Robert Ball purchased the Sara Ann Apartments in NW Portland. After learning his craft purchasing and rehabilitating small projects as a student at the University of Oregon, he sold his Eugene, Oregon properties in order to purchase this 16 Unit apartment building in Portland’s premiere bustling urban neighborhood – the Nob Hill NW historic Alphabet District. Built in the 1920’s, the Sara Ann is two stories of wood construction over one floor of concrete with a brick veneer. Doing most of the work himself (with a lot of help from friends and family) he renovated and rehabilitated the Sara Ann Apartments to a Class A level apartment community. Every lighting, electrical, and plumbing fixture was removed. So were entry and cabinet doors and windows. Custom paint and solid brass fixtures were used to reach new levels of quality as the residences were put back together. Graceful hardwood floors were re-sanded and finished and new appliances installed.
Upon completion, Ball realized rents never before seen for similar sized units of the same era. He eventually sold the property for over three times his original purchase price. This project was the beginning of the Robert Ball Companies commitment to quality and providing comfortable residences in properties of unique character. Ball began a tradition of moving into his properties and a companywide commitment to make each property something he felt comfortable living in himself. The Sara Ann Apartments is a Contributing Building within the National Register of Historic Places NW Alphabet District.
Ball took his model of high quality apartment rehabilitations learned at the Sara Ann Apartments and duplicated it close by with the purchase of the neighboring Robert Daniel Apartments. This 16-unit building was also constructed in the 1920’s and is a three story poured in place concrete structure. It has a mix of one bedroom and studio apartments.
For the first time, Ball hired a team of craftsmen that enabled him to renovate the building at a faster pace and began to build a system that focused on both quality and productivity. He also developed a supply network to enable cost controls and stronger budgeting. Ball self-managed his own buildings and his property management company was born. The management company used early property management software and Ball developed standards and systems for management that the company still uses over 20 years later. The Robert Daniel apartments is a Contributing Building within the National Register of Historic Places NW Alphabet District.
Ball continued to build on his burgeoning experience and growth and at the age of 29, purchased the American Apartments at NW 21st and Johnson Street. Located in the same historic Nob Hill neighborhood as the Sara Ann and Robert Daniel Apartments, The American is listed on the National Register of Historic places. It is a 39 unit, 6 story, building with brick veneer.
Ball created a preservation plan as required by Federal and State regulations in order to rehabilitate this historic treasure. This entailed learning the rules and guidelines required to successfully navigate the historic renovation process. Rather than hire a professional consultant, Ball worked with the State of Oregon Preservation Office and learned the ins and outs of the program so he could build the necessary skill-set to become a leading historic property developer. Ball used his crew of craftsman and methods from his previous buildings to successfully renovate the property while carefully managing extensive building, historic, and zoning requirements. He then took a step into an entirely new area of his career and completed his conversion of an existing property into condominiums. This required him to learn the complicated area of creating CC&Rs; including Disclosures, Declarations and Bylaws. Ball learned how homeowner associations are formed, managed, and ultimately turned over to new homeowners. He also began to build successful liability management systems that would be carefully expanded over the next decade of the Robert Ball Companies team growth. The condominium was successfully sold out in a 5-week period and Ball renovated his own unit that he would live in for 7 years and own for another 8 years (with another brief time to live in before finally selling his “NW Jewel.”)
After completing the American Condominiums, Ball had poised himself for his most challenging and high profile projects to date. Years of experience had given him the understanding and skills necessary to take on major projects that would ultimately help transform a former industrial area and rail yards into arguably the most successful neighborhood development in the United States – The Pearl District.
Ball envisioned two distinct opportunities in the burgeoning area. He saw the old warehouses in the area as a lifetime opportunity to marry the industrial architecture of the past with modern living – giving one of the most unique living experiences residents could ever experience. He relished the moment and possibilities of preserving historic treasures for future generations. His second goal was one he had since childhood inspired by pictures of New York City. He quietly had always dreamed of building an original high-rise building that was his own creation – something that would leave a lasting legacy for decades to come.
With a focused and strict adherence to strong business principles and creative design, Ball achieved his goals and gained the attention of a city (and beyond.) Not only did he preserve historic treasures but he successfully built new and exciting buildings. All were a financial success as he carefully navigated market cycles and delivered living spaces that met the needs of the markets. His “Major Projects” raised his career to new heights.