“Always double-check your tile quantities and purchase more tile than you think you will need. We recommend 10–15 percent for waste and cuts,” says Megan Coleman, cofounder of local modern tile maker Clayhaus. She adds, “if you are going to go busy on your countertop, go simple on your backsplash, and vice versa. Only one can be the star.”


“Add cut lemons or limes to vinegar and let steep a month to make an aromatic natural cleaning concentrate,” says Gina Ross, owner of local housecleaning and organizing service Green Clean by G. “You can get creative and add mint, rosemary, or essential oils. Plus, she notes, the concentrate looks pretty sitting on a counter in a mason jar. Add a ¼ cup to a spray bottle filled with water or dump ¼ cup in your mop water—just don’t use vinegar-basedcleaners on marble, granite, or stone.


Want to keep rodents out of your house? Brandon Clark, owner of Get Smart Rat Solutions, says to quit feeding backyard birds and squirrels. “A bird feeder is like cocaine for rodents,” he says. “If food is available year-round, [rats] will breed year-round—and two rats can produce 1,500 offspring in a year. It’s mind-boggling.” The time to get a pro involved? “As soon as you see something in the house,” he says. That means there’s already a breeding population underneath your house or in your attic.


“A home’s energy system is made up of individual components. Replacing windows without installing insulation or upgrading your heating system might not have the impact you’re seeking,” says Stephen Aiguier, founder of eco-friendly Green Hammer Design Build. “Hire an experienced firm that can help you prioritize energy-efficiency upgrades that will save you money, reduce your carbon footprint, and improve the health of your home.”


“Painting is one of the easiest ways to transform space. But it’s very disruptive, and it always takes longer than you think.” says local painter and artist Michael T. Hensley of MTH Painting. “Don’t have your friends come over and do it for pizza and beer. People try to save money that way, and it [rarely] looks good. Take your time in choosing colors. Cleaning, especially kitchens and bathrooms, where there’s a greasy residue is important before you start painting. Paint the ceiling first, then the trim, then you cut in the walls. It’s easier to cut the wall into the trim than vice versa. Also, use FrogTape on the trim. It’s moisture activated, so it seals itself up when the paint hits it.” (No website, email mthpainting@gmail.com)


“Organization is kind of having a moment, with everything going on with Marie Kondo,” says professional organizer Clementine Hacmac. “One of the things I believe in most is there’s not a single system for every person . Decide what works for [you]. I’m a big fan of organizing things in rainbows—like books. I love rainbowtizing. It always looks really beautiful and clean and super-intentional. And that’s one of the tricks of organizing: when it looks beautiful, you are more likely to keep it up. Getting rid of stuff doesn’t mean you’re losing anything. It means you’re opening the possibility to have only that which truly serves you in your life.”


“Be mindful of your washing machine hoses,” says Craig Anderson, owner and vice president of Craig Anderson Plumbing. “They’re made of rubber. The rubber breaks down. The chlorine in the water, sunlight, heat, all that affects rubber in negative ways. When a washing machine hose fails, you’ve got, as a result, a flooded house. So keep an eye on those hoses. Make sure they are changed out every five to seven years. That could save you a lot of heartache.” 


“Most of the time [people] buy one of this [plant] and three of those and one of that, but really you should be buying 20 of one thing,” says Peter Lynn, garden designer at Pomarius Nursery. “In order to prevent a lot of weeding and spraying or mulching, you overplant, and over time things weed out and you’ll enjoy them.” Lynn also says to let ’em be as much as you can: “The more you [walk] on the beds, the more you trample, the more you compact, the less it grows. You want to limit the amount of time you go in the beds if you can. What you’re trying to achieve is that within a year, you don’t see the ground anymore.” 

View the full article here at Portland Monthly

The quirky home features dinosaurs and a sign proclaiming ‘Yabba-dabba-doo’, but neighbors aren’t amused.

California architecture has captured the world’s imagination with its classic midcentury bungalows and beach houses. But one architectural landmark in the state has gone a distinctively different route, and it’s not to the town’s liking.

