Suburban builders move to the city

| Print |  Email
Articles - July 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

 

0711_ComingInFromTheSuburbs
A Renaissance home in SE Portland. // Photo by Teresa Meier

Since the mid 1990s, thousands of Oregonians — families, retirees, young adults — have forsaken the suburbs in favor of inner-city living. Now a new group, suburban homebuilders, are also jumping on the urban housing bandwagon. “People are moving here from Boston and New York and they don’t want to move to the suburbs, they want Portland,” says Randy Sebastian, president of Renaissance Homes, a Lake Oswego-based developer. “We were completely missing that market.”

Last fall, Sebastian moved out of his comfort zones in Wilsonville and Lake Oswego and built the first of what are now 30 “Vintage Collection” homes scattered around Portland neighborhoods. About 10 have sold for $350,000-$600,000.

Renaissance was badly bruised by the recession. In 2008, Sebastian was left holding 2,000 lots, plus 94 homes that eventually sold at auction for about $200,000 less than the original price. And Portland’s urban growth boundary restricts the amount of suburban land available for development, says Sebastian. “The best way for my business to survive is to look to the city.”

National homebuilder D.R. Horton appears to share that opinion. In May, the company broke ground on one of its first inner-city projects in the country: a “microhomes” development in Portland’s SE Division neighborhood. The 29 units range from a 364-square-foot studio to 687-square-foot detached home and will sell from the low to high $100,000s. The company has yet to release homes for sale.

The suburban housing migration mirrors efforts on the part of retailers such as  WalMart and Home Depot to reconfigure their stores for the urban market, says Gerard Mildner, a professor of real estate at Portland State University. So how do homegrown Portland developers feel about the big-box competition? Their presence does re-enact a bit of the “local coffee shop vs. national coffee shop” dynamic, says Eli Spevak, a builder who specializes in the kind of small-scale community housing projects D.R. Horton is now pursuing.

But as a proponent of high-density, low-impact living, Spevak is not about to complain. “I wish there were more,” he says.

LINDA BAKER

 

More Articles

The Green Paradox

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL

Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.


Read more...

Hall of Flame

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

A Power Lunch at Oswego Grill.


Read more...

Eco Zoned

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY HANNAH WALLACE

Travelers have always come to Oregon for its natural beauty. But will the increasing popularity of agritourism, European-style hiking getaways and forest resorts relax Oregon's notoriously strict land-use laws?


Read more...

Photo Diary: Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Latest
Thursday, May 14, 2015
IMG 8469BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.


Read more...

100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.


Read more...

5 things to know about veterans in the workforce

The Latest
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
070215-vetsthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are more than 10 million former military members working in the United States.


Read more...

Oregon businesses face destruction from future earthquake

The Latest
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
htctthumb1BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS