Historic Home Demolition Make Way For New Homes In Portland

by | Sep 29, 2014 | Market Trends


There has been a rising debate among homeowners that live in the popular inner neighborhoods of Portland.  Many residents who love the charm and the history of the neighborhoods take objection to the rising rate of Portland new homes being built.  According to city records there were 273 demolition permits taken last year alone.  Advocates like Restore Oregon fear that if the trend continues then the history of the inner neighborhoods are in jeopardy.


Cause For Debate And Activism

In recent months there have been several stories where neighbors have rallied together to save landmark homes within their neighborhoods.  Even going as far as pooling resources to buy homes back from developers.  Even when the attempts to block efforts at the government level fail, there has been success in the amount of publicity and awareness raised by petition efforts.  But what is at the heart of the concern? Not always is there an architecturally significant home behind that cause.

Loss Of Neighborhood Character

As a realtor I enjoy the diversity of differing architectural styles and neighborhood popularity.  I believe that this diversity is what builds the neighborhood character.  What is funny to me is that as you walk down the street of a suburban new home development most die hard Portlander’s would describe the scene as “lacking character.”  However when compared to an older neighborhood where every home on the block is a 1920-1940 bungalow the same Portlander would rave about the character.  But isn’t it diversity that build’s character not just age?

Environmental Impacts

There are some large concerns over the amount of waste going into the landfills from the demolition of historic homes.  And rightfully so.  Restore Oregon did an awesome article about The Impact of Oregon’s Increasing Demolition Trend.  This article describes the impact as being 50 years to recover the climate change impacts related to a homes demolition.  I don’t know exactly how they landed at that number, but needless to say the impact is staggering.  My biggest questions are at what point does the impact of the new energy efficient home balance out the losses?  And how do you put a price on the health impact that a new home has on its owners?  For instance all that we know now about radon, lead paint, asbestos and mold.  The All Things Real Estate Newspaper shared a touching story about this topic.

Proper Notice For Demolition

Apparently there have been issues with buildings being demoed with out notice to the neighbors.  Having done multiple transactions with several reputable builder’s, I know that they take the demolition very seriously and make efforts to speak in person with the neighbors about the project.  However on the flip side if neighbors aren’t being notified I can understand the frustration.  Especially when there are health concerns with how the demolition is conducted.  The Oregonian wrote a piece that highlighted the demands of frustrated neighbors.

Sub-par Replacement Housing

The world tends to operate on a 80/20 rule an infill building is no different.  The vast majority of the demolition projects are being done by a handful of builders.  These builder’s build high quality homes that not only take on the vintage charm of the neighborhoods but offer a home that is more energy efficient and usually built with sustainable practices.  Not to mention that these homes are built with amenities that fit the modern day buyer, like closet space, open floor plans, en-suites, storage and garage space. As for the few homeowners that get stuck next to a low end builder that doesn’t have a clue what the consumer wants, I feel bad for you and hopefully they go away.


Are The Inner Portland Neighborhoods At Risk?

In a recent article Restore Oregon’s Executive Director Peggy Moretti was quoted as saying. “We need to be careful that in the name of density, we aren’t sacrificing quality, character, and our unique sense of place. Without thoughtful urban planning and community involvement, some of Oregon’s most livable neighborhoods could be lost in the next ten years.”  I totally agree with Peggy, that our city leaders need to be better planners, however I disagree that the demolition of single buildings sporadically across the city will have a significant enough impact to lose neighborhoods in the next 10 years.Let’s think about this logically for a second.  There were 273 demolitions in 2013 in a city that has roughly 235,000 households.  That means there was an impact of less than one tenth of 1%.  In my humble estimations it would take hundreds of years to turn a city over and loose neighborhoods.  Especially when the majority of builder’s are building new homes in Portland with features that fit the neighborhood charm.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Builder’s That Are Doing It Right



At the end of the day, there are always going to be debates on such topics.  It’s what makes the world interesting.  And no one viewpoint is ever going to win.  I find it really un-Portland like to be narrow minded and not look at the other side of the conversation.  For me I feel there is valid points to both sides.  So for now I’ll continue to appreciate the diversity of our amazing city and look at opportunities for improvement.

For listings of New Homes In Portland for sale go to the Portland Home Search page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]