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Wednesday 04.05.06

« 1st Thursday April 2006 | Main | Mayor Potter's First Thursday Symposium »

Live to Work? ... artists Work to Live

The Willamette Week published a completely interesting article by Zach Dundas today on a potential solution to the critical creative live/work space issue in Portland here. It's an important follow-up to his early reporting on the issue here.

A synopsis, developer Brad Malsin of BEAM and Works Partnership Architecture have come up with a plan to build spartan, concrete box rental live/work lofts that would go for around $500 a month in the Central Eastside Arts District. This would be a huge boon since Portland is swarming with literally thousands upon thousands of artists, crafters and entrepreneurs who are currently using their ill equipped living spaces as studios illegally. This would be so much better, although owning a place is ultimately the way you want to go (some of the 30+ crowd have bought places in the NE as well as on North Mississippi and North Interstate recently). The secret apparently is WPA's plan for communal bathrooms and IKEA kitchenettes. Its true, most artists care less about doors and finished rooms than raw, impressionable space.

I found it particularly interesting when one of the architects, Carrie Shilling stated, "Your making it less enticing in a way....That can be tough for some developers to think about because you're willfully restricting your profit if you build one."

So what about the developer? Brad Malsin was the underdog developer who wasn't completely awarded the very important Burnside bridgehead redevelopment even though he had the best and most popular plan by far. I've also worked with him, he made my The Best Coast warehouse show possible by providing the space. He understood the collateral/catalytic effects that having 31 artists and a few thousand art lovers might have on his property, and to use his words at the time, "just trying to do the right thing for the community by doing something cool." Later, clarklewis... the best restaurant north of San Francisco opened up downstairs with a similar urban, spartan chic. I'm pretty sure Brad understands, he's from New York and saw how pure greed lead to less than ideal communities. I'll repeat my mantra, more growth is coming to Portland and instead of ignoring it, the city should encourage the kind of initiative and intelligent sensitivity this kind of project displays. Change will continue and it's best for everyone here that it be directed intelligently.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on April 05, 2006 at 18:57 | Comments (0)


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