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The Real Estate Beat

Welcome to our special coverage of how real estate and housing are closely intertwined with bicycling in Portland. We’ll track the latest bike-friendly developments (both commercial and residential) and share our analysis of how low-car trends are impacting the places we live and work. The Real Estate Beat is edited and produced by our News Editor Michael Andersen.


Lloyd developer proposes 1,000 more low-car apartments including 32-story tower

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
hassalo sequel
The tallest of the proposed new towers would be 32 stories tall, by far Portland’s tallest east of the Willamette River.
(Image: BikePortland from PortlandMaps.com)

It looks as if the mother of all Portland’s low-car apartment projects is likely to get a sibling — maybe an even bigger one.

Across the MAX line from the 657-apartment, 44,000-square-foot-retail Hassalo on Eighth complex opening next year that also happens to be the biggest bike parking project in North America, the same company is proposing a separate block of towers with 1,030 apartments and another 36,000 square feet of retail.

If approved and completed, it’d bring another huge burst of pressure — and, potentially, of development fees — to improve north-south biking connections through the Lloyd, including a much-discussed biking-walking bridge over Interstate 84 to create a 7th/9th Avenue neighborhood greenway linking inner Northeast and Southeast.

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Two years after Portland’s auto parking wars, apartment garages aren’t filling up

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
empty lower garage
The Linden apartments at SE 12th and Burnside are 98 percent leased, but 39 of their 110 on-site parking spaces, including the entire lower-level garage, have never been rented. These spaces rent for $110 a month, but street parking is free. (Note the occupied bike rack at the back of the garage.)
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When Steven Van Zile moved from Los Angeles to the Pearl District last year for a job managing Guardian Management’s portfolio of Portland-area apartment buildings, the low number of parking spaces at some of the newer properties made him nervous.

Linden, the company’s new building on Burnside and 12th, had only 110 parking spaces for 132 units. In an interview at the time, Van Zile expressed gratitude to the building’s developer that the on-site parting lot was larger than at some other buildings. But what would happen if garage space ran short?

It turns out that Van Zile needn’t have worried.

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LEED apartment building lacks cargo bike parking, so family rents an auto space

Friday, October 17th, 2014
cargo bike wide angle
The apartment building where the DeLaneys live was designed with lots of parking for small bikes but none for the sort that lets families with children live car-free.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When their name came up this year on the waiting list for a rare below-market two-bedroom apartment in one of Williams Avenue’s new apartment buildings, the DeLaney family was thrilled.

It had enough room for their growing family — Bijou, their second daughter, is four months old — and was a short walk to the 35 bus that carries Chris DeLaney to his job at the Bike Gallery in Lake Oswego.

But it lacked something else: a place to park the cargo bike that lets them avoid car ownership and thus afford to live where they do. So, after some negotiation, the DeLaneys are paying $40 a month to park their cargo bike in one of the building’s auto parking spaces.

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State report shows Portland’s economic surge outpacing Washington County

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Sunset riders-2
Sunset behind the hills and Portland’s Broadway Bridge.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Residential and office space is running short in Portland for a reason: the central city, not its more auto-oriented suburbs, has been leading the region’s charge out of the recession.

On one measure after another — job growth, median incomes for full-time workers, housing starts, working-age population growth — the City of Portland and Multnomah County have roared past Washington County over the last year as the site of most new economic activity in the metro area.

That’s the overarching finding of a statistical digest prepared by state workforce analyst Christian Kaylor and distributed Tuesday night.

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2,000 missing homes: Prices soar in bikeable areas as Portland’s rental shortage deepens

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
vacancy rate chart
Source: Census. Chart by BikePortland.

As Portlanders puzzle over why local bike, bus and rail transportation has stopped rising, last week’s Census figures show another trend continuing to reshape the city’s population.

New construction in the central city hasn’t come close to relieving one of the country’s harshest rental housing shortages.

For structures built before 1940 — the bungalows and walk-ups built before the age of automotive planning that cover most of the land between the Willamette River, 82nd Avenue, Powell and Lombard, including many of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in North America — median rents rose 19 percent in the two years from 2011 to 2013, Census estimates show.

Since 2005, when the City of Portland’s population growth began to dramatically outpace its supply of new units, rent in these central-city buildings has risen 47 percent.

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Pittsburgh is (in many ways) the city that Portland wants to become

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
market square lead
Pittsburgh’s Market Square.
(Photos: M.Andersen)

When I headed to Pittsburgh last week to join the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference for my other gig, I was telling people that “the Paris of Appalachia” (as its mayor likes to call it) is the city that my hometown, Toledo, Ohio, wishes it could be.

Three days later, I started telling people it was the city that Portland wishes it could be, too.

Pittsburgh obviously isn’t as bikeable as Portland, though it’s coming along. But almost everything else about the city measures up.

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Tech will make central-city parking spaces pointless, Gabe Klein tells Portland crowd

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
klein at table
Gabe Klein, right, speaks to a panel of local transportation experts at the Multnomah Athletic Club Thursday.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The author of the transportation reinventions in Washington DC and Chicago offered some advice to Portland-area developers Thursday: start building for parking-free cities.

Self-driving cars will be available in a few years, predicted Gabe Klein, the former transportation director of both those cities, and they’ll mean “the end of parking as we know it.”

Klein, now a fellow at the Urban Land Institute, an organization for real-estate and land-use professionals, spoke to a room of local ULI members and other guests Thursday morning at the Multnomah Athletic Club in southwest Portland.

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The case for streetcar as pro-bike infrastructure

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
hassalo
The Lloyd District’s new “bikescraper”: also a streetcarscraper.
(Rendering: GBD Architects)

Though the experience of China, Japan and Northern Europe makes it pretty clear that you can’t have a great bike city without also having a great mass transit city, streetcars are the one transit type that seems to rankle bike-lovers.

Maybe it’s the rails that turn traffic lanes dangerous for biking. Maybe it’s that streetcar projects often underinvest in adjacent bike improvements. Maybe it’s that streetcars are deeply controversial in the public transit world, too.

But there’s also an argument that streetcars are actually the very best sort of public transit at improving biking. On Portland Transport Monday, local streetcar and biking fan Chris Smith laid it out.

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Should central-city apartment buildings charge extra for bike parking?

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Paramount Apts at Flint and Broadway
The new owner of the Paramount Apartments on N Flint and Broadway built a new indoor bike parking area and charges tenants $6 a month to use it.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s a question for those who say it’s only fair for car parking to cover its own costs: Should bike parking ever do the same?

Whichever way you come down on the question, the new landlord of an inner North Portland apartment building is putting it to the test. He spent $2,000 to add 40 indoor bike parking spaces, a bench and a repair clamp to an unused shop room and is now charging tenants $6 a month per bike to use it.

“Just trying to recoup some of my labor and expense,” the landlord, Roy Eberle of Eugene, explained in a phone interview Thursday.

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Backyard homes are almost as car-lite as apartments on transit lines, study finds

Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Sally Spear, 63, moved into a 200-square-foot backyard cottage designed by her son-in-law Schuyler Smith, 33, in 2010. Smith now designs ADUs for a living.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When it comes to cars, accessory units in backyards and basements are nearly as low-impact as big apartment buildings next to bus lines.

That’s the conclusion of a new state-funded analysis (PDF) that combines the results of a survey of Portland accessory dwelling owners with other recent studies to start examining one of Portland’s newest real estate trends.

The average rental unit in Portland brings 1.31 cars on site, according to the U.S. Census. For transit-oriented apartment buildings, that falls to 0.83 cars — and for accessory dwelling units, it’s 0.93 cars.

(more…)

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