The “Flintstones” home in northern California appears to take its architectural cues from the town of Bedrock. The experimental house was built in the 1970s using a technique that involved spraying concrete to create curved walls. The result is a building where Fred and Wilma would feel at home, and it has become a landmark for drivers passing on I-280.

The home is located in the upscale town of Hillsborough, which has a unique architectural history of its own. It’s the site of a Frank Lloyd Wright house where the celebrated real estate developer Joseph Eichler once rented. Inspired by the home, Eichler went on to help popularize the mid-century modern style; his California homes have become icons of the movement.

It has long been a thorn in the eye of local residents, and the decorating taste of Florence Fang, who bought the home in 2017, hasn’t exactly helped the house gain popularity.

Fang is responsible for big metal dinosaurs and Flintstones figurines dotting the property. She also installed a deck, a parking strip and, in a particularly subtle move, an enthusiastic sign proclaiming: “Yabba-dabba-doo.”

While some might argue she is simply honoring the legacy of a beloved cartoon family, the town disagrees. Fang is facing a lawsuit arguing that the home, whose hilltop position makes it hard for passersby to miss, has become a public nuisance. According to the suit, Fang’s improvements were made largely without permits.

The suit says Fang has been asked to halt her work multiple times, with officials calling it “a highly visible eyesore and are out of keeping with community standards”.

Fang paid a $200 fine last year, the local Daily Journal newspaper reported, but has failed to dismantle her dinosaur collection. In a statement seen by the Associated Press, her grandson said: “I think the dinosaurs are beautiful. They make everyone smile and should stay.”

If town officials get their way, the Flintstone house could end up a little less Bedrockian – suffering a similar fate to that of the Simpsons house in Henderson, Nevada, modeled after 742 Evergreen Terrace. Once a colorful replica of Homer’s home, it now it looks like any other suburban building. But as an inquisitive visitor found, the house can’t escape its history: as paint chips away on the garage, a layer of bright orange is visible underneath.

View the full article here at The Guardian

The college town has become the latest Oregon city to embrace the economic development strategy.

This week local leaders in Eugene are meeting to discuss the concept of building an innovation district, and in late spring or summer the plan will start to come together in a more formal way. The discussions build on several years of conversation about adopting the trendy, but loosely defined, economic development strategy.

Innovation districts have cropped up in entrepreneurial cities across the world, and are becoming a hot economic development trend. Portland recently designated an “innovation quadrant.” The public-private partnership advocates for infrastructure improvements like transit lines, and economic incentives like startup funding, to promote business development in the city’s urban core.

Researchers are still defining innovation districts, but their key ingredients include proximity to a major research university, public gathering spaces, tax incentives to promote business growth and lots of free wi-fi. Innovation districts qualify for federal funding. This financing rewards commercial real estate development and entrepreneurial activity in a designated zone.

However, the concept remains nebulous. Buzzwords like “center of gravity” and “innovation capacity” dominate the conversation. No checklist of features exists to help business leaders envision their ideal district.

“That’s one of the challenges,” says Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software, one of Eugene’s large employers. “There’s a lot in what it means, but there’s not a lot of prescription in exactly what to do with it.”

Brookings Institute report identifies three types of innovation districts. In the “anchor plus” model, development clusters around a central institution. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, for example, business growth erupted around the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The “reimagined urban areas model” relies on the transformation of historic waterfronts or industrial areas, such as Seattle’s South Lake Union district.

In the third type, an “urbanized science park,” a mixed-use hub of retail, restaurants and housing, develops in a suburban area.

RAIN Eugene, an organization that assists local startups, has spearheaded much of the innovation district discussion. The group hosted a talk from a Brookings researcher, and blogs about the idea on its website. Interim Director of RAIN Dana Seibert could not be reached for comment.

In Eugene, the University of Oregon could anchor the district’s growth, aided by a wealth of nearby technology startups. The second-largest city in Oregon benefits from easy access through I-5 and a nearby airport.

The advisory board meeting this week will convene representatives from Lane Community College, RAIN, the cities of Eugene and Springfield, and others.

