January 25, 2006

the power is out in 97209

The entire Pearl District lost power this morning at around 9am. I was working from home at the time, so I salvaged my favorite items from the fridge and headed to the office. PGE doesn't have any alerts up on their web page, but the last I heard from the security guy at my condo complex, "It may be out for a while".

Posted by mara at 10:10 AM | TrackBack

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 1:44 PM

May 31, 2005

good neighbors despite lack of fences

I spent the weekend shopping, eating out, meeting neighbors, and enjoying a rare patch of beautiful weather. My parents spent theirs working on a fence (with the help of their next door neighbor).

So far, I am very pleased with the condo lifestyle. Saturday evening, I was bumming around the house, doing a little cleaning and recreational reading. It was a warm day, my windows were all open, and a large group of people was having a noisy party in the barbeque area below my window. At around 10:45, I finally went down to say hi to the people who were still there, and they immediately welcomed me into the exciting condo social world. Suffice it to say I drank a little too much, stayed up a little too late, and was definitely feeling it the next morning. It was great to meet the neighbors, though, and learn that there are other young homeowners about.

Housing costs being what they are on the left coast, my neighbors figure I'm probably one of the last young people to be able to buy a condo here. The price difference between the new river-view condos in the first area (built 2 years ago) and the new river-view condos being finished now is over $100,000. I've barely had time to hang patio shades, and my unit has already appreciated beyond my ability to buy it (if I had waited until now, instead of buying 3 months ago).

Speaking of patio shades, here they are, courtesy of World Market. The lengths and sizes of the rice paper blinds are slightly different from each other, but at $75 total to cover this expanse of window, I'm very pleased with the outcome. Call it the "eclectic" look.

Posted by mara at 3:04 PM

May 20, 2005

spinning our wheels and sitting perfectly still

Happy National Bike To Work Day! I rode my bike approximately 1/2 mile before being utterly soaked by the rain and deciding to go back home and take the car to work today. Weather: 5 Me: 0.

Other than that, still loving my new neighborhood. Today I just discovered that OregonLive has an Old Town Blog, which points out a lot of issues affecting the development and community of Old Town. The author seems to be shining the hot light of the press upon the PDC in particular. Mr. Norton attends neighborhood association meetings and is keenly aware of issues surrounding urban renewal, ordinances, and the homeless situation in Old Town. I'll definitely be reading often. Old Town has an entirely different flavor than the Pearl Blog just a few blocks west.

Since moving to Old Town, I've been surprised at becoming a lot more comfortable with the homeless population. Growing up in the suburbs, I never had to see or deal with this kind of thing -- it was one of those social problems supposedly solved by suburban neighborhoods. My notion all while growing up was that homeless people were desperate, dangerous winos and drug addicts who would rob or attack anyone who appeared vulnerable. While crime in the downtown area is still considerable, I feel that the homeless population doesn't pose a lot of danger. While walking home from the MAX station, alone, on a Sunday evening, I passed under the bridge where a group of the under-housed spend the night. I was carrying a lot of stuff and must have appeared hesitant, but as I tiptoed under the bridge, one reclining fellow gave me a bright smile and exclaimed "You have a nice night, now!"

I love downtown.

Posted by mara at 12:57 PM

May 2, 2005

Inherited Stompy Man

Busy last few weeks, getting everything cleaned and organized in my new place. I think I'm finally ready to bite into the good stuff: ordering my very own window coverings! If only I could decide exactly what I want...

So far, I really enjoy the ambient noise in my new city home. There is a train station nearby, so I occasionally fall asleep to the sound of trains quietly approaching from across the river. There is sometimes a hum from the grain elevator on the other side of the river, or a passing boat. I've found that despite a higher noise level than the suburbs, I usually sleep better than I did in my old apartment.

The only exception is this upstairs neighbor I seem to have inherited. The condo above me is a townhouse unit, with two levels. It has become evidently clear that the above unit has hardwood floors which are not floating. My upstairs neighbor (whom we will call Stompy Man) goes up and down the stairs several times a day, particularly in the morning and at night. I expect a certain amount of noise, so this only annoys me when it happens after I go to sleep or before I wake up. This is turning out to be just about every day.

As a passive-aggressive solution, I am considering starting a monthly Casual Kazoo Band & Beer Society get-together at my place. Stay tuned.

Posted by mara at 1:25 PM