Joseph Gallivan has an excellent feature in today's Portland Tribune about the Falcon Art Community that developer Brian Wannamaker has made out of a 1911 apartment building along North Albina Avenue.
When Wannamaker bought the building 10 years ago, he had to hire "a live-in security guard to shoo out the hookers and the people who slept in the halls." Today, however, it's a hub of musicians and artists, but also includes many of the low-income residents who were there when Wannamaker originally purchased the building. He's allowed their rents to stay below market value.
Meanwhile, the developer has created a strong sense of community. One artist was hired to paint portraits of longtime residents, which hang in the hallway. Wannamaker also built 24 work-only studios in the basement for artists, musicians and writers. He's also in the process of putting in an in-house bar. Naturally, the residents seem to love it -- even guitarist Johnny Marr of legendary 80s Manchester band The Smiths (a personal fave), who stayed here last year while producing an album for local act Modest Mouse. Gavin Shettler, owner of the Portland Art Center, also lived at the Falcon until recently.
If Gallivan's article is accurate, this is a guy who has eschewed the notion of maximizing profits in order to build something more valuable: a place where neighbors old and new, black and white, young artists and elderly retirees, are co-habitating. This is a place people want to be, and in the end I'll bet that will be lucrative for Wannamaker. There aren't hard feelings about longtime residents and members of one Portland's traditionally African American neighborhoods being driven away. Isn't that worth more than a few hundred bucks more collected in rent?