BY EMMA HALL
Forest Edge, built by Elite Development Northwest, LLC (top), Fortino, built by Ideabox (bottom)
Portland’s high-profile Street of Dreams celebrated its 35th anniversary with a showcase of luxury houses in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a 1,250 sq. ft. pre-fab of the future from Ideabox that sells for about $150,000, to a 6,000 sq. ft. three-story mansion hidden in the forest. But in these trying times when Portland’s home sales are plummeting (the newest report from the National Association of Realtors shows that overall home sales in Portland were down 28.1% from last year), just how necessary is a show that touts the merits of expansive home gyms and large separate guest quarters?
Operations manager Eric Stride said he was happy with the way the 2010 show turned out, and was “glad to be back” from the penthouse condos in the Pearl District featured last year, none of which pre-sold.
This year, Northwest Natural Street of Dreams returned to the west side of Portland, and ran July 31-Aug 29 at Cresap Summit, a new development off Skyline Boulevard. The featured houses were scaled back in size and price, and the aim of the show definitely wasn’t to sell multimillion-dollar houses as in years past.
“The show is geared towards generating ideas for people renovating or buying houses,” Stride said. “Street of Dreams showcases the latest trends.”
The obvious trend this year is sustainability. The largest house—Forest Edge, built by Elite Development Northwest, LLC—utilized repurposed trees removed from the property as everything from counters to doors to the huge dining table.
The Graduate, built by Renaissance Homes, featured a tankless gas water heater that uses 40% less energy by shutting itself down when the demand for heated water ceases. It is the first LEED certified Gold home showcased in the Street of Dreams.
“We showcased more affordable dream homes with a smaller feel this year,” Stride said. “As people scale back their houses due to the economy, we wanted to reflect that.”
When it comes to a smaller feel, the show lived up to that goal with “Fortino” by Ideabox. The 1,250 square feet house is built in a factory and then delivered and assembled in a week, with bamboo floors and Energy Star windows and lighting. It sells for only about $150,000, land not included.
Despite a few hiccups along the way (like on August 23, when an improperly installed fire pit caused a deck fire at one of the houses), this year’s Street of Dreams showed that perhaps there is hope for Portland’s housing market yet.
Both houses by Hearth and Home Residential Construction, Inc.—“Transitions” and “Refinement”—sold as a result of the show. Forest Edge was presold, as was The Graduate.
The event also paid off for the vendors of the many products featured within the houses. Perhaps it was the Ikea-esque layout of the homes that took visitors through the garages that showcased the vendors upon exiting. Jim Yoes, who makes cedar planter boxes made of reclaimed construction refuse for his four-month-old company, NW Cedar Specialties, sold eight of his boxes and landed some custom orders.
"I was sold on the idea of preserving resources and using things we used to throw away," Yoes said. "I just had no idea so many other people would be interested in reuse as well."
Emma Hall is web editor for Oregon Business.