By Jack Rubinger
Ever wonder who is living in the new apartment buildings in your neighborhood? As Portland continues to grow, the number of more citified apartment buildings has grown, too. Who’s moving into these places and why is being examined in a series of articles here in The Southeast Examiner. First up is the Goat Blocks.
Vacant for over a decade, the site had become a destination for neighbors visiting the now infamous resident maintenance crew – a herd of goats who kept the weeds in check year round. The goats eventually found a new home, but the name and the neighboring communities’ enthusiasm for activating this site as a gathering spot stuck.
On a rainy morning in January, this writer visited the Goat Blocks, located across the street from Market of Choice on SE Belmont. The project is massive. Developed on what industry folks call a Super Block, this community is a micro neighborhood in itself.
Goat Blocks parking is convenient. There’s a Japanese style rotating system that fits nine cars in the space of three; a slick solution to what is one of Portland’s hottest controversies: parking, or lack thereof.
Emily Logue, Community Curator, from Killian Pacific (the ownership group), provided connections to several residents.
Jennie Dorsey is a trained burlesque dancer who drives vintage scooters, loves the cinema, has a cat named Frankenstein and manages the Schilling Cider house, located on SE 10th.
Schilling is the largest cider house in the world with more than 50 different ciders from all over the world.
“We were searching for locations for Schilling, that are centrally located and the Goat Blocks fit the bill,” said Dorsey. “I jumped at the chance to live and work in a brand new bar and a brand new apartment.”
She lives next door to the Cider House in a studio apartment in the 1010 building on the 11th floor.
Schilling has been open seven months and Dorsey is often on call, so being nearby was crucial — truly a live/work situation. She has lived in the building less than a year.
With a staff of thirteen, the cider house is pretty busy with trivia nights, movie nights, happy hours and burlesque bingo regularly programmed within the space.
Dorsey previously lived in the Montavilla neighborhood. Originally from Chicago, she moved to Portland several years ago from Brighton, England and has a background in both the coffee and cider industries.
Jon Stone and his wife Kelly have lived in the Goat Blocks building since June of last year. They love the college dorm-like aspect of the scene.
“Many of us on the floor hang out together, go out to the arcade, bowl or simply watch football together in the community lounge,” said Stone.
The couple moved from North Carolina last year for her school and wanted to live the city life; walking and biking to activities instead of driving. They do that easily from the Goat Blocks. Living above the Market of Choice makes grocery shopping convenient.
“Portland is amazing. The weather isn’t nearly as dreary as we were made to believe, and the food lives up to its reputation,” said Stone. “We really love being able to hike minutes outside of the city.
“On the other hand, we were shocked by the homelessness, he added. “Nothing could have adequately prepared me for walking down the street and witnessing drugs and trash and panhandling or the full-on camping on the sidewalk. My wife is uncomfortable walking alone at night once away from the busy areas.”
A project and product manager for a small(ish) tech company, Stone helps other businesses isolate gaps in their processes and creatively solves those problems to create efficiency.
He began compiling a list of all the quirky, fun, free, weird, and beautiful things to do in and around Portland. He and Kelly recently went hunting for the spaceship on Sauvie Island, for example.
“From an outsiders perspective, there is so much construction going on. Even having visited Seattle recently, it still seems like cranes on every corner,” said Stone.
“I expect the trend of people moving into the city to continue, and the cyclical effect of supply and demand to create a denser and denser city center.”
“Portland is more and more often on the radar of companies in the tech and emerging industries sectors” he added, “which makes me think more and more businesses will look at Portland as a legitimate area to open up shop.”
Finally, there’s Sumita Mukund who has lived in the Goat Blocks for six months. A software developer, she’s a Massachusetts native who goes for stand-up comedy, reading, going to concerts and trying new bars and restaurants. Since moving here, she’s become an avid hiker.
There is still a stream of young people who are attracted to Portland and these new high rise settlements because of the area’s abundant action, adventure and opportunities. Portland’s high rise apartments offer proximity to nature, restaurants, culture and shopping.
What happens when couples and singles expand into families? Can developers design dwellings for families that are affordable or will Portland eventually become another big city that only makes sense for very wealthy families?
There are more answers to these and other questions as this series about the new Portland migration continues.