By Gabe Frayne

Two tenants from the Chestnut Court apartments on the 5200 block of SE Stark, directly across from the Portland Nursery, presented at the North Tabor Neighborhood Association (NTNA) Meeting on December 20. Jeanne Favini and Amanda Fisher asked for the board’s support for the Chestnut Court Tenants Union, formed on November 1 in response to frequent and aggressive rent increases. According to the two tenants. Favini and Fisher claim that when the original owner, Lewis Inkster, built the apartments back in 1971, “these were not designed to be luxury apartments…rents were kept affordable.”

After Inkster passed ownership of the apartments to his three children in 2011, things began to change, Favini says, and tenants will be hit with their fourth rent increase in two years on March 1.  Favini says her rent will increase to $1,005, up from $760 in 2014, though this new figure is still below the neighborhood average [see below].

Nonetheless, two tenants have already moved and two others are planning to give notice in response to the rapidly rising rents, according to Favini. The Tenants Union claims that these increases have not been accompanied by improved maintenance, and Favini says she even overheard one of the owners, Laura Middlestadt of Lake Oswego, saying that she was looking for “a better class of tenant.”

Middlestadt did not return multiple calls requesting a response.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in North Tabor is now $1,255, according to the website Rent Jungle. The site shows that between November 2011 and November 2016 rents for two-bedroom apartments in Portland as a whole have increased from $1,076 to $1,780, or about a 40 percent increase, though the site does not offer longitudinal data about rent increases in North Tabor specifically.

North Tabor ranks 31st among 45 neighborhoods in rent prices, according to Rent Jungle’s data.

High density development continues to upsize North Tabor. The Portland Bureau of Development is currently considering a proposal by Northwest Classic Homes of Vancouver, WA to build eight attached townhouses on what is presently a weed-covered slope at the southwest corner of NE 53rd and Couch, directly behind the Carolyn Court apartments.

Each unit would have a built-in garage and roughly 1900 square feet of interior space. One issue that has rankled tenants in the apartments, as well as residents of NE Couch, is the proposed 45 ft. height. This unusual height is allowed under current R1 zoning but would severely downgrade the privacy of residents on all sides. The owners say they expect to price the units at 500 to 600 thousand dollars.

The NTNA is looking for residents to serve on its by-laws committee. If interested, contact board@northtabor.org.