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.


Planning Commission finds ‘missing middle,’ votes for more housing citywide

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on September 17th, 2018 at 1:04 pm

A 1905 duplex on SE 33rd Avenue in Portland. Like many other cities, Portland made these illegal on most lots in the mid 20th century. Photo by Portland for Everyone.

“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of? It’s buildings, people or cars.”
— Chris Smith, Planning Commissioner

An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by BikePortland’s former news editor, Michael Andersen, who started covering the need for “missing middle” housing — especially in Portland’s most bikeable neighborhoods — for us in 2015. We last covered this issue in May, just before the crucial public hearings described here.

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The most provocative housing policy event of this week in the Pacific Northwest started happening four months ago.
[Read more…]

Inside the “Bike Lounge” at new Modera Belmont apartments

by on May 9th, 2018 at 10:32 am

Come on in says Community Manager Daunte Francis.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

It was the River City Bicycles vending machine that first caught my eye.

Not the run-of-the-mill inner tube vending machines many of you have already seen (there’s one at Green Zebra Grocery in north Portland) — I’m talking about a real vending machine with lots of selection and cool products: like hats, bottle cages, stylish water bottles, high-quality chain lube, bells, and more.

After seeing the machine in my social media feeds, I had to swing by the new Modera Belmont apartments on Southeast 6th and Belmont to get a closer look.

Assistant Community Manager Daunte Francis welcomed me at the door and humored my strange request to see the machine and snap a few photos.

I had no idea it lived inside a “Bike Lounge.”[Read more…]

Speak up or sprawl out: “Missing middle” housing proposal hits the planning commission tonight

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on May 8th, 2018 at 10:28 am

The “safety in numbers” phenomenon works in housing too.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus)

This is a guest post by Michael Andersen, BikePortland’s news editor from 2013 to 2016. He’s a writer for 1000 Friends of Oregon’s pro-housing campaign Portland for Everyone.

There are two ways for more Portlanders to live in bikeable neighborhoods.

One way is to add good bike infrastructure to neighborhoods without it. The other way is to let more people live in neighborhoods that have it already. Portland should be doing both.[Read more…]

City weighs parking rule for NW that could block a fifth of new homes

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 5th, 2016 at 11:41 am

The Tess O’Brien Apartments on NW 19th and Pettygrove, built with no on-site parking, are the largest project that would have been illegal under a proposal going before city council tomorrow.
(Photo: Ted Timmons)

Portland’s City Council will meet Wednesday to consider a new mandatory parking requirement that, if it had existed for the last eight years, would have illegalized 23 percent of the new housing supply in northwest Portland during the period.

The Tess O’Brien Apartments, a 126-unit project that starts pre-leasing next week and will offer some of the cheapest new market-rate housing in northwest Portland, couldn’t have been built if they’d been required to have 42 on-site parking spaces, its developer said in an interview.

“Do the math,” Martin Kehoe of Portland LEEDS Living said Friday. “The apartments at the Tess O’Brien are between $1250 and $1400 a month. If we were required to build parking, you’d be between $1800 and $2000 a month. … It probably just wouldn’t have been built. And then what’s that going to do to the existing project that’s out there and has been built? It’s just going to drive the rents of those up.”

[Read more…]

Guest Post: How to build a neighborhood with character(s)

by on June 1st, 2016 at 10:51 am

Fall leaves on SE Ankeny-7

An illegal neighborhood in southeast Portland.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

This post is written by Neil Heller, a Portland-based planning consultant.

I recently visited a shop to get a new bike. I was shown two options: a gorgeous, yet expensive, custom-built single-speed cruiser and a massive cargo bike with all sorts of gleaming add-ons including an electric assist.

I like both of these bikes but they don’t quite fit my riding style — short commutes but also a bit of recreational road cycling on the weekends. I asked about a more versatile bike, one in between the two I was being shown, but was told road bikes are illegal.

Certainly I had seen some road bikes being ridden on my way over? These types are all an older style, I was informed, and can only be purchased used. No new road bikes are being built right now. Sorry.

