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

The best places to catch the West’s stunning blooms this spring

This winter may have been drier than last year’s, when record-breaking snow and rainfall brought wildflower superblooms to national parks and fields across the West, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to spot gorgeous blossoms this spring. As temperatures continue to rise, wildflower season is in full swing. Here are some prime spots to catch the blooms.

Washington

Set along the Puget Sound near Bellingham, Anacortes Community Forest Lands holds old-growth forests filled with native berry shrubs that bloom from February to August. Among these, Indian plum, red flowering currant, salmonberry, and red huckleberry are ones to watch for. Later in the spring and into summer, orange trumpet honeysuckle hangs from the trees overhead, and wild Lily of the Valley and coral root orchids blossom underfoot. The real treat is a trek through bald meadows on Fidalgo Island’s Sugarloaf Mountain, where hiking trails give views of spring gold, blue-eyed Marys, fawn lilies, Western buttercup, and red Indian paintbrush. Take a guided hike through the 2,700 protected acres, led by a local steward of nonprofit The Friends of the Forest.

Oregon

Tom McCall Preserve, 231 acres of grassland along the Columbia River Gorge, is home to 300 species of plants, and grants you stunning views of Mount Hood and the Columbia River. Every spring, starting in late February, it’s also home to one of the most incredible wildflower displays in the state. Keep an eye out for grass widows, prairie stars, shooting stars, lupine, and Indian paintbrush. The grasslands are also home to four plant species unique to the River Gorge—Thompson’s broadleaf lupine, Columbia desert parsley, Thompson’s waterleaf, and Hood River milkvetch. Catch the blooms along the Rowena Plateau, near the edge of the River gorge, along a 3.6-mile round-trip hike.

California

California’s golden coast has long been famed for its poppy-filled plains. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, a state-protected reserve of Mojave Desert grassland in northern Los Angeles County, offers 8 miles of hiking trails through rolling hills of golden poppies,  lupine, and coreopsi, from mid-February to mid-May. Though National Weather Service and Park Service officials aren’t confident that rainfall will increase significantly enough in the coming month to warrant another superbloom, the reserve is known for consistent poppy displays each year.

Further north, Death Valley’s famous flower displays begin earlier in the spring at lower elevations, where desert gold, notch-leaf Phacelia, golden evening primrose, and gravel ghost dot foothills until mid-April. As temperatures continue to rise, upper desert slopes and canyons welcome desert dandelion, Mojave aster, indigo bush, and desert paintbrush.

Colorado

Colorado’s sweeping plains and mountainsides are prime for wildflower viewing, especially at the popular Roxborough State Park, 3,245 acres of wild land just southwest of Denver. Naturalist Ann Sarg suggests visiting the park to catch blooms in May, when natives like Nelson’s larkspur, nuttall violet, sand lilies, and mariposa lily bloom along paths like the Willow Creek trail. She also says some natives, like the spring beauty, have already begun to bloom, and that late-blooming varietals like porter aster and Liatris pop up later towards summer. Fellow naturalist Susan Dunn suggests arriving earlier in the morning for flower hikes in order to take advantage of cooler temperatures, and also recommends that visitors hop on the RoxRide, a five-passenger cart driven by a naturalist who can point out the blooms along the way during spring weekends.

 

Arizona

You might not expect wildflowers to bloom in the deserts of Arizona, but the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix showcases dry-weather flowers that can be found across the state. Prime viewing time in the gardens starts in early March, when they fill with desert wildflowers like firecracker penstemon, blackfoot daisy, and Mexican gold poppies, along with blossoming cact, which bloom along the popular Harriet K. Maxwell wildflower trail.

Just an hour outside of Phoenix, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a 323-acre state park committed to the study of drought-toleran, desert-happy plants from all over the world. Come mid-March, spring flowers like desert marigolds, brittle brush, and perry penstemon fill the park’s several gardens with color, and native milkweed attracts monarch butterflies. After April, the park’s collection of cacti, which include ocotillo, yucca, hedgehog, saguaro, and aloes, share their regal blooms.

View the full article here at Sunset

Celebrate International Women’s Day with the work of 13 inspiring designers whose contributions to architecture, interior design, industrial design, and beyond are changing the game.

March may be Women’s History Month in the United States, but the work of women in all fields of design surrounds us every day of the year. From textile design to landscape architecture, ceramics to interior design, we’ve highlighted the work of 13 diverse women in the U.S. and asked them to provide insight into what motivates their work, how they established their design studios, and their role as females in the design world. Read on to learn about how they approach their projects, maintain a work/life balance, seek out and become mentors, and more.

Marie Burgos of Marie Burgos Design

Raised in Paris to a family of Caribbean origin from the island of Martinque, Marie Burgos established her interior design offices and furniture lines, Marie Burgos Design, in Los Angeles and New York. Drawing inspiration from the great art, architecture, and interiors that she was exposed to from an early age—as well as the native foods, family life, traditions, and beaches of Martinque—Burgos has created furniture and lighting collections jointly with her husband.

