If developers Ted Gilbert and Beam Development, the architects at Works Partnership and creative director Gavin Shettler have anything to say about it, 82nd Avenue in Portland may no longer be seen as the armpit of Portland with its an unpleasant melange of traffic, big-box chain stores and prostitutes.
Recently I made the trek out to 82nd near Burnside to see Milepost 5, an ambitious but welcome live-work development intended for artists and other creative types. The development consists of two renovated buildings: a
new just completed structure designed by Works that consists of for-sale loft condos and work space, and a to-be-renovated old brick retirement home next door, Baptist Manor, that will offer rental units to live and work in. Both the old and new structures will also endeavor to create a strong sense of community and collaboration.
The completed building by Works provides the best eye candy, and it's where I'd want to live. But older Manor building has lots of spaces with tremendous potential, such as a huge industrial-sized kitchen, and immediately adjacent to it a former church sanctuary, complete with pews, that would make a terrific screening room. There's also a wrap-around courtyard that the kitchen looks out onto, which would make a great restaurant with outdoor seating.
I don't think a painting or sculpture is required as proof when one signs the lease or mortgage agreement, but it's easy to imagine a group of young, creative people here -- some staying for many years and others just passing through. Most of the for-sale units are somewhat affordable, too. A 443-square foot loft spaces starts at $134,995, although naturally it's on the east side of the building, which sits on busy 82nd. Milepost 5 does look out on a lovely park, though. And for those considering such a dwelling but iffy about the location (I sure would be), keep in mind that the place is just a few blocks from the 82nd Avenue Max station.
The hiring of Gavin Shettler, who for the last few years led the nonprofit but now defunct Portland Art Center, is particularly nice to see. Shettler will be exhibiting art in several of the uninhabited units each month, and he'll also organize a lot of other events there. It's great to see him having landed on his feet after the unfortunate PAC closing. Kudos should also go to Gilbert, commissioner Sam Adams and others behind the scene making this happen.
If you move into the for-rent older building, though, where there are 70 years of history as a retirement home, be prepared for the occasional ghost. While Shettler and I toured the space, one room had a locked door and the audible sound of a TV inside. Everyone has long since moved out and there weren't any employees scheduled to work that day. I half expected Jack Nicholson to peek his head through the door and say, "Heeeeerrr's Johnny!" Considering this is an artists' enclave now, I fully expect this to be put to creative purposes.