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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.


Housing and transportation advocates plan to pack hearing for affordability bill

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
SE Division street scene - photo by Michael Andersen
SE Division Street has a frequent bus, two parallel neighborhood greenways and many shops within walking distance — but prices in the area are so high that many residents own cars anyway.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Oregon’s 20-year ban on a common affordable-housing policy could be headed for the dustbin, based on what happens after a hearing in Salem next Monday.

The policy, known as inclusionary zoning, would allow city governments to require that new buildings within certain areas include certain ratios of lower-rent housing units. Backers call it a useful tool for preventing desirable parts of town from becoming homogeneously wealthy.

Inclusionary zoning is entirely banned in two U.S. states: Oregon and Texas. House Bill 2564 would remove Oregon’s ban.

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Define ‘compatibility’: Ben Ross on the evasive language of zoning

Friday, February 6th, 2015
N-NE-SE Portland Good-Bad-Ugly Houses 84
Which is incompatible with which, and why?
(Photo: Mark McClure)

Why does Portland require every new house to have a driveway big enough to fit two cars?

Why do we forbid most lots from having two separate dwelling structures unless one is 25 percent smaller than the other and has a roof with an identical slope?

Why do we ban second kitchens within a single home unless the owner essentially pinky-swears that only one household will be living in the building?

In a city where a chronic shortage of housing in walkable and bikeable areas has driven prices up and up, driving major changes in the culture, these aren’t trivial questions.

The most familiar answer to all of them is one of the most-used words in urban zoning: “compatibility.” But what exactly does that mean?

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As Portland’s job growth continues, business leaders tout bikes and transit

Friday, January 30th, 2015
Leonard Barrett of Beam Development atop an eastside office building remodeled in 2013 that now houses 350 workers. In 2005, Beam had planned to demolish it for a parking lot, but high biking and transit use changed the owner’s mind.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

While the organization that says it speaks for local business interests continues to oppose major investments in biking, walking and mass transit, actual local businesses are continuing their embrace of the amenities we’ve built so far.

Hillsboro-based Lattice Semiconductor said this week that it’s sold its Hillsboro headquarters and is moving 100 executive and administrative workers to U.S. Bancorp Tower in downtown Portland. The Oregonian described it as part of a “tectonic shift in Oregon technology” that is channeling tech jobs to the central city rather than Washington County.

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Parking and planning: Lessons from a map of Portland land value

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
land-value-540
Land in dark red is worth $100 or more per square foot. Land in pale green is worth $5 or less.
(All images except the last are © Fat Pencil Studio – click through to reach a larger version)

Money isn’t everything, and neither is land value.

But if you want to know how the world works, they’re both worth understanding. That’s why the above map, created as a policy exercise by our friend Joshua Cohen of the civic graphics firm Fat Pencil Studio, is so much fun.

It’s a color-coded map of the market value per acre of the land — not the buildings, just the land — beneath every tax lot in the City of Portland.

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Two miles south of Portland, residents see a fresh canvas for car-lite development

Thursday, January 8th, 2015
trio bike
Oak Grove residents Chips Janger, Joseph Edge and Eleanore Hunter say TriMet’s new MAX line has made their inner-ring suburb ripe for dense bike- and transit-oriented development, and that neighbors are eager to help it happen.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

While Portland prepares to block increased development along parts of TriMet’s newest MAX line, a group of residents further down the Orange Line say they’re welcoming more density with open arms.

Their dream, they say, would be to use three-to-five-story apartment buildings and clusters of new small houses to turn their corner of unincorporated Clackamas County — the last stop on the new MAX line — into a bustling but more nature-rich alternative to Southeast Division Street.

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Home demolition critics back resolution that would block central-city density

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
(Photo: City of Portland)

In the last five weeks, nearly a third of Portland’s neighborhood associations have approved a resolution that calls for Portland to virtually freeze residential development in the central city at its current average density.

The resolution’s supporters, who call themselves United Neighborhoods for Reform, say it’s not actually an anti-density measure but rather a movement to protect historical character and housing affordability by reducing needless demolitions of old houses.

Margaret Davis, a UNR spokeswoman who also serves as a board member for the Beaumont Wilshire Neighborhood Association, said she wants to prevent home demolitions like one she saw recently.

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Bike riders and bikeways loom large in Burnside Bridgehead development boom

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
419 e bunside approach from couch
A 158-unit building proposed at 419 E. Burnside would feature a “bicycle lounge,” possibly with free coffee and video games.
(Images: Myhre Group Architects)

After two decades of waiting for Portland’s bike network to arrive downtown, it looks like downtown is headed for Portland’s bike network.

Now that life on the city’s eastside grid has exploded in popularity (and therefore in expense), major developers are making a lunge across the Burnside Bridge in an effort to bring 9-story living to the east side of the Willamette.

And as construction start dates approach for the first projects of the so-called “Burnside Bridgehead,” the excellent bike access is turning out to be central to their plans.

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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.

(more…)

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