Portland Developers Get Creative to Fill Glut of Ground-Level Retail

Ground-level retail is often seen as essential for activating urban streets. But what happens when developers have a hard time finding tenants? In Portland, vacant spaces are being converted into ground-level apartments to meet high housing demand.
December 17, 2013, 10am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Ground-floor retail has traditionally been seen by planners, developers and neighbors as key promoting street-level activity and vibrant urban neighborhoods," writes Elliot Njus. "But more developers are starting to see potential downsides, too, which is pushing them to look at alternatives."

“Retail is a fine idea, but as a planning tool, I think it’s been applied too liberally,” said Spencer Welton, a senior vice president for Simpson Housing. “It’s oversupplying the retail market, essentially.”

Landlords in Portland that are struggling to fill vacancies are converting ground-level storefronts into unique apartments that offer high ceilings and abundant light. "Privacy has been a sticking point for some potential tenants, Welton said, but others find the idea of having their own front door appealing."

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Published on Friday, December 13, 2013 in The Oregonian
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