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Frank Dufay

Right...which is why they need underground parking? If they're so wonderfully "green"...can we be spared the sight of the Range Rovers in the Pearl? :-)

Justin

Hey, they need 'em if they have to go to the NW Industrial area for a bite and a pint at Portland Brewing Co.

regarding the Casey, tho... it seems to me that not much needs to be said, as it is simply a very upscale efficient vertical stacking of units. How exactly does window placement relate to architecture...? I think, at a price point starting @ 600k, that we can assume all the materials in this project will be very fine, indeed.

I'd actually prefer it if Brian would focus on some of the more interesting, innovative projects in Portland. Towers are cool, too. But they seem to be rather repititive... particularly in the Pearl. Oh well! Nature of the beast, so to speak.

Rich

As Brian suggested, that someone is willing to build a high-rise on a quarter-block lot bodes well for Portland architecture. The same goes for the willingness to put parking underground, which is rare even in downtown development. Above-ground parking structures rarely manage to be much better than just plain ugly-looking, and they seriously mar the overall architectural landscape in most American cities.

Aside from these general virtues of the building, my first thought in looking at the rendering is that it's very handsome. The balconies and windows along its edges give it a sense of lightness, while the (presumably) masonry-clad core relates well to the warm materials that characterize the Pearl's old buildings. This new building is neither dull nor gaudy, aggressively sleek and modern nor faux historicist.

It may be somewhat "tame" architecturally, but I think that's by no means necessarily a bad thing. After all, unlike the failed experiments in other artistic fields, we have to live with our architectural mistakes--they're too big to toss in a drawer and too expensive to just tear up.

Still, I understand the desire on the part of modern architecture enthusiasts to see more daring work here in Portland.

MarkDaMan

Funny, Portland builds their district different than anywhere else. Usually one developer comes into an area and builds a few massive towers. Than many more people line up and want to build infill around the major towers.

In the Pearl, we have yet to get a major focal tower (maybe the Metropolitan, but that is still just one tower out of many) however we have lots of great infill. That's really how I view this building. It's good that it is there, but I don't know if it will be much more than, just there.

I'm happy to see the LEED push, hopefully they can get those extra two points. Also, Brian, thanks for featuring this project. I enjoy reading the goings on in the Pearl and SoWa. It is especially nice since I will probably walk past this property tonight while celebrating first Thursday!

Justin M

The Casey looks like a Portland building; square and boring but efficient.

That said, who are these people paying $600,000 for a condo? Who can afford that with Portland's relatively low salaries? Is the Pearl really worth that much, I tend to think not.

Carlo

The amazing thing is that $600,000 for a place in the Pearl is no longer unusual. There are probably 20 existing condos currently on the market in the Pearl for more than $600K.

Justin asks: Is the Pearl really worth that much? Well, objectively, no. But it's all relative. Is a tiny 1940s bungalow elsewhere in Portland worth $450,000? Of course not. Is a starter house in Los Angeles worth a million? Absolutely not. But that's what they're going for. Housing is overpriced in every West Coast city; Portland prices, fortunately, remains less absurd than most.

But I will say this about the Pearl: I've lived here for a year now, after living in a bunch of other big cities and small towns in the U.S., mostly up and down the East Coast. And in terms of quality of life the Pearl is, by a mile, the absolute best neighborhood I've ever lived in. What's really unique about it is how self-contained it is. After a year, I have yet to find anything I need in life that I can't get within a 10-minute walk (or streetcar ride) of my home. And the restaurants! My god, the restaurants! Noplace else I've ever lived has come close to offering so much in so compact an area.

Justin M

The Pearl is pretty unique and probably one of the few places in Portland you can live comfortably without a car.

That said: $600,000 is too much. And with real estate beginning to tank all across the country, I think they're gonna have a hard time selling condo's at that price.

Lance

Of course those condos are worth that much. If they weren't, people wouldn't be paying so much. Many of the units in the South Waterfront cost more than this, and people are camping out and waiting in line every time a new batch of condos go on sale.

Price is all relative. A $600,000 downtown condo is a pretty appealing bargain if you are looking to leave your plain, two million dollar ranch house in Orange County California.

Justin M

I like condo development and I support high density housing. So in that regard The Casey is grat.

I just think $600,000 is too high compared to how much it costs to rent in Portland coupled with Portland's relatively low salaries.

$600,000 is too much for a condo in Portland.

Carlo

Obviously none of the condos in the Pearl (or the South Waterfront, or downtown) are being marketed to people who are earning Portland's "relatively low salaries." None of this is working-class housing. This is high-end living for people with bucks.