Parsons says that as the district develops, it will be critical to communicate to university graduates that good jobs await them in Eugene, not just the big-name technology cities.

“The biggest hurdle is our biggest asset: location,” Parsons says. “We’re not Silicon Valley and we’re not Seattle.”

That’s just fine, she says. With a well thought-out plan and communications strategy, an innovation district could send a message that Eugene is the place to be.

View the full article here at Oregon Business

When Trenton’s streetcars came to a halt in the 1930s, one literally found a home.

WHEN BRANDON BREZA AND MARC Manfredi, buddies since high school, started a real estate venture together, they didn’t expect to find themselves on an adventure in historic preservation.

In August 2018, they purchased a foreclosed house at 31 Smith Avenue in Hamilton, New Jersey, with the idea that they could transform it into an appealing rental unit. The description on the property listing said that the small home had been made out of a former rail car, but on first glance it looked like an ordinary suburban house, though perhaps a little worse for wear.

“I don’t think we’re gonna find a dead conductor or anything here … maybe there’ll be some old train parts or something,” says Breza, of his thinking at the time.

They began work a few days after purchasing the property, bringing down a couple interior walls. But they got a little hammer-happy. “We watched a lot of HGTV and thought, ‘This is awesome, let’s start knocking down walls,’” Breza recalls. “We started thinking, we’d do it the right way and make it more attractive for renters.”

As they removed a layer of insulation, they found, to their surprise, a hidden set of windows inside a wall. They peeled back drywall and revealed a window shade marked with the year 1912. Behind another wall was a door. Bit by bit, they uncovered piece after piece, until an entire rail car emerged—ensconced smack in the center of the house.

Aside from taking down part of the ceiling, which they didn’t realize was original, they did little damage to the car. Breza and Manfredi began contacting everyone they could think of to find the source of the odd gem, which they thought was from a train, and what could be done with it. At their wit’s end, they decided to post their discovery on Facebook, where news of the discovery went viral.

“There was a guy from Denmark talking about it, producers wanting to make a show about it … it was out of control,” recalls Breza.

The post reached Railway Preservation Newsan online magazine with an active forum. Eric Strohmeyer of the CNJ (Central New Jersey) Rail Corporation and fellow preservationist J.R. May contacted Breza and Manfredi and came to Hamilton for a visit. It didn’t come from a train at all, they explained: It was a trolley.

“They said, “Let’s go to the back corner and find the number of the trolley car,’” says Breza. Sure enough, in the back left corner: “It was almost like National Treasure. You had to shine a light on it and there it was: #288.”

From those three digits, Strohmeyer and May ascertained the car’s history. It had been manufactured in Philadelphia by the J.G. Brill Trolley Company in 1914, and made its way to New Jersey, where it was part of the once-extensive trolley system operated by the Trenton & Mercer County Traction Company,* according to William “Captain Bill” McKelvey, director of Liberty Historic Railway, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about New Jersey transportation history and has taken over the task of restoring #288. The streetcar network had dozens of routes that traversed the city and extended into suburbs—such as Hamilton Township, which neighbors Trenton.

“Trenton was a heavy manufacturing town in those days, and there were literally thousands and thousands of workers that commuted to their jobs everyday from the suburbs,” McKelvey says.

But how does an old trolley end up inside a home?

The Trenton trolley system had screeched to a halt in 1934, and the system’s components were dismantled. The cars, made of wood with steel frames, were sturdy, but, “Ninety-five percent of [them] were simply scrapped,” says McKelvey. “What they typically did was bring them to an empty lot, burn them, and salvage all the metal.” A few escaped this particular fate, having been purchased for use as garden sheds, chicken coops, and even homes.

The plot of land that held the home Breza and Manfredi bought in 2018 had been purchased for a dollar by John Guthrie, a local typesetter, in the early 1900s. After his brother William traveled around the United States and came home broke, Guthrie and two of his siblings pooled their funds to purchase an old trolley to house him so he could get back on his feet. William expanded #288 into a proper house with the trolley at its heart, and it was eventually passed on to Evelyn Breece, who moved in with her husband John Breece, the elder Guthrie’s grandson, and their three children in 1952.“My husband inherited the house and at that time it had an outhouse and a pump in the kitchen,” Breece says. “My husband put the bathroom in before we moved in, and we made two additions.”

