Sponsored by George Fox University
Home Back Issues July 2011 Suburban builders move to the city

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 Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Portland: Where young people go to work?

News
Friday, June 06, 2014
UntitledBY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.


Read more...

Creating a culture of compliance

Business tips
Thursday, June 19, 2014
DataBY MONICA ENAND | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Nine tips for building habits among employees to respond when needed.


Read more...

OB Video: Dress for Success

News
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
DFSOBY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR

Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.


Read more...

The business of running a food cart

News
Thursday, June 05, 2014
OBM1BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

What does it take to launch and run one of these mobile food businesses?  


Read more...

Updated: Disrupting innovation

News
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
070814 thumb disputive-innovationBY LINDA BAKER  | OB EDITOR

The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation  — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment. 

Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.


Read more...

The global challenge

News
Friday, June 27, 2014
062714 thumb globalmarketBY JASON NORRIS | OB BLOGGER

Over the last several months we have seen a wave of cross-border acquisitions, primarily U.S.-based companies looking to purchase non-U.S.-based companies. There are a few reasons for this, but the main culprit is the U.S. corporate tax system. The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.


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