Named by the famous Thomas Augustine, who is synonymous with Augustine Gallery, this district was compared to a most precious find waiting to be unearthed from beneath the rubble of warehouses and abandoned industrial sites. Prior to his vision, the district was simply referred to as the Northwest Triangle. The Pearl District is bordered on the east by NW Broadway Avenue, on the south by West Burnside Street, on the west by the I-405, and on the north by the Williamette River. At this point in time the Pearl district is considered the most up and coming real estate market located right at the northern edge of the coveted downtown area. The attraction of being able to walk to work and frequent one of many eateries has lent a new charm to this district which in turn has many new residents flocking there.
The Pearl District used to be your typical downtown neighborhood – run down, devoid of charm and character, and more an area of flight than a move-in ready district. Yet over time the industrial feel is leaving the area and in its stead it is revealing some highly desirable housing and shopping. Developers have taken to renovating the district a few blocks at a time, following the old historical schemes and preserving the historic look and feel of structures that are still in good repair. Like many areas of downtown, the Pearl District is being rediscovered by those who cherish lofts, row houses, condos, and the arts and crafts community. As a matter of fact, small businesses have been at the forefront of the influx into this newly restored neighborhood, bringing with them jobs, ambience, and also the drive to see the whole area transformed.
One part of the Pearl District is referred to as Brewery Blocks, a five block site that used to house an actual brewery. A developer bought up the real estate and is now converting the buildings and the area into residential as well as office spaces. The goal for the developer is to not only incorporate the historic feel, but to also find environmentally friendly ways of construction that will result in energy conservation. This goal was evident when construction began, since about 96 percent of construction debris was diverted from actually going into a landfill. Not to be outdone, Lovejoy Blocks will also contain retail and apartment buildings which are several floors tall. A parking structure will provide the much needed areas for shoppers to park their vehicles.
Since the city of Portland is going to such great lengths to provide not only attractive buildings and areas of commerce to current and prospective residents, but has furthermore shown its desire to do so in an environmentally friendly fashion, the Sierra Club has looked to Portland and specifically the Pearl District for its 2005 nominee for the honor of being on the United States’ best new developments.
In the past condos provided a love-hate relationship for condo dwellers. For many this meant giving up a beloved family dog, or sneaking one in, hoping that nobody would be any wiser. Many condo residents turn a blind eye to the condo dweller that brings in a dog, and a whistle blower is almost always considered a pariah. Fortunately, there is now a new way of openly bringing in your four legged pal: the good citizen certification that may be attained by properly trained dogs. Take a look at the specific properties that permit such pets online.
Another wonderful quality that the Pearl District has is its commitment to the community at large. The Zimmerman Community Center was created with a bequest from local schoolteacher Isobel Faith Zimmerman who wanted to strengthen the spiritual roots and civil live of those living in the River District. The goal is to allow residents of different areas to come together.
Another way of bringing the community together are the local parks such as Jamison Square Park, the relatively new Tanner Springs Park and two more parks which are planned within the vicinity. A number of websites are enabling residents and also visitors to stay in touch and see the progress that the development of the Pearl District is making. One is the “Shop the Pearl” site which is a business and also community directory displaying information and listings on local businesses, events and attractions, while the other one is the “Pearl District Photo Tour” which allows visitors and future residents to take an active photo tour of this changing neighborhood.
Like many of the other districts, the Pearl District Neighborhood Association – which was founded in 1991 – has a website and blog to help residents connect and speak out. You know you are in the Pearl District if the streets are named “NW” and if it only takes you about four minutes to drive to downtown. Since there is so much construction going on, there are not that many mature trees lining the streets, but instead you will see carefully manicured street scenes. While the streets offer parking on both sides, the sidewalks are wide and inviting for pedestrians.
A 2005 livability study 87.5 percent of residents considered the neighborhood to be good or very good. The exact results are available for your review online. Quite possibly one of the major selling points of this area is the fact that you are able to reach the middle of downtown by foot within minutes. With the help of the Portland Streetcar line you will be able to travel to the Northwest District, downtown and also the South Waterfront area.
The population is made up of about 1,113 on 300 acres, which translates to roughly three persons per acre. There are 756 households of which 19 percent are homeowners, 48 percent renters, and the rest undeclared. 17.1 percent of the population is non-Caucasian. The crime rate showed that in 2005 there were 23 violent crimes, 12 burglaries of residential properties and 44 auto thefts. Per 1,000 people there are estimates of about 492 crimes.
With two supermarkets, one hardware store, and 10 coffee shops, you just know that this is a livable area, and many residents frequent the smaller specialty shops for bread and meat. There are the Pearl Bakery and Holden’s Deli, a variety of small art galleries perfect for a quick stop, and of course Powell’s City of Books which is considered to be the largest independent bookstore in the United States with more than a city block of new as well as pre-owned books.
When you are ready to eat out, you will find that a wide variety of ethnic food choices are yours for the asking in the Pearl District. Those who are looking for good old American comfort food will also be certain to find what they are looking for in a number of taverns. Some of the favorites of the residents are the Andina, Bluehour, Caffe Allora, Daily Cafe, Fenouil, Le Bouchon, Olea, Park Kitchen, and Sungari Pearl which all feature their unique take on an assortment of cuisines. When you are done enjoying a healthy and plentiful lunch, you will want to visit the Multnomah Country Central Library which is accessible via the streetcar.
While you will not see that many SUVs, you will see a few luxury vehicles and a number of compact passenger cars. Many eschew car ownership because it is so hard to find parking in the area. Parents send their children to Chapman Elementary School, West Sylvan Middle School and Lincoln High School. Report cards on these institutions of learning may be found on the Internet.
Those ready to move to the Pearl District will find that condominiums and town homes rule the roost while the term loft is loosely interchangeably for condo, with the exception that the former is usually located within a converted warehouse and offers wide open spaces. Since so many simply love the idea of living in a loft, several architects have begun to design buildings that feature loft style condos; if you are looking for single family homes, you will not find any in the Pearl District.
Prices vary and the median price for homes in the year 2005 was about $330,000 while the average price for a home sold in the same year came to about $389,471. The one year price growth in the Pearl district is nine percent while the five year price growth is a staggering 47 percent. Average prices of metro areas ranged from 282,000 at 15 percent appreciation to a median price of $237,500 which is a 16.1 percent appreciation. In 2005 condo prices increased by 27.2 percent, showing the average sales price to be $233,800 as opposed to $183,800 in 2004 – quite a nice increase in appreciation of both the real estate and the neighborhood!