« Can G-E and GBD Make M&F another WK? | Main | From the Last 50 in 150 »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I've always thought of the explosion of new hotels in downtown Portland as the SRO's of the future. I suspect the fancy condo's will meet a similar fate. Once the frenzy of the past 5 or 10 years tempers a bit, we'll see where the sustainable market really exists. As land costs find their equilibrium, the second wave will find a shore to land on.


I would like to think there is another wave coming of more affordable downtown housing.

I have my doubts. Land costs seem to dictate high density construction which brings high rise construction costs which bring costs that aren't close to affordable without subsidies.

Everything that I hear from several developers is that most affordable and work force housing needs to be in low - mid rise construction where the costs can be more reasonable..this seems to suggest that the most affordable housing will happen at the edges or on the close in east side where 5 story construction makes sense.


You talk about "land costs" as if they are somehow set in a vacuum. They are simply a percentage of the value of the improvements that go on them. If you can't sell the finished product the land is worthless.


The question seems to be why should this second wave occur? What is the economic thrust or lynch pin? For starters the land cost will need to subside as a lower percentage of the deal.

Though there will be a group developers willing to take a lower profit for what ever reason, right now, I don’t see land costs in the Pearl reaching a low enough point to make a lower or even middle rung of housing price points.

I believe these types of housing will be pushed to the periphery and into a different neighborhood.

Scott Hoornaert

Here in Toronto, where the condo market is much more mature, there have been subsequent waves of more affordable high-rise projects. In fact, multi-family housing is now more than half the residential market; I believe the proportion is even higher in Vancouver. I suspect that Portland will follow a similar trend, if to a lesser degree. High-density living has been sanctified by the upper middle-class, and others will want to follow them. Even if condos haven't yet gained wide acceptance, I think that some of the ingrained dislike Americans have of "tenements" and high-rise "slums" has been countered.

While they are never cheap on a cost-per-area basis, condos (especially in smaller, wood-frame buildings) can offer decent value for first time owners and small families. I have seen new condos within walking distance of subway stations advertised for as little as $99,000--and this in a city which remains significantly more expensive than Portland. Of course, the cheaper ones are in outlying areas: something that height-phobic Portlanders might not take to very kindly.



There is a significant number of Design Reviews that occur annually throughout Portland, not just the higher profile projects in the Central City.

May I suggest that you speak with Jeff Joslin whom manages Design Review for the City and get a primer on the extent of Design Overlay Zoning as well as the range of development proposals that are reviewed. The Design Overlay zone can be found in the Central City, Gateway Regional Center, most established neighborhoods, and business/main street corridors.

It would also be worthwhile, especially for regular readers of this blog, to follow a development proposal from beginning to end and from the client and architect's perspective, Design Review staff, and the Design Commission. It is a rather complex story and an iterative process, which design and Design Review fundamentally are about: fluidity of design intent and formal expression working within constraints of time, space, place, economics, planning, and politics.

The Design Commission informs the review process and helps shape major changes to our urban form as well as serving as an arbitrator of the process for less intensive development proposals when there is significant disagreement between one or more parties that results in an appeal.

The Design Commission is also unpaid and comprised of architects, a landscape architect, developers, members of the arts and design community broadly, and the public-at-large.

Commissioner McCulloch will be missed and in my opinion his leadership helped to create one of the best Design Commissions of recent past that helped to guide the City and it citizens through an astounding expansion of building with great success.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lead Sponsors


Portland Architecture on Facebook

More writing from Brian Libby


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad

Paperblogs Network

Google Analytics

  • Google Analytics

Awards & Honors