into something of value," Canessa said.
Since purchasing the Occident, the partners estimate they have spent over $500,000 in building improvements, including new electrical, plumbing and heat/air condition systems.
About one-half of the building's original transom windows were replaced, as were the entry doors. A garage door entry on Marine Drive was replaced with an overhead aluminum door with glass windows that fits naturally with the interior use of the space.
The outside of the building, interior walls and ceilings all were refurbished, as were the original fir floors.
"We tried to blend new and old in our improvements," Palmberg said.
|Owners Jeffrey Canessa and Jason Palmberg spent more than a year renovating the Occident Building after purchasing it in 2004. Photo: Greg Cohen|
The renovations took more than a year to complete.
While Palmberg performed much of the restoration work, local contractors used on the project included: Pitts Hardwood Co. (flooring), Jake McClure Co. (drywalls), M&M Electric, Inc., P&L Johnson Mechanical, Inc., (HVAC), Morris Glass & Construction, J P Plumbing Co., and Astoria Builders Supply.
Palmberg said the biggest challenge was trying to maintain as much of the flavor of the original structure, while creating office spaces that provided the modern amenities conducive to a pleasant work environment.
The owners agreed that they were pleased with the outcome of the restoration project.
|The former Occident Hotel for which the Occident Building is named stood on the corner of what is now 10th and Bond in Astoria. Photo courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.|
"I think we surprised ourselves with how well it turned out," Canessa said. "It was beyond our expectations."
Importance of restoration:
"We got into this project as a way to contribute to the community and make the downtown area better," Palmberg said.
Both he and Canessa agreed they believe the refurbished Occident Building has become an asset to Astoria's downtown corridor.
Apparently, so did the City of Astoria.
In 2009, the owners received the Harvey Award, awarded by the city to recognize outstanding historic preservation projects.
For more information about renovating an old home or commercial building, contact the Lower Columbia Preservation Society. The LCPS is located in downtown Astoria in the historic Hobsen Building at 1170 Commercial St, No. 210. Call (503) 791-1236 or visit www.lcpsweb.org.