The family lived in the house, expanded to 650 square feet, for a decade. Breece and her daughter Jackie Thomas still live in the neighborhood, only two blocks away. “There were parts of [the trolley] that were exposed,” Thomas says. “The ceilings were kind of curved in parts of the house, and we had a closet door that was original to the trolley. It’s disappeared, but it was there when we lived there.” The house then passed through more hands, of Guthrie descendants and strangers, until Breza and Manfredi bought it, started opening up the walls, and eventually demolished the house to free the trolley.

Now the trolley is sitting in a Southampton, New Jersey recycling yard, shrink-wrapped to protect it from the weather as it awaits restoration by Liberty Historic Railway.

Though it’s now out of his hands, Breza wishes the trolley well. “I had an emotional attachment to it, he says. “The hope is to preserve it, restore it, and see it in a museum one day.”









View the full article here at Atlas Obscura

Much of the shooting for the original Star Wars movies took place in Tunisia, and legend has it that one local landmark made a powerful impression on its creator, George Lucas.
The influence of Hotel du Lac in Tunis, shaped like an upside-down pyramid with serrated edges, would later be seen in the fictional Sandcrawler vehicle used by the Jawas of the Tatooine desert planet in the film.
The brutalist hotel designed by Italian architect Raffaele Contigiani features 416 rooms across ten floors of increasing width.
The du Lac enjoyed a glamorous heyday after opening its doors in 1973, with singer James Brown reportedly among its A-list clientele.
But the good times faded. The hotel closed in 2000 and has stood empty ever since.
In 2011, former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali sold the property to the Libyan government-owned investment fund Lafico. Plans to redevelop the site were subsequently announced but never enacted.
The long period of uncertainty may now be drawing to a close.

Imminent demolition?

In February, architect and activist Sami Aloulou of the conservation group Edifices et Memoires (Buildings and memories) announced on Tunisia’s Radio Misk that the hotel was scheduled for imminent demolition.
Aloulou’s statement prompted an outcry on social media from architecture lovers.
petition was swiftly launched to save “one of Tunisia’s premier brutalist structures – important to the country and to the world.
In response, the Municipality of Tunis announced that it had not received or granted a request for permission to demolish the hotel.
Aloulou was only partly reassured, believing that the denial merely represents a stay of execution. He claims to have visited the hotel recently and witnessed an increasing number of workers on the site.
“The danger is still present but not as imminent as we thought,” he says. “The struggle continues.”
Edifices et Memoires aims to safeguard the building’s long-term future by campaigning for greater public awareness of its historical value.
The group also plans to seek protected status from UNESCO – and possibly an intervention from George Lucas.

Twelve scenarios

Lafico did not return several CNN requests for comment on its plans for the building.
But a member of the team hired as consultants to the owners believes a final decision will be taken soon.
Architect Sahby Gorgi was hired by consultancy group BDO Tunisia to produce a range of possible plans for the site. Twelve different options are under consideration, he says. Some of these involve restoration of the existing site, but the “preference” is for “another structure.”
Gorgi says the owners are well aware of the building’s status as an “iconic symbol,” and the strength of public opinion in favor of retaining the hotel in some form.
But he adds that the building has fallen into decay after abandonment, and suffered further damage from a fire in 2011, which would make restoration costly and difficult.
Further studies are ongoing, says Gorgi. He expects a final decision in “months not years.”

