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August 22, 2005

Rock, Paper, House, Condo

Another condo, just what we need, or so one developer thinks. A historic home in the Sellwood area of SE Portland is soon going to be trucked away to make room for a mixed-use condo building. The Clay Rabbit House, a neighborhood landmark, was recently bought by a developer who intends to replace the existing building with residential lofts over first-floor retail space. Willy Week has more information on the development.

I am a big fan of condos in general. Owning a condo allows me to have the joys of homeownership (equity! painting my own walls! fixing my own dishwasher!) with the convenience of an apartment. Community housing is more energy-efficient, and less expensive to buy and maintain. The current trend toward building condos all over Portland worries me, though. In a few years, when I get tired of living downtown, I might buy a house in a quieter neighborhood. When I can afford the investment in money and time, I want the experience of having a yard, garage, driveway, and exterior walls of my very own. Are there going to be any affordable charming old houses left for me?

I think new development in Portland is generally good, even though I'm bugged about relocating a landmark. Increasing the housing supply makes housing more affordable for all. The Clay Rabbit House is a huge, desirable, restored early-20th-century home on a valuable commercial street. Willy Week calls it "Victorian", but I think the straight lines and simple pillars are more suggestive of the post-Victorian Arts and Crafts architectural movement. I'll make a guess that the average Portland homebuyer would fall far short of being able to afford the Clay Rabbit House, even if they were willing to accept the noise and bother of living on a commercial street. The house will be moved to another area of town, although neither of the articles mention if that detail was part of the property purchase deal.

As quoted in the Oregonian, city planner Jay Sugnet sums it up: "Most single-family homes on the city's major streets will be torn down or moved away."

Posted by mara at August 22, 2005 1:44 PM