This might have been posted in the infill thread. If so, sorry.
Trendy Street Highlights Bigger Portland Trends
Erin Hoover Barnett
The Sunday Oregonian
April 20, 2008
From the window of her Blue Gardenia cafe on Portland's North Mississippi Avenue, Linn Goldsby can see what developers say --and Goldsby hopes --is the future for this transforming corridor.
A massive crane looms over a blockwide construction site at Failing Street. Workers are assembling a 188-unit apartment and retail complex that will rise six stories at its highest point. The Trammell Crow project is the street's tallest and largest yet and an example of the density to come.
Just 10 years ago, North Mississippi was a neglected byway targeted by the city for renewal. Now it's a hub of restaurants, boutiques, recording studios and, soon, condos, apartments and work space.
The street showcases major trends shaping Portland: the growing popularity of urban living; displacement of the poor; the drive toward density along key arteries; and green living and building.
Michele Reeves, a Windermere Cronin & Caplan Realty Group broker active on Mississippi, describes the street as "a little bit magical."
It's remarkably close in --the U.S. Bancorp tower looms to the south like a temple --yet it's tucked away, offering an air of discovery. It's short and concentrated with charming storefronts, so it filled out quickly. And property values fell so low during decades of disinvestment that young people and entrepreneurs could readily buy in.
Mississippi has, Reeves says, "this unique geography to it that as you get more bodies on the street is going to lend it to outpacing some of the other residential commercial districts in viability."
Goldsby needs those "bodies on the street." She and her mother, Marcie Goldsby, launched Blue Gardenia Bakery & Coffee Roasters in 2005 in a converted warehouse. On weekends, customers line up for from-scratch cinnamon rolls, muffins and cookies and fresh coffee. But the weekday turnout is thinner.
"A lot of people on the street have mixed feelings about development," Goldsby says, "but it's hard to thrive without it."
Downturn is felt
More development is coming. Brian Wannamaker, who jump-started the street's transformation in 2001 when he started renovating and leasing buildings to hipster hangouts such as Gravy and Crow Bar, says, "I think all we've done so far is flirt with the development."
The recent downturn in the housing market put several projects on hold, including Kurisu International's plans for condos and a therapeutic garden north of Shaver Street. But Trammell Crow's 188 apartments and 9,000 square feet of retail and the Mississippi Avenue Lofts, with 32 condos and retail space just south of Skidmore Street, are under construction.
And brothers Bryan and Colin McLean expect to break ground this spring on NuMiss
. The three-story building across from the Mississippi Lofts site will have ground-floor retail and two floors of office space.
Steve Hagan, the brothers' Windermere broker, says as young creatives age, "they may not want their home to serve as their office or studio space. If we can provide a really cool alternative, priced right, it gives them a nice address, and they can bring clients and customers there."
In addition, developer Ben Kaiser plans a mixed-use building at North Cook and Borthwick behind Grand Central Baking. It will include ground-floor retail with four floors above containing 88 live/work spaces with shared bathrooms.
If the housing market rebounds, developer Jim Winkler says he plans an "iconic" mixed-use apartment project
rising six or seven stories on the southwest corner of Mississippi and Fremont Street.
"I'm thrilled with what's happened on Mississippi," says Winkler, who remade North Portland's Bess Kaiser Hospital into Adidas Village in 2002. "Look at the creativity. Look at the energy. It's one of those places young creative people want to live and work."
All the projects boast green practices from reusing rainwater to energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. And offering housing close to work is all about minimizing carbon emissions.
But it comes at a price. The Mississippi Avenue Lofts, for example, start at $289,900 for a one-bedroom and $399,900 for a two-bedroom.
The Portland Development Commission is responding to affordability concerns with such projects as Killingsworth Station, with Winkler as the developer. The project for North Interstate Avenue at Killingsworth Street, which is still being planned, features 54 mostly one-bedroom condos. The PDC will subsidize 21 units, making them affordable to people earning 80 percent of the median income, or about $38,000 a year for a single person. Construction is expected to begin this summer.
With market forces encouraging plenty of development, the city is considering shifting public money from developer incentives --such as low-interest loans to improve storefronts --to preserving affordability.
Steve Dotterer, the city's principal planner, says urban neighborhoods are transforming much quicker than they did in the 1970s and '80s. "Does it mean we do less investment ourselves?" he asks. "Does it mean we do more protection?"
Residents are involved, too. The Boise Neighborhood Association, which encompasses the Mississippi business district, is convening residents, businesses, nonprofits and developers to discuss affordable-housing options. Ideas include converting garages into homes and asking developers to dedicate affordable units.
"Why not think big?" says Paige Coleman, the association's chairwoman. "You never know where it will take you."
Erin Hoover Barnett: 503-294-5011; email@example.com