Symbolic, but functional

Conservationists argue that the city, country, and region would be losing unique heritage if the building were demolished.
“(The hotel) is one of the rare standing testimonies of the brutalist movement in North Africa,” says Tunisian architect Mohamed Zitouni of the Oxxi studio. “It is maybe the unique example of this tendency in Tunisia.”
“Hotel du Lac was built as an expression of Tunisia’s modernity and independence. In contrast to the surrounding architecture, the hotel makes a rebellious statement of departure from both traditional and colonial architectural forms.”
Zitouni adds that the design featuring more rooms on the upper floors gave the building functional as well as aesthetic value.
Aloulou notes that demolition would fit a broader pattern of erasing urban heritage. The Tunisian government recently introduced a bill that would make it easier to demolish old buildings that could be considered unsafe, which could have far-reaching consequences.
“The authorities have started a campaign aiming to demolish what they consider as old, dangerous, and worthless buildings without even consulting the experts,” says Aloulou.

A second life?

Aloulou does acknowledge the case for modernization, and his group is not arguing the Hotel du Lac should be preserved in its current, deteriorated state.
Instead, conservationists are looking at new possibilities to renovate the site and give it a “second life” with a new function. One idea under consideration is for an ecosystem of small businesses.
“The Tunisian state is investing a lot in the start-up nation,” says Aloulou. “The hotel could definitely welcome a hive of start-ups.”
The coming months are likely to prove decisive as to whether an iconic building with a rich history has a future too.
View the full article here at CNN

A little over a year ago, Dani Rosenthal was at a crossroads. After spending more than 10 years working for homeware and apparel companies, she was looking to leave city-life and spend more time in Lake Arrowhead, California, where her family had decades-long roots. She loved architecture and historic renovations, and wanted to nurture these interests. After talking to friends and family members, she thought maybe becoming a real estate agent could be a smart next step.

However, something gave her pause:

“The image that the media portrays, predominantly of men with dominating and extreme personalities, is enough to scare a woman out of pursuing a career in real estate,” Rosenthal says.

She decided to give it a try anyway. And one year in as a Realtor with Wheeler Steffen Sotheby’s International Realty, Rosenthal is finding, instead of intimidation, the industry is filled with respect and support for the women who work in it.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, as the U.S. residential real estate industry is dominated by women: According to the National Association of Realtors, as of May 2018, 63 percent of all Realtors are female. A 2011 Trulia study found that there are more women real estate professionals in every state than male real estate professionals. In some states, like South Dakota and Nebraska, there are roughly 48 percent more female real estate agents and brokers than there are male. In states like Oklahoma and Mississippi—which Trulia claims is the number one female-dominated real estate industry in the nation—that number jumps up to 64 percent.

But women weren’t always dominant in selling homes. According to NAR’s history of women in Real Estate, when the association first started in 1908, its membership was entirely male, despite 3,000 women working as brokers nationally. Their first female member, Corrine Simpson, a broker from Seattle, Washington, wouldn’t join until 1910.

Women didn’t become brokers in the early 20th century just because they loved selling homes. Like women across history, the earliest women became brokers due to exigencies that required them to earn money for their families, writes Jeffrey M. Hornstein in his book “A Nation of Realtors®: A Cultural History of the Twentieth-Century American Middle Class.” It just so happened that, during this time, new white collar office jobs flooded the market due to advances in technology—jobs that seemed “safer” for women to hold than those on the factory floor. Additionally, prevailing ideas of the time made selling homes a socially-acceptable job for women: “business maternalism,” the idea that business could be benefitted by women’s moral and nurturing flair as well as their knowledge of all things domestic, and “liberal individualism,” the “radical” idea that women were just as capable as men were. Since women owned the home, it made sense that they could sell them (or, in some cases, helped men sell them.)

And though organizations like NAR didn’t explicitly ban women from joining, organizations did require local real estate board membership, and these boards did explicitly ban women. So, just like so many times in history, women decided to create their own professional organizations, like the Portland “Realyettes.”

Unfortunately, The Great Depression halted women’s progress in the industry for a decade. Hornstein writes that about two-thirds of female brokers left the field between 1930 and 1940.

However, in the 1940s, women doubled down that only women had the “established role as guardians of the virtue of the republic through protection of the homes,” thus justifying their claim as home sellers. Women held these positions post-World War II, taking advantage of the influx of new single family homes being built in the suburbs and the corresponding increase in homeownership following the establishment of VA-loans. (Sadly, women real estate agents were also a major lobbying driving force against widespread public housing!)

