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Low-car, upscale: New buildings dare to expand the Pearl

Posted by on October 29th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Steven Van Zile and Jennifer Porter of Guardian Real Estate Services show off the common room in the company’s new 132-unit Linden Apartments at Southeast 12th and Burnside.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Two big new apartment buildings that opened for rental this month are aiming to kill the notion that well-to-do Portlanders — except for the ones in the Pearl, anyway — will always own cars.

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With rents around $2 to $2.50 per square foot, two on-site event coordinators, generous community spaces, an exercise room, a huge dog-friendly rooftop garden and $700 soundproof windows that overlook some of the most impressive views in town, the 132-unit Linden in the Buckman neighborhood is seeing if Portland’s east bank is ready for upscale low-car housing.

“We wanted that quality like you see in the Pearl,” Linden business manager Jennifer Porter said last week. “We are moving people from the Pearl to this scene.”

Outside Linden at Southeast 12th and Burnside.

Porter’s boss, portfolio manager Steven Van Zile, said he realized, soon after moving from Los Angeles to start managing rental properties in Portland, how important bike users would be to his work here.

“I will never forget standing on Ankeny waiting for my appointment, and all of a sudden it’s just bike after bike — is there a derby going on?” Van Zile said. “There are 18,000 bike commuters into the city every day,” he went on, dropping his jaw for emphasis. “I just want 132 of them to live at Linden.”

So far, so good; of the 35 or so tenants who’ve signed up in the first month, Van Zile said 90 percent have showed up with bikes.

One-bedrooms start at $1,265 a month for 576 square feet; the biggest two-bedroom is $2,085 for 922 square feet. The two-level garage downstairs has 110 auto parking spaces, each of which rents separately from the units for $110 to $139.

Linden’s rooftop garden has views of both Mount Hood and downtown.

Van Zile said he’d been surprised by how many of the tenants are new to town.

“We’ve got people who work at OHSU, we’ve got retired, we’ve got families,” Porter said. “It’s a nice mix.”

Inside a Linden unit overlooking Portland’s central east side.

Oregon Health and Science University workers are a market of opportunity for Linden. For The Emery, they’re a necessity. Sitting at the foot of the Aerial Tram in the north edge of the South Waterfront, the V-shaped 118-unit apartment building is aimed squarely at students, young residents and instructors for the teaching hospital that is also the city’s largest employer.

The second-floor public deck at The Emery overlooks the Willamette River, Zidell shipyards and Moody Avenue.

The Emery’s studios start at $1,005 for 455 square feet. Most of the building is one-bedrooms in the $1,200 to $2,000 range, the biggest at 764 square feet, with a handful of two-bedrooms topping at $2,425 for 907 square feet.

Inside a demo unit at The Emery.

The Emery doesn’t offer any on-site auto parking spots, though residents can opt into a surface parking lot about one block away for $125 a month. There are, however, dozens of bike hooks on the walls of two large rooms on the first floor. (Linden places its bike parking on the walls of its garage, plus a freestanding repair stand — seemingly the latest must-have for bike-friendly developments in town.)

Upmarket rents for upmarket housing quality is a formula that’s new to many Portland neighborhoods. It’s one enforced, in part, by an arcane state property tax system that falls disproportionately on newer developments. But the developers of these buildings also made a conscious choice to put the city’s growing prosperity, airtight vacancy rates and the growing popularity of low-car life to the test — something Van Zile isn’t afraid to admit carries a dash of uncertainty.

“There hasn’t been anything built in a long, long time,” he said. “With that pressure comes going into waters that haven’t been swam in for a few years.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a weekly column. Read more here.

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Chuck YeagerDoug KlotzMichael Andersen (News Editor)Ted BuehlerCora Potter Recent comment authors
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Reza
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Reza

Considering the neighborhoods these buildings are in, they are ridiculously priced for their size. Low amenities (including no convenient grocery store) and lack of quality transit in South Waterfront until the MAX opens.