I guess if you think $600,000 is too much for a condo in the Pearl, you won't be in the market for the penthouse currently under construction at the rehabbed Crane building, about a block away from the Casey, which just went on the market for $3 million. That's $1,000 a square foot! (From what I hear, several penthouses at the new Metropolitan in the Pearl also sold recently for $3,000,000+.)

Penthouses aside, the going rate for typical Pearl condos seems to be about $425 a square foot and up these days. That's expensive for a place to live, to be sure, but as an investment that's appreciating in value at a rate of 15 to 20 percent a year for the past few years, it may be a good deal.

Justin M

That's expensive for a place to live, to be sure, but as an investment that's appreciating in value at a rate of 15 to 20 percent a year for the past few years, it may be a good deal.

Doesn't this strike you as odd? 15 to 20% appreciation. What's causing that? And what on God's green earth makes you think it's going to continue?

I'm genuinely curious who are the people buying these condos. My guess is speculators, and unfortunately, their prices don't accurately reflect true market value.

Carlo

Well, again, this is all relative. There are lots of places in the West -- Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, etc. -- where housing prices have been going up 40 or 50 percent annually in the past few years. So, relatively speaking, Portland's gains have been modest -- appreciation here has really been no higher than the nationwide average -- which means Portland is probably much less likely than most West Coast cities to experience a bursting bubble.

As far as speculators, many Pearl developments have some sort of anti-speculation rules. In my building, for example, there are severe restrictions on the percentage of units that can be rented out by their owner. And I hear that buyers at the new Metropolitan must sign contracts requiring them to keep their units for at least two years before they're allowed to resell. Etc.

Carlo

As for who all these buyers are, this is anecdotal but based on the folks I seem to be meeting in the neighborhood, they're all from elsewhere. We came here last year from the East Coast (as have a lot of others I've met). I've got neighbors who came here from Seattle, Dallas and, of course, all over California. You know all those stories you see in the paper about how Portland expects a big increase in population over the next few decades? These are the people fueling that growth. These are the people buying all those condos. I don't see a lot of long-time PDXers buying them.

Justin

Americans on average move every 7 years. There are also over 6 billion people in the world, with many millions of millionaires in the US alone.

Portland is a very attractive place to live for people - a very active restaurant scene, parks, natural beauty, and it is a very safe city. A very small city.

It really isn't hard to believe that a small slice of the millions of rich people in the world would choose to live in a Portland Pearl condo. I know lots of people who would if they could afford it...

Justin

Additionally, I would say right now there is a huge housing shortage in comparison to the demand of medium/high density housing in inner cities... particularly places like Portland, Seattle, and other cities across the country. Rather a pity, but thats really what's driving prices: demand.

As someone else pointed out, there are severe restrictions on speculators - developers are heavily penalized by lending institutions if they allow high rates of turnover and speculators to buy units in their projects. It also doesn't help their retail ground floor tenants.

Justin M

I agree with you guys, Portland is great. And the Pearl is unique to anywhere else in the country.

But when housing traditionally appreciates at 4% a year, and housing is now appreciating at 15 to 20%, something is up. And none of the factors you have suggested would cause this much of an increase. An increasae to be sure, but not 15-20%.

Carlo

But Justin M, your original premise was that "$600,000 is too much for a condo in the Pearl" and to question whether the Pearl was worth that much. The fact that real estate prices have been escalating at 15-20 percent a year or more of late has nothing to do with the Pearl or even Portland. It's a nationwide trend.

Getting back to the original point of this thread -- the architectural design of the Casey -- I think this whole trend does make one important point: When people buy property, they base their decision on what and where to buy on lots of factors, but architectural design is probably the least important of them.

Justin M

Architectural design probably should be a bigger factor in deciding to buy a home. And Carlo, since you own a condo in the Pearl, I hope you're right about appreciation. Let me just say, in my opinion, the nationwide trend is shifting.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/

www.thehousingbubbleblog.com


Carlo

Ultimately you'll be proven right, of course, since these things always run in cycles. The speculators who are buying up condos just to make money will get out just as soon as they find another investment that gives them a higher rate of return than real estate. The big question -- and nobody knows the answer to this -- is: Will that happen next week, or two years from now after prices have gone up another 30 percent?

When it does happen, those of us who bought places in the Pearl because we wanted a nice place to live -- well, we'll just stay put. (Our only regret when we moved here last year was that we didn't come two years earlier, when we could have gotten a place for a third less money!)

sat

$600,000 for a place in the Casey? Ha ha, have you seen the price list? Nothing for that cheap. And HOAs are running about $1,000 a month.

Brian Porter

I agree with the comment that it is "a shame" that we don't have more 1/4 block buildings in Portland. I think the Casey is very elegant building partially because its sleek design is placed on a quarter block. Another advantage of the 1/4 block design is that, on average, there are only about 4 units per floor, and not much space is wasted in common hallways.

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