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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Young people, come to Portland!

Only $800 a month, and your apartment will be 300 square feet!

Comments (25)

Hey, $800 a month and you get all the roomy comfort of a fast attack submarine.

Sad article. I suspect DJC reporters, like the rest of them, aren't given the time or resources to do actual research.

The obvious question is how the 300 sq ft apartments are designed. It's not hard to imagine a space that's so well designed that 300 sq ft seems spacious..but it's also not hard to imagine abysmal failures to reach that goal.

Too bad the article doesn't contain a little more detail about that.

OK, enough babble -- gotta finish packing for my $1200 shared housing space (!) in San Francisco.

It's not hard to imagine a space that's so well designed that 300 sq ft seems

Depends on what you're smoking.

BTW, that's the average square footage. Some units will apparently be even smaller.

Anybody who moves to Portland, Oregon to live like that needs a room at the state hospital.

Heck, no, you should go to the Sitka, that'll get you a large 2 bed and free high-speed Internet. As long as you make a low wage when you sign the lease, you never have to leave, even if you win the lottery.

This has to be about the umpteenth condo conversion to revet back to rentals by now. I kinda think we're running out of people who want to pay $1300/month for a one bed.

Or $400 a month per person, double occupancy.

I once lived in a vintage Avion trailer that was probably about 200 sq. ft., out at Reeder Beach. It definitely was a lot cooler than whatever they are building in the Pearl.

If you're trying to picture it, think 15 feet by 20 feet.

Your whole apartment.

Last place I lived in in Austin, about 10 years ago, was around 300 square feet. Paid, I think, $550 plus bills. Same place probably rents for $750 today. But that's can make a lot more money in that town, and the taxes are very low. Only drawback is the constant 100 degree heat, really...

Of course, if you are a pack rat like me, you learn to go vertical with your possessions in a space like that. Every inch of my walls was shelf space, and there were a couple of "trails," as it were, between the stacks of musical gear and such.

I have a lot more stuff now, too. No thanks to the 300 square feet, I have a rental near Alberta with over eight times that space for $1400 a month.

What, do these folks think that young people are going to suddenly abandon the tradition of getting some room-mates together and pooling their money for a nice big rental house ? Lots and lots and lots of houses have been sitting empty and for sale for a long time long before they become rentals ?

Screw density and it's hypocritical proponents. Seriously. And when I say hypocrites, I mean hypocrites of the highest order.

Give me a big, solid house with a detached garage, deck, back yard, garden, etc. This type of house allows a giant leap in quality of life over little shoebox apartments.

I'll continue to drive a big, redneck truck to work, too, thank you very much.

Jack, I gotta tip my hat to your tenacity and wit on this issue! I guess the market will decide, no? I don't really have odds one way or the other...personally, the Pearl is not a place I'd want to live, but I'm not the target market anyway.

Is there any public policy connection here? Does it tie in with any of the urban renewal stuff that got the Pearl established? Or are we just looking at a potentially poor decision by a private company/developer?

The DJC article says that there are 150 units with an average size of 300sqft. and the whole building cost $14.5 million. That is 45,000 sqft total living space for $14.5 million, or $322 per sqft. For wood frame construction.

Who was it that claimed that high density saved money?

At that rate an average sized 1500 sqft home would cost half a million! Compare that to under $200,000 in an area without draconian land use laws.

Is there any public policy connection here?

I can't believe anything gets built in Portland today without some sort of handout. Certainly anything big and ugly in the Pearl gets a "transit-oriented development" tax break of some kind, doesn't it?

And since this cramped human warehouse epitomizes the Portland planning fantasy of density infill, I'd be surprised if the city didn't just cut a seven-figure check to the developer weasels or tell them not to pay any property taxes at all. Go by streetcar, and all that.

Capsule condos are next. Who needs living space when you can hang at Starbucks and get your exercise by climbing on and off streetcars.

What's next? Let's do a Portland version of the Japanese Capsule Hotel. We could do it with shared bathrooms, shared cooking area and a shared (but privately locked) area for the 'stuff' that doesn't fit in your 'capsule'. And we could rent them for a mere ... $500 a month.

See it here

"If you're trying to picture it"

Go to IKEA, they have a 275 sqft (or so) model room.

Welcome to the future of Portland and make sure you go by streetcar to you 20 sqft cubicle.

Be nice if we had one truly creative architect/planner type in town who could do something else beside tall dorms in the Pearl district with a lot of glass.

I can't believe anything gets built in Portland today without some sort of handout.

Well that seems like a fair assessment. Still, it seems like we could have a more productive discussion if some of that was spelled out -- otherwise, I suspect we just look like sputtering conspiracy nuts to anybody who happens to wander by.

I don't know who you think "we" are. I think it's worthwhile pointing out the utter folly of Portland's reality-detached development community. The people for whom we're mortgaging the city's future aren't too bright.

Jack, my previous comments in this thread have been a little whimsical, but I'm going to indulge in a sentimental moment. I'm leaving Portland after 18 years, and I find that things start to come into perspective in compelling ways.

So, who do I think "we" are? I would say the convening theme of your blog is a concern about the rampant influence of narrow private interests in (primarily city) government. Through my involvement in politics and local issues, I consider that a tremendously important point of view to have expressed in a consistent and intelligent way.

I sometimes disagree with your emphasis or conclusions (or in a case like this, just think they're a little silly), but such issues are completely overshadowed by a deep respect for what you do every day. You challenge your readers to think critically, you often back up what you have to say with clear citations (often the kind that I don't stumble upon elsewhere).

Portland has some big problems, and I'm not sure how they're going to get solved. I suspect I'll find even bigger ones in California. I can only hope there's somebody playing a role like yours down there.

What is going on in Portland happened to varying degrees in many jurisdictions nationwide. It was enabled by living off the once-in-a-century real estate bubble.

To me, what is startling is the extent to which the ruling elite hasn't figured out that the party is over -- for good. The hyped up real estate markets created a Ponzi scheme of sorts where the rulers could extract value from continuously rising real estate valuations to finance the next pet project or popular scheme. Over. Done with.

Forgive me for commenting, but your mayor and commissions have no game without a real estate bubble.

If Portland is like where I live the politicians in the hinterlands understand while the enclavists are proceeding as if nothing has changed.

In the props to Jack department, it is the focus on a responsible, sustainable approach to local public finance that I love most here. If you managed the public dollars in even a vaguely responsible way, the planning mafia wouldn't have the cash to throw at every latest fashion they see at the latest conference. Then these deals would have to make sense in the real world.

I'm not saying guv-mint shouldn't subsidize development to some extent, only that it should stick to the knitting, as it were. Do good infrastructure, public safety and the things that make cities work rather than all this real estate fluff. Let the developers gamble with their own money. The choice of projects would become evidence-based in a heartbeat.

You think the housing market's deflated now, wait until the Fed starts raising interest rates next spring and the new- (and now also "old-") homebuyer tax incentive end. They're the only things keeping us from a complete collapse, and when they're taken away the nascent recovery underway now will be strangled in the crib.

Although the real estate bubble was a nationwide delirium and other governments were sweet-talked by developer interests to gamble public money on questionable projects, the emperor-has-no-clothes feeling from the housing crash feels particularly acute here. Besides the now-dead timber industry, land speculation and development have been the only big consistent moneymaker for the city since Portland lost out to Seattle and San Francisco in the race to become the key West Coast economic and cultural centers. There's no other big industry within city limits to tax to raise revenue; the large government, education, and healthcare employers are largely nonprofits and therefore largely nontaxable. So no wonder city leaders fell particularly easily here for the sweet nothings whispered in their ears by real estate interests about rising property values and property tax revenues flowing like water.

No, tell us what you really think, Eric.

More information, photos, blueprints here:

The "Freedom Center 1" complex (who named this thing?) consists of three buildings that back the planned and approved Overton office building (an earlier sign said condos??). The city block involved is between Overton and Pettygrove/14th and 15th NW. This is almost under the 405 freeway. Not a bad view to the east, but the exhaust and noise from the freeway won't be a hot selling point.

$800 for less than 300 square feet is not affordable. You can still find average-400-square foot apartments near Wallace Park in the NW for less. The area is nicer and the apartments larger.

And why does there always have to be "ground floor retail space?" How about putting in (gasp) parking for the tenants? Oops, forgot it's a couple of blocks from the streetcar line which means that all tenants will magically ride the rails and the builders aren't obliged to provide adequate parking.

Mapquest view of the area where the property is located:

I'm moving to Portland in a few weeks for employment… Certainly I'll find a better deal than this? Even for the Pearl, 800 for 300 sq. ft. seems a bit excessive… Heck, in Texas, you can get 1500 sq. ft. and a garage and a yard, and a nice long commute :) for that...

My apartment just on the other side of the river is 2.5 times that square footage for about the same price. And incidentally, the Pearl's not really a very "cool" neighborhood, so you're not even targeting the right market for this sort of thing, unless you think you can pull enough PSU students to matter.


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