Cora Potter
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Cora Potter

Whoa – I bought at the peak of the housing bubble and the mortgage on my 2 bedroom 900 square ft, 6000 sq ft lot in Lents, 4 blocks from frequent service bus, on a pretty frequent bus line, 6 blocks from light rail, across the street from a grocery store (albeit a not so nice one) is 1/2 the amount they’re asking for rent on a 2 bedroom apartment. And, I pay out property taxes on an assessed value that’s 90% of the county assessors “real market” value.

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

Even better, Lovejoy Bakery is opening on the ground floor of the Emery, making it a nice pre-work stop for bike & streetcar commuters who take the aerial tram up the hill. (I’m not affiliated, I just love baked goods!)

110 car spots for 132 units might not be as low-car as we want, but it’s a huge improvement over what it could have been.

maxadders
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maxadders

Hey BikePortland: follow up in few years and see if you can estimate how many of these “low car” tenants aren’t actually just ignoring the suggestion and parking their cars on the street. Wealthy people like to talk the talk, but do they walk? Doubtful.

pixelgate
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pixelgate

Geez, my loft at the Wyatt in the Pearl was less expensive than these

V$
Guest
V$

My 3 bedroom house off the best bike lane in the city is 25% less a month. Who the hell are these people throwing away all their money?

Adam
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Adam

The rent in Portland is expensive. We pay just a hair under $1000 a month for an 450 square foot apt in inner NE. We sort of have no choice though – we can’t afford to rent a whole house, and do NOT want to live with the endless procession of freakazoid roommates you have to tolerate for dirt-cheap rent. But we are a couple. My mind boggles at the singletons who have to afford a thousand bucks a month just to put a roof over their heads in Portland. We need far, far, far more brownfield apartments constructed to meet demand. I wish it would happen faster.

kittens
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kittens

The prices are stupid, but people will pay them. I think the whole “low car” branding thing is greenwashing at it’s worst… just the latest accessory to your Eames rocker and Subaru. Not that either are bad, just predictable and nothing more than things, not real cultural change. In the end we’ll have a bunch of neighborhoods crammed to the gills with on-street parking (see NW) and homogeneous gentrification (see Pearl). The solution lies with the city to zone and permit growth where it is most likely to result in low car clusters.

Oregon Mamacita
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Oregon Mamacita

One thousand dollars for less than 500 feet? How do you build wealth
when you pay so much in rent? I thought the building was for low income folks because the architecture was so bland.

Oh well, after the market for expensive apartments crashes and the building is not maintained, it will become more affordable.

Doug Rosser
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Doug Rosser

New apartment buildings will always be eye-wateringly expensive. A building is only new once. The good news is that you can reasonably expect existing units around the area to come down (in time).

boneshaker
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boneshaker

If you have the down payment a $2100/month payment will buy you a $500,000 home. And most of those are bigger than 900sq. ft. That seems very expensive for the luxury of not having a place to park your car.

IanC
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IanC

For Rent: 60sq ft, 2 room cob house in quiet back yard back on the market! (Previous renters were raccoon allergic – upstairs neighbors). Handmade house in close-in SE Neighborhood. Walk to Methadone clinic! Bike to numerous overpriced grocery stores! Amenities include clay plaster walls, rack for garden tools, and little shelves for votive candles. New latrine dug in neighbor’s yard (please do not use during daylight hours). $675 + pet deposit + security deposit + 3 major credit card numbers + 2 pieces of original artwork my band can use on our next CD cover, bro!

Justin
Guest
Justin

I love my 2,500 square-foot ranch home in Portsmouth, that my wife and I own and pay a mortgage that is well under what most of these residents will pay/are paying for an apartment around or slightly above 1,000 square feet in size.

Oh, and I have bike lanes for days, plus get to watch the sun rise above the city every morning as I bike east on N Willamette to work.

TOM
Guest
TOM

So, let me understand this: some car spots at $110/mo. and others at $139/mo. Tell me: does $139 get the car a better view?

Ted Buehler
Guest

Michael — how about some pics of the bike parking. Did you try it out?

Ted Buehler