There is a beautiful view of downtown Portland from the Pittock Mansion. | Photo by PDXtoday
Have you noticed some of the empty office space around town? Office vacancies were at 16.6% as of September 2023. Compare those numbers to the national office vacancy rate, which was 17.8% as of September 2023. One possible use for vacant offices? Affordable housing.
Recently, the White House released a new plan to convert commercial buildings into residential housing — affordable housing in particular. Resources will be made available from 20+ programs across multiple agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
We’re talking below-market loans, grants, and tax credits... all available to help take advantage of preexisting buildings to make more affordable housing.
How Portland is responding
In March, Portland City Council approved incentives aimed at easing the cost of converting office spaces into housing units by lowering seismic retrofit standards and exempting developers from paying system development charges.
Developers are currently weighing the costs and benefits of converting office spaces and city leaders have estimated that less than 20 buildings in Portland are financially and structurally ready to be candidates. As of June, three buildings were under consideration — including one at 2121 SW Fourth Ave. PDXtoday has contacted the Bureau of Development Services for updated figures and is awaiting a response.
Which vacant spaces would you like to see converted?
Have you passed an empty office building that would be a sweet apartment? How about some empty warehouses near public transportation that would make for a quick commute?
Tell us which spaces you’d like to see remade into housing, and we may feature your picks in an upcoming newsletter.
Kumoricon | Friday, Nov. 17-Sunday, Nov. 19 | Times vary | Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Portland | $10-$80 | This convention that takes its name from the Japanese word for “cloudy” has been celebrating anime culture through cosplay, performances, and fandom festivities for 20 years.
Portland Fall Cider Fest | Friday, Nov. 17-Sunday, Nov. 19 | 12-8 p.m. | Pine Street Market, 126 SW Second Ave., Portland | $25 | Take your pick from 40+ ciders and celebrate the harvest season.
St. Johns Plaza Annual Tree Lighting | Friday, Nov. 17 | 5-7 p.m. | St. Johns Plaza, North Lombard Street and Philadelphia Avenue, Portland | Free | See the North Portland neighborhood light up for the holidays, decorate and hang an ornament, listen to the Roosevelt High School choir, and sip free hot chocolate.
Saturday, Nov. 18
Forest Park Rake-A-Thon | Saturday, Nov. 18 | 9 a.m.-12 p.m. | Locations vary, Portland | Free | Join Forest Park Conservancy at one of four trailheads to help remove fallen leaves, protecting trails against erosion; all tools will be provided.
“The Office” Trivia With Todd Packer | Saturday, Nov. 18 | 4 p.m. | Helium Comedy Club, 1510 SE Ninth Ave., Portland | $27 | The “Pack-Man” himself (aka comedian David Koechner) will put your show knowledge to the test and share behind-the-scenes stories.
Nikki Glaser: The Good Girl Tour | Saturday, Nov. 18 | 8 p.m. | Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., Portland | $43.05-$129 | The nine-time Taylor Swift concert attendee and reality show star brings her brutally honest stand-up show to Portland.
Sunday, Nov. 19
Museum Free Day | Sunday, Nov. 19 | World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, 4033 SW Canyon Rd., Portland | Free | Learn about forests, from how they influence our daily lives to the challenges and opportunities facing them as critical natural resources.
Monday, Nov. 20
Zoo Lights Sensory Friendly Night | Monday, Nov. 20 | 4:30-8:30 p.m. | Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Rd., Portland | $13-$18 | Guests with different sensory-processing needs and their families can experience