Burgos sees her role as a designer as someone who creates spaces that are nurturing and personal, and her role as an employer to showcase the business and create a productive work environment that fosters a sense of wellbeing for each employee. A strong believer in balance and harmony in design as well as her personal life, Burgos says that she has become a “seasoned, productive multi-tasker” as a designer, wife, and mother of two young children.

The unconditional love, perspective, and balance that she has learned and achieved, along with new levels of patience and prioritizing, brings her “a high degree of positive energy that I am able to use in my working relationships as well as my family life.” Burgos also seeks to be a role model for her daughter and for her staff, hiring and encouraging other women.

 

 

 

Casey Keasler of Casework

Founded in 2015 and based in Portland, Oregon, Casework is a design studio started by interior designer Casey Keasler focused on interiors and how they are experienced. As the founder and creative director of the firm, Keasler seeks to promote creativity, collaboration, and curiosity; her projects range from residential to commercial designs. Keasler calls her clients her biggest source of inspiration, learning what makes them tick and what their vision is so that she can translate that into a personal, thoughtfully designed environment.

Before starting her own firm, she was told by a mentor that she didn’t need to know everything, but had to learn how to ask the right questions to achieve the results she wanted. To that end, she spent a lot of time listening, learning, and growing until she was ready to start her own business. Now that she has successfully done so, she is motivated to carve out a “creative, supportive space for women in this world.”

 

 

 

Ellen Van Dusen of Dusen Dusen

Established in 2010, Ellen Van Dusen’s textile and clothing company, Dusen Dusen, is focused on creating bold, colorful prints. Van Dusen currently is based in Brooklyn, and expanded her collection in 2015 with Dusen Dusen Home, a textile and home goods line that includes bedding, throws, pillows, and towels.

Van Dusen’s work, and in particular her clothing, is known for versatile, wearable silhouettes made with her eye-catching prints. She is regularly inspired by fine art, commercial and naïve design, and the brain’s reaction to color and contrast. Currently, she is inspired by oversized versions of ordinary objects, Madeline Arakawa and Madeline Gins, tropical birds, and board games.

 

 

 

 

 

Carly Nance & Rachel Bentley of The Citizenry

Founded in 2014, Carly Nance and Rachel Bentley started The Citizenry as a socially conscious home decor brand that partners with master artisans around the world to create modern, globally inspired designs. From leather butterfly chairs handcrafted in Argentina to blankets woven in the mountains of Peru, The Citizenry brings the world’s best craftsmanship directly to consumers online.

With new collections (and artisan partners) added every year, the two work with their product design director, Haley Seidel, and are inspired by “different cultures, crafts, and raw materials; each one is a unique input to our design process.” In a female-run company, Carly says that “empathy and insight run deep in our culture,” and Rachel considers the ability to support talented craftswomen around the world as one of the most rewarding aspects of her role in bridging across cultures.

 

 

 

View the full article here at Dwell

Strong demand for housing last year kept home prices surging, and that means more homeowners are now sitting on more cash in the form of home equity.

Collectively, homeowners with mortgages saw their equity increase by just over 8 percent in 2018, according to CoreLogic. That is from a combination of home value gains and borrowers paying down their mortgages. It adds up to roughly $678 billion in additional wealth over the last year — or about $9,700 per homeowner.

Of course all real estate is local, and so were the gains. Homeowners in Western states saw the biggest annual increases in home equity, with Nevada homeowners now about $29,000 richer. Idaho homeowners gained close to $27,000 and Californians just short of $20,000. Washington state, New York and Florida homes also saw big equity gains. There were, however, some losses. Homeowners in North Dakota, Louisiana and Connecticut saw their equity drop.

Rising equity usually fuels the remodeling market, as people tap that extra cash to do home remodels or upgrades. Home remodeling was very strong last year, not just because of rising equity, but because homebuilders are putting up fewer homes, meaning more people are staying in older homes longer and repairing or upgrading.

“The increase in home equity over the past several years provides homeowners with the means to finance home remodels and repairs,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “With rates still ultra-low by historical standards, home-equity loans provide a low-cost method to finance home-improvement spending. These expenditures are expected to rise 5 percent in 2019.”

Increasing equity also helped more homeowners rise above water on their mortgages. The number of underwater properties fell 14 percent last year, as 351,000 borrowers no longer owe more on their loans than their homes are worth. There are still 2.2 million homes in a negative equity position.

“Our forecast for the CoreLogic Home Price Index predicts there will be a a 4.5 percent increase in our national index from December 2018 to the end of 2019,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “If all homes experience this gain, this would lift about 350,000 homeowners from being underwater and restore positive equity.”

Negative equity peaked at 26 percent of mortgaged residential properties in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to CoreLogic. Just 4.2 percent of homes are currently still underwater.

View the full article here at CNBC