By now it’s likely that you already see the metaphor and realize I never visited such a shop. I think this metaphor for housing choice is a good one because it highlights how laughable having such limited options can be.

[Read more…]

Portland is finally adding homes almost as fast as people are moving here

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on May 19th, 2016 at 2:58 pm

The population is up 16 percent since 2005, but the number of homes is only up 11 percent.
*The 2010 jump is related to better data from the decennial Census.
Data: American Community Survey. Chart: BikePortland.

After 10 years of falling further and further behind the number of people moving to Portland — and paying the price in rising rents, especially in bikeable areas — Portland nearly kept up with its own migration last year.

That’s according to American Community Survey figures released Thursday, which showed Multnomah County adding 4,688 net new homes in 2015. That’s the most to be reported from this data set since at least 2005, the first year it was available.

Since that year, Multnomah County’s population has grown 59 percent faster than its housing supply. That’s combined with relatively rapid growth in high-wage local jobs to rapidly drive up housing prices.

[Read more…]

Portland’s biggest, baddest bike parking facility is about to open

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on May 13th, 2016 at 10:16 am

Inside the Lloyd Cycle Station, where you can catch a game on the tube while you chill after a ride.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland unless noted)

Generally speaking, Portland does bike parking better than any city in North America. And one of the continent’s biggest bike parking projects is about to open in the middle of it.

The Lloyd Cycle Station, which opens to the public next month in the basement of the Lloyd 700 Building at 700 NE Multnomah Street, will offer half of the record-breaking 1,200 indoor bike parking spaces constructed as part of Hassalo on Eighth in the Lloyd District. But unlike most residential bike parking projects, this facility will also be open to people who work or shop in the area.

The 24-hour facility will offer service from on-site mechanics, paid lockers, showers, a bike-repair stand, extra-large cargo bike parking, a bike wash and free “commute consultations.”

[Read more…]

Affordable-housing alliance to city: Legalize ‘missing middle’ in bikeable neighborhoods

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 22nd, 2016 at 1:58 pm

2314 and 2316 SE Salmon: built in 1927, illegal to build today. City Council could change that with the comprehensive plan it’s about to vote on.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As Portlanders debate ways to deal with the city’s continuing surge of housing prices, a coalition of local affordable-housing developers and service providers says Portland can’t afford to continue banning so-called “missing middle” housing from most of the city.

Duplexes, triplexes, internal home divisions and two-story garden apartments are common throughout many of the neighborhoods Portland built in the early 20th century. Today, those neighborhoods are the city’s most walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly — but since 1959, city code has made it illegal to build more neighborhoods like that. Homes with multiple kitchens or space for fewer than two cars are forbidden even on most residential land in the central city.

[Read more…]

Portland’s best model for population growth without catastrophe is right in front of us

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 15th, 2016 at 3:52 pm

2018 NW Everett Street, built 1910.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Part of NW Portland Week.

Portland’s “huge population boom” and “explosive growth” have driven such a painful housing shortage that it’s not uncommon these days to hear Portlanders wish the city would stop creating so many jobs.

Since 2008, the city’s population growth rate has been about 9,000 net new residents per year, or 1.5 percent.

But when many of the buildings that continue to define northwest Portland were built, Portland’s population was growing by 7 percent every year for years on end. In the decade of the 1900s, the city that started at 90,000 residents added 11,679 new ones every year on average.

[Read more…]

Average apartment building costs fell sharply during no-parking apartment boom

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 28th, 2016 at 11:13 am

Southeast Ankeny Street.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

In 2013, when the Portland City Council began requiring most new apartment buildings of 30 or more units to include on-site parking garages, housing watchdogs warned that this would drive up the prices of newly built apartments.

Because the city still lets anyone park for free on public streets, they predicted, landlords wouldn’t be able to charge car owners for the actual cost of building parking spaces, which can come to $100 to $200 per month. So the cost of the garages would be built into the price of every new bedroom instead, further skewing new construction toward luxury units.

Three years later, rough data suggests that this could be exactly what happened.

[Read more…]