As women in the workplace gained political clout through the women’s liberation movement, they gained more opportunities in real estate. In 1973, NAR extended membership from exclusively brokers to sales agents, which made many eligible for membership. By 1978, the majority of NAR members were women. By 1980, almost 300,000 women were real estate agents, making up 45 percent of the industry.

So why do modern-day women remain so drawn to residential real estate? Largely the same reasons they did in the 1920s: According to those in the industry, life as a residential real estate agent provides one of the most flexible schedules for families, good earning potential, and a relatively low barrier to entry. It remains a great option for women looking for a career change or part-time second job.

Veronica Figueroa got her real estate license immediately after graduating from college in 2001 to take advantage of Orlando, Florida’s popular timeshare market. But she didn’t use it until 2004, when Figueroa and her husband decided to get divorced. She began to question how to maintain the same quality of life for her children with half of the income. So, alongside her full-time job, she started a part-time job as a residential real estate agent. In her first three months, she made $11,000. At the end of her first year, she made $66,000.

“It was more money than I was making as an employee,” Figueroa says. This amount really made her evaluate if she could do real estate full-time. One of the biggest draws? The flexibility it afforded her as a single mother—she could time her showings around her kids’ schedules. In her second year, she made over $100,000. Just like the women of the early 20th century, she says that the same factors that make her a great mother (her determination as well as leadership and nurturing skills) make her a great real estate agent.

“[Real estate proved that] I could still be successful even though I went through a divorce, and I still wanted to be a great mom and give my kids everything they deserved,” she says.

In the nearly 15 years since, Figueroa has maintained incredible growth in the real estate industry. She launched her own brokerage firm, the Figueroa team, in 2007, became a number one listing agent in 2012, and is now one of only 20 U.S. agents on Zillow’s Advisory Board.

While becoming a real estate agent may become very beneficial a few years down the line, it’s not always the easiest job to start: Hedda Parashos of Palisade Realty in San Diego, California, said she had an especially hard first year. As a stay-at-home mom with two kids, she felt she needed more personal growth outside the home, so she looked into getting her real estate license. Parashos took classes online and got her license within three months, initially believing it would be a relatively easy part-time job.

Still, it took her a full year to close a deal on her first home. “It was really exhausting, it was really hard—I realized that people don’t really pay attention to you until you have enough experience,” Parashos says.

But Parashos remained motivated to make a living and also to spend quality time with her kids.

So to better understand how she could move up more quickly in the industry after such a difficult first year, she visited her local multiple listings service association to take courses, read every email pertaining to real estate, read the newspaper’s business section, and reached out to loan officers and escrow officers to discuss financing for potential clients.

As she gained skills, she began closing transactions. She made her first $100,000 commission. Her confidence grew.

Twelve years later, Parashos is now the head of her agency. She cites her initial naivete as a driving factor that allowed her to get where she is today:

“I was able to become a little bit more creative, and a little bit more daring—I was able to try different avenues of trying to make it happen,” she said. “My mind wasn’t tainted by other people’s opinion or experience; I got to experience it so purely my way.”

Though being a real estate agent offers increased flexibility over other 9-to-5 jobs, it’s still not perfect. Maria Koziakov got her real estate license 10 years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child. She hoped she would be able to raise her family and make a living. However, while she could set some of her own hours, her days were still ultimately at the mercy of her clients.

“A flexible schedule is usually referred to as a benefit, but the down side of it is that you need to work evenings and weekends,” Koziakov says. “It can really be unpredictable. You get a phone call and you must show a house in the next few hours. If a client is in town for only a few days, you can’t reschedule the showing.”

It’s a constant hustle, she says: “Time management is a big issue and there will always be listings that do not sell and deals that fall through.”

Additionally, though women often excel in residential real estate, they’re still largely shut out of commercial real estate. According to a 2015 study from the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, only 23 percent of leasing and sales brokers in the U.S. were women. Additionally, women working in commercial real estate face sexual harassment, wage disparity, and unequal opportunities with male peers.

