Why the Pearl District is Turning Into a Self Parody?

Somewhat regular commenter, Mr. Thrifty, poses the topic of this post on the recent thread about Details of $75B Loan Modifications and Refinances Released.

The next topic on here should be “Why the Pearl District is Turning
Into a Self Parody”. For all the pretentious hyper self conscious
neighborhoods in Portland, there truly is no place here less authentic
than the Pearl District.

Coming up with fresh topics isn’t always easy so I think it’s worth discussing regardless whether it is a perception or reality.  We are currently renting in a recently constructed building in the Pearl (why).  I like living here but it is currently a temporary situation and I can’t say at this point whether I would want it to be “permanent”.

The Pearl District started its shift from mostly industrial to mostly residential and business supporting the residential in the mid 90s.  My belief is that Chown Pella was one of the first residential spaces and that the building is on SHPO’s Special Assessment program which froze the tax assessed value for 15 years.  A partial list of other buildings specially assessed includes The Avenue, The Edge, and Marshal Wells.  The annual tax bills in these buildings should be under $1000 for the most part during the program.  The program does not apply to new construction buildings.  The incentive is for historic buildings.

I like the accessibility.  We walk to Safeway, the Rose Garden and other services that we used to drive to.  When we do drive, I’m not  fan of winding up three floors of parking garage to reach the street.  Paying a meter or risking a ticket to run back inside (after unstrapping and therefore schlepping the toddler) because you forgot something is a pain.  A large percentage of the population commutes without a car (obviously that’s not exclusive to the Pearl but the location makes that easier).

Clearly times have changed.  RMLS says that there are 348 “condos” listed for sale in the 97209 zip code.  Apartments were converted to condos (Lexis).  The Wyatt reversed that trend when the developer couldn’t sell the units.  Like the Louisa, there aren’t a lot of available units as rentals.  The Asa, built as apartments, also claims to be doing well.  The Sitka and 10th and Hoyt are two additional rental buildings, along with private party condo rentals, in the Pearl.  I don’t know how the Encore and 937 are doing selling their newly constructed units.  The concept for these buildings probably occurred three to five years ago.b

Construction plans for Fields Park are firming up.  When the plans for Centennial Mills and the train crossing modifications are approved (eliminating the need for horns), construction of the first traditional park in the Pearl District will be possible (this month’s Northwest Examiner newspaper has an article).

There’s not a neighborhood in Portland (the country) that doesn’t have pros and cons.  I expect that just about everyone has a, “I would never live in XXX, ” for their own personal reasons.  The Pearl is no exception.  One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.

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