Friday, March 20, 2009
Street of Dreams switches to condominiums
2009 showcase will take place in Pearl District
Portland Business Journal - by Wendy Culverwell Business Journal staff writer
The Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland will conduct its annual showcase of luxury homes in the Pearl District this year after losing the Lake Oswego site it intended to develop for the 2009 NW Natural Street of Dreams.
The association will announce today that this year’s Street of Dreams will take place in recently finished Pearl District condominiums instead of the usual lineup of custom-built homes packed with eye-popping amenities and price tags to match.
The 2009 edition will concentrate on recently completed condos.
It didn’t make sense to inject new construction into an overbuilt market, said Eric Stride, show operations manager for the Home Builders Association.
Stride declined to release more details until today.
The Street of Dreams is the oldest and largest of the events produced by the Home Builders Association and is credited with spawning the national mania for the concept. It has been held annually in Portland for 33 years.
Luxury home builders use it to demonstrate the latest in home design and construction technology. Thousands of visitors pay an admission fee to gawk at over-the-top bathrooms, doggy spas, theater-quality media rooms and bedrooms the size of gymnasiums.
But with seven-figure price tags, Street of Dreams homes have been slow to sell in recent years, cooling builder interest.
The 2008 show featured six homes, down from nine or more in previous years. Despite the economy, five of the six homes sold.
Portland joins countless other cities with scaled back home shows this year. The residential real estate crisis and related credit crisis have dried up interest in organizing and financing the complicated events.
“The big problem right now is that lenders are really in a state of crisis and aren’t lending for construction,” said Bryan Ashbaugh, CEO and co-owner of Street of Dreams Inc., a private Woodinville, Wash., firm that has organized 82 shows in 26 years since it formed in 1986.
Ashbaugh said the company’s best year was 2006, when it staged five major shows. As the real estate market dried up, so did demand for Street of Dreams events.
None are booked for 2009.
The company, though, has contracts for nearly a dozen shows in 2010 and beyond. Ashbaugh said developers are depending on an end to the recession soon.
“It is absolutely inevitable there will be a turnaround,” he said.