Though there are occupational hazards that come with working with clients and being alone as women, incidents are relatively rare. One year in, Rosenthal says she has come across the occasional “honey” and “sweetie” (which do make her momentarily cringe), but she hasn’t yet experienced what she believes to be a “true, gender-charged negative experience.”

Though this may just be her experience, Rosenthal thinks it also might be because there are so many women looking out for other women in the industry.

“There is a huge learning curve, but it’s so beneficial to have a good role model and/or mentor in the beginning,” she says.

Figueroa agrees: “It’s a great time to be in real estate; as a woman, it’s more collaborative than ever,” she says, citing the Women’s Council of Realtorsand the Woman Up! conference. “Women are empowering each other more than ever: Find a great mentor, find a great team leader, find a great broker, and listen to them—they’re only going to help you get there quicker.”

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

Portland had one of the highest rates of development of self-storage facilities in the country in 2018.

It is well-known how Amazon has transformed the retail sector as millions of Americans turn to the e-commerce website to buy products at the click of a button. Less known is the broad-reaching effect Amazon is having on the commercial real estate sector.

In Oregon there has been a surge in demand for mini warehouse facilities and self-storage space from business owners who sell or store products sold on the e-commerce site. Amazon charges fees for storing inventory, so many small online retailers buy their own warehouse space or rent self-storage units to fulfill customer orders.

As a small-business lender in the commercial real estate space, Alex Cohen, CEO of LibertySBF, notices growth trends in the sector firsthand. He has seen strong demand for self-storage and warehouse space in Portland, where the population surged 11% between 2010 and 2017.

“A lot of our borrowers are Amazon resellers,” says Cohen. “The big headline is the decline of big-box retail and the ascendency of e-commerce. We feel that on the lending side.”

LibertySBF lends to small businesses that want to own the property in which their businesses are located, a market known as owner-user. In Oregon the value of real estate deals from business owners buying their own self-storage units jumped to $10.9 million in 2018, an almost four-fold increase from 2016, according to data from CoStar Group, a provider of commercial real estate information. The market peaked in 2017, when transactions in the owner-user market grew to $14 million.

Small online retailers are also increasingly renting space at self-storage facilities — a market dominated by large players such as Public Storage and Extra Space Storage. Businesses, especially small online retailers on platforms such as Etsy and eBay, are increasingly using self-storage and mini warehouse facilities to store their wares, according to an IBISWorld report. Commercial users of storage facilities accounted for 18.4% of industry revenue in 2018.

Changing demographics are also boosting demand for storage facilities: More people are moving into cities, millennials and retirees alike, where housing is smaller and denser, and storage space is limited. More people are renting, too, as house prices surge, adding to the demand for self-storage.

Real estate transactions in the residential self-storage market in Oregon totaled $67.7 million in 2018, a 33% increase from 2014, according to CoStar Group. Both Portland and Nashville, Tenn., had the highest rates of self-storage facility development in 2018, according to Yardi Matrix, a real estate market analysis firm.

However, there are signs the self-storage market is softening in Portland, where rental rates declined 6% last year.

Developers of self-storage units also face opposition from residents who live near planned developments. A self-storage facility proposed on the site of a former nursery and garden center on 62nd and Powell Boulevard in Southeast Portland has come under attack from local residents, who complain the development could attract crime and set back development in the neighborhood.

Nevertheless, the storage and warehousing market remains one of the fastest-growing sectors of commercial real estate. And with the growth of e-commerce showing no signs of abating, demand for storage space for customer fulfillment will remain strong.

View the full article here at Oregon Business

Betsy Cross wanted a hot tub. Her husband, Will Cervarich, did not.

“I’m not a big hot tub guy. Like, at all,” says Cervarich. “I was like, ‘Just for the record, I will never use it.’ So we started talking about it, and we were like, ‘Well, what about a sauna?’”

The compromise turned out to be a good decision. A while back, the duo, by day owners of local boutique Betsy & Iya, splurged on a DIY outdoor sauna from Michigan-based Almost Heaven. (Brands like Cedarbrook and SaunaFin make similar products.) The company ships all the necessary pieces to your door, leaving you to assemble the barrel like Ikea furniture. Instant sauna? More or less. Compared to, say, a basement sauna, it’s easier to install and doesn’t take up any space in your house.

