Affordable housing coming to Kenton

The commercial building that was most recently a garage has been removed, as has the single family house that used to sit next to it. Next up? A 24-unit Habitat for Humanity structure.

And affordable housing is being built on an empty lot at the edge of downtown Kenton.

I’m excited to have both of these developments happening near me.* If there’s one thing this city needs, it’s more affordable housing. As someone who is only a homeowner because of Proud Ground, a housing program for first-time home buyers, I know how much of a difference affordable and stable housing can make in a person’s life.

*Which is not to say I don’t have worries that our easy-to-find street parking will disappear once that 24-unit Habitat for Humanity development is done and occupied. I would LOVE if the City Council would take some steps to establish an on-street parking permit system in Portland neighborhoods.

One More Walk

After the deluge of yesterday afternoon, look what I woke up to:

There was also a “wintry mix” forecast, which I experienced when I took one more walk before checking out of my room. Wintry mix! In May!

I had a bit of time to kill before my flight so I took one last walk of Minnesota neighborhoods.

I found this sculpture when getting to the start of the walk. Note the black framing in pictures is due to my camera’s lens not retracting all the way. I bump it open when I notice, but there are times I don’t notice.

New building going up here.

A grand vista of the art museum.

And a picture of the newer wing.

There were so many good apartment buildings in Minneapolis! I love the arches on this one, and clearly so do the current owners, given the name.

Behind the art museum is a college.

Another of those houses that make me weak in the knees.

I love all three of the signs on this sign. What happened on the 1989 Arbor Day???

In Portland it sometimes it seems that every single block hosts a houseless person. But this was one of the only sign of homelessness I spied in the Twin Cities. I saw people who looked like they were down on their luck, but they didn’t look like they were also living in a tent on the sidewalk or an old RV.

Informational sign telling us of a huge lovely house that is no more.

Look at this little gem!

And across the street this great church!

Some beautiful stone.

And a sort of mini castle.

I loved seeing a few different stages of development here. The three on the left, probably all built around the same time. Then the two on the right, also probably built around the same time. Were they built before or after the freeway was put in? For the first set, definitely before, for the second set, maybe after?

From the looks of that dirt pile, there is a big freeway project happening.

Gorgeous little mansion down the street from my lodgings.

Statue and center that are directly across the street from that lovely little mansion.

Walk over, I packed up. I left the book of neighborhood walks at the house, but first I added notes pointing out the three walks within walking distance of the address.

And then I took the Green Line all the way to downtown St. Paul. On the way there I looked out the window on one side of the car.

On the way back, I looked out of the opposite window.

I learned that I have some St. Paul exploring to do. Its downtown has a great number of beautiful buildings. Also, I saw the MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) headquarters!

After that, it was back to the airport for a flight home.

What a lovely trip!

A walk in the Phillips neighborhood

I killed time between the defense and the big party by talking one of the walks in my walking tours book. This was of the Phillips Neighborhood.

I was staying in Ventura Village, but that’s the next neighborhood over. On my walk to the start of the walk, I snapped a picture of this church, where you can attend services in Norwegian!

When you have too much car for your garage…

Basically, Minneapolis is chock full of houses that leave me weak in the knees. Here is one.

All you need to know about Phillips.

Along with a close-up of the neighborhood boundaries.

Most of the walk was on Park Avenue, which has been redeveloped many times over the years. Thus, it was not unusual to see this lineup:

A grand building of apartment homes, built when that was a thing rich people lived in.

Right next to that, a 60s or 70s development.

And right next to that, a small office building.

Here were also huge mansions, like this one, which is now the American Swedish Institute, which I visited in 2015.

And this one:

And this one, which has moved on to a new life as a mosque. I did like that about Minneapolis. A lot of the grand houses have been converted to office space.

Very fancy looking office space, like this one, which houses the American Indian Services.

I liked the look of this stucco, and couldn’t decide if it was the pattern, or stucco suffering from neglect.

Look at this great church!

And these beautiful houses!

It wasn’t unusual to come across these views of fin de siecle houses with downtown towers looming in the background.

Look at the turret on this house!

It seems that bicycle theft is a problem here too.

Here’s an interesting corner. An older apartment building:

And across the street an apartment tower with its first four stories attempting to blend. This works for me.

And then this other corner with some new contstruction totally blending with a new tower looming in the background.

This is a pretty red house with a widow’s walk.

This might be my favorite picture from this walk. A nondescript low brick building next to a beautiful stone house, with a colorful Hannapin Healthcare buiding nearby and the prow of the football stadium poking up in the back.

I could have spent a solid week wandering through Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods.

Getting to the defense

My first full day in Minneapolis was also the day of Sara’s defense. I decided to use the Nice Ride bikes to get myself to campus.

On the same street where I was saying was this gorgeous apartment building.

My neighborhood had a lot of churches in it, including two across the street from one another.

About four blocks from my house were the bikes.

I checked one out and was on my way. Look at the great bike infrastructure they have! I rode bike lanes the entire way to campus.

This bridge took me over the freeway.

Here I have a great view of the Mighty Mississippi.

I got to campus quite easily using the Google Maps directions. From that point, I had a bit of trouble finding a docking station. The campus is large. I ended up docking at the Student Union because I knew where that was and vaguly in which direction it was located and then power-walked over to the defense.

Thank goodness I’d visited campus on previous trips.

The orange sign says that a house will go.

The orange sign was hanging on the gate outside the door of the church near my house. Because that church is within 300 yards of a demolition, it got a warning.

I felt very sad, because I thought this beautiful house had escaped the demolition fate. So I took a bunch of pictures.

And then I eventually figured out that the address said Kilpatrick street, not Interstate. Somehow, this house has survived! You can see the temporary chain link fence where they are cutting off the backyard.

Unfortunately, the smaller house around the corner is the one that will be demoed, along with the building on the corner. You can see a picture of these buildings by going to this post. And I suppose that means the lilac tree will also be on it’s way out. I hate to lose a good lilac tree.

You can see what might be coming by reading this post.

Vacant Demolished

Work is doing a survey that involves mailing to many Portland residences. A lot of them come back to us as vacant. On this one someone helpfully added “demolished.” It’s not surprising.

Here’s my best guess as to what 3951 N. Vancouver looks like. It’s been absorbed on PortlandMaps.com into 3535 N. Vancouver, which is currently the Brass Tacks restaurant.

This building could have been torn down in the past few years, or it could have been torn down as part of the “improvement plan” in the 1960s that gutted a historically Black neighborhood and resulted in empty lots for decades.

Something will appear here though, and probably sooner rather than later as this area is hip, happening and nearly fully gentrified. We can’t have weedy, empty lots in that kind of neighborhood.

6822 N. Interstate for sale

A.K.A not long for this world.

I love this little house, one of three on this block. It’s 756 square feet and was built in 1926. The last time it was sold was in 2006 for $160,000. It’s a rental, the owners live in Vancouver.

The woman who lives (lived?) here has yard sales multiple times per year. There is a new four-story apartment complex next door, and since this is zoned CM3, this lot could hold something up to six stories. (Although then you might also need to buy the two houses next door.)

Here’s the asking price: $349,900. If the sellers get that, they will have doubled their money in 12 years. It’s been for sale for some time, so I’m guessing the price will drop a little.

I include the picture of the sign so you can see someone has crossed out with a big “NO!” the words “with development potential.” Since the MLS listing doesn’t include any pictures of the interior of the house, I would be very surprised if this becomes someone’s home.

Cascading Home Improvements

I can tell the economy is better because the house across the street from me started a renovation trend that has rolled down the street to four houses. Let’s take a tour.

The beginner of the trend is this house. It’s been sold maybe twice in the 11 years we’ve lived here. It started as a classic house which hadn’t been updated much. There was a weird diagonal path surrounded by hedges from the front porch to the corner of the lot. The new owner has been a busy bee, removing the hedges, sledgehammering out the path and putting in a straight one. There’s a new fence and lots of boxes to grow things, plus things being grown in the boxes. (The two don’t always go hand in hand.) That bay window on the front porch is new and I think the front porch has been enclosed. Plus it’s been painted. It used to be a salmon color that wasn’t the greatest.

Next door, this house, which has also been sold in the past five years, has a big new front porch and the house has been painted. It used to be a cream color. Clearly the trend is toward darker colors.

Next door is this house which got a new retaining wall (mostly hidden by the blue car.) I think also it got a new porch, and they are building a big garage where their either wasn’t one or where there was a small one. It looks to be a garage with living space. I wonder if it will be rented out.

And the fourth house on the street is getting new siding, after getting its own very formidable retaining wall. The house next door to that is new construction so there is where our rolling improvements end.

But! Across the street from those four houses, this oddly shaped house has added an oddly shaped tall extension onto it. I hope it flows better indoors than it looks from outside.

Three houses on one skinny lot

This is a lot I’ve been watching since 2015. I used to ride by it regularly as I bicycled to work. The lot was sectioned off from the house next door and sold during that time. Not much has happened since then, though that fence is new.

Today I was interested to notice this for sale sign which not only advertises the price of the lot as just south of $300k, but also has already drawn plans for a three-unit modern condo development. My mind boggled a bit trying to mentally fit three houses in here so I spent some time studying the renderings.

This seems to be an example of vertical living. On the main floor is the kitchen/dining area, followed by the living room/office on the second floor. Then you climb to the third floor to get to the first set of bedrooms and then to the fourth floor to get to the master bedroom.

I did the math and the square footage works out to 376–441 square feet per floor. That’s a little bit bigger than the footprint of my studio apartment.

This is an interesting development in infill housing. It doesn’t provide parking, which I still feel should be at least a small priority for each lot. I do rather like the idea of three normal-sized houses on one lot, rather than one big one.

I’ll keep my eye on this property and see what appears.

Three houses not long for this world, +bonus siding look-see

These pictures came out darker than I thought. Apparently I took them at the time of day when my eyes register more light than my camera.

These three houses were mostly boarded up from the inside, so I didn’t notice that they had been vacated. They are on Denver Ave., just off of Rosa Parks Way. They are the type of house I love: small house, bigger lot. North Portland had a ton of these houses when I moved here in 2007. There are fewer now. And soon there will be three fewer.

Portland Maps shows an interesting situation for these houses. Two of them are on the same lot (6541 N. Denver) and the lot seems to extend into the third house, though it has it’s own address (6525 N. Denver). The middle house is not shown as having an address, both on Portland Maps and on Google Maps. However, the information on Portland Maps shows square footage for all three houses in the 6541 N. Denver record and there’s no information on the third house in the 6525 N. Denver record, So I’m assuming all three houses are included on one lot.

The lot was last sold in 1977 for $58,500. According to an inflation calculator, that’s about $231,000 of today’s dollars. I’m unclear if that $58k price reflects that it has three houses on it. In June, this lot sold for [and here I must interject via brackets that the number I’m about to type makes me literally nauseous] $1.6 million.

Wait! It seems the $1.6m is for all three houses on the block, plus the former recycling center on the corner. Nausea has slightly abated. Only slightly. My favorite site Next Portland had this to say on 10/27/17 :

Proposed development of a split zoning site, CG and R5. four story apartment building (20 units or more) on the GC portion of the site and 2 new single family homes on the R5 portion of the site. All existing structures on site to be demoed.

By dividing $1.6m four ways, that roughly pencils out to $400,000 per lot. 

Four hundred thousand dollars for just the land. That’s before the demo. 

And that, friends, is why we have a homelessness problem in Portland.

Fun fact, I first noticed these houses had been boarded up when I saw one of our neighborhood homeless residents sleeping on the porch of the red house.

Onto the houses. This guy is 600 square feet, with a full basement.  It’s the corner lot and has a nice big backyard. 

This house is 720 square feet with a full basement. The assessment also includes 500 square feet of concrete which you see in the picture. It serves as the driveway for both houses. This is my favorite house of the three, though I think it has the smaller yard.

This house is 720 square feet with a full basement. It is right next to the former recycling center.

The records don’t say, but I’m guessing houses 2 and 3 were built by the same builder. They look very much the same. There’s a good chance house the first house was built then too. They have a lot of the same lines. 

The record on Portland Maps only lists 1922 as a build date and it doesn’t specify if that year applies to all three houses. Either way, I will miss their presence. 

Here’s a side view of where the recycling center used to be. Portland Maps says this garage (it probably was one before it was the recycling center) was built in 1950. I can’t tell if this property was owned by the same person who owned the houses, but my guess is yes. If so, that person made a tidy profit on this sale.

The recycling center (Far West Fibers) closed soon after China stopped taking plastic from the USA, citing too much contamination. It was too bad, as this was a handy place for me to drop off the plastic that couldn’t be recycled curbside. 

Bonus picture! The property at 1936 NE Alberta. It’s a bit of office/shop space in the middle of a residential neighborhood. These are always a fun find for me. They are almost never shops or offices anymore, as our shopping patterns have changed enough that they are not viable as neighborhood shops.

Today, though, I was even more excited to find this detail.

Exposed: the previous shell of the building. It looks like sometime–I’m guessing mid-twentieth century–this building was revitalized to make it more modern. The sides were built out to make the structure more box-like and the brick was added.

If it weren’t a little too dark, you could see the former slanted roof which has been covered by the more modern flat roof.

Despite its office-looking appearance, Portland Maps lists this as a single family residential building. It was bought in 1994 for $135,000 (about $236k today) and was sold in 2017 for $695,000. The owners live on site, so I’m not sure what their plan is. Live in it? Demo and rebuild? It’s a big enough lot they could. There’s nothing on Next Portland’s development map, so we shall have to see.

Either way, I’m glad I got a chance to peek at what was there before.