But things might be changing. Portland has been discovered by transplants from across the country, especially twenty-somethings, who expect Portland to deliver a certain hip quirkiness (think Portlandia) and a certain slacker affordability.
They'll need somewhere to live ... like N. Williams Avenue. One building crane after another. Typically, five stories of what I'll call "rabbit hutches" spread on a city block. Some ground-floor retail space. About 75 or so apartment homes in a certified green building. Minimal car parking, natch. Bike parking spaces by the hundreds, natch. You want brew pub, coffee shop, upscale grocer, laundromat with food, bicycling gym with suds? All an easy walk away.
These apartment complexes have names to bolster their indifferent architecture: as The Martin on MLK, The Linden (one arboreal example left standing after construction), but for egregious, try The Mason Williams. May the composer of "Classical Gas" never see his name flaunted like this.
By the way, the monthly sum of $1,000 leases you 500 square feet at The Mason Williams.
This apparently is what pencils out for real estate syndicates across the country who now know Portland. (I talked with a fellow in construction: Portland is awash in outside money from those wanting a piece of the action in Portland, knowing price appreciation in more spendy places like the Bay Area lacks headroom.)
So much of the housing stock taking shape in Portland will be increasingly shaped by outside dollars, in effect, colonizing Portland with an abundance of IKEA-esque living spaces designed expressly for singletons, which given the wages in Portland, are no bargain.
But will the outside real estate syndicates putting up these rabbit hutches get what they want down the road?
There might be a day of reckoning. Portland does not embrace free market economics as, say, Houston.
The question I would pose is this: Is rent control waiting in the wings?
Image credit: Charlie Dickinson
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