“I really do love going outside and having to walk through the [yard] to get to it,” Cervarich says. “I love the contrast of hot and cold in the winter. I’m excited for that. When I’m done, I come in [the house] and take a full cold shower.”

And what if friends and neighbors want to join in? (Cross and Cervarich’s model can fit four at a time.)

“I like to be naked,” says Cervarich. “There’s some people that I would be comfortable with naked in there.”

Sound invigorating? Here’s how to get started on your own.

Build the barrel. Unless you want it to roll away (new idea: mobile sauna!) the sauna will need a hard, level surface. Cervarich built a brick platform. Installation of the sauna itself is not complex but is somewhat labor intensive. (“Their brochure is like, ’You and a friend can set it up in one to two hours,” says Cervarich. “It was more like four to six.”) The two end caps of the barrel arrive assembled and sit upright opposite from each other. Build the horizontal slats around them until you complete the cylinder. Two metal bands wrap around the barrel and are tightened to keep the shape. Add the heater (powered, in this case, by a cable the couple had an electrician run from the house) and benches inside, and voilà!

Add a roof. The wood of the sauna is not, er, static. It expands and contracts with the the seasons and as it gets wet or dries out. When it rains during the warmer months, Cervarich says the wood can shrink to the point where you get drips inside the sauna. He recommends building a roof over it to avoid this problem, and also help protect it from the elements.

Maintain it ... or not. Cervarich says beyond regularly wiping down and vacuuming the inside—the walk through the yard brings in some dirt and dead bugs—there isn’t too much maintenance involved. However, if you’re concerned about keeping the long-term appearance fresh, sealing the exterior wood and regularly oiling it, as you would a cutting board, wouldn’t be a bad idea.

View the full article here at Portland Monthly

See what Portland’s Design Week has in store this year:

Sorry, but your geeky cousin who moved to Portland a year ago is not the guide you should rely on to explain the complexities and humorous history of this city.

Instead, take a walking tour with John Doyle, who will colorfully describe the bridges, cemeteries and other landmarks to crowds gathered by Design Week Portland, April 6-13.

Tickets are $30. Email Doyle (johndoylerodmore@gmail.com) for student, senior, group and multiple ticket purchase discounts.

Why does Doyle conduct these tours? “I love architectural history and to share what I learn,” he says.

The former gallery lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York volunteers in Portland with the Architectural Heritage Center.

He frequents the Oregon Historical Society’s research rooms to dig deeper into Portland’s past, but he also relies on first-hand stories from people who have lived here.

“I love seeing the look on people’s faces when I can tell they are fully engaged and having a great time” on the tour, he says, adding with a smile: “That definitely goes to the ham side of me.”

Here are the tours Doyle is conducting during Design Week Portland:

Hear about the historical forces that determined the architectural form and placement of the city’s bridges during Walking Tour: Portland Bridges from 10 a.m.-noon on Sunday, April 7, and from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Friday, April 12 ($30). Think about how these pathways over the Willamette River have shaped Portland’s growth and continue to impact the urban environment.

South Portland was home to a thriving immigrant community until buildings in Jewish, Italian and other communities were demolished in the 1960s as part of the Portland Center urban renewal project. Visualize what was lost during Walking Tour: South Portland: Design, Development, Displacement from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. onSunday, April 7 ($30). This tour includes stops at the connected outdoor spaces that comprise Portland Open Sequence designed by Lawrence Halprin & Associates.

In the middle of the 20th century, Portland leapt from architectural backwater to the forefront of international design. How did this happen? Find out during Walking Tour: Mid-Century Modern and Minimalism in Portlandfrom 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, April 12 ($30).

Portland was in the mainstream of American design until architects Pietro Belluschi, John Yeon and the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill vaulted the city onto the world stage. This guided tour will survey this important and under appreciated aspect of the city.

View the full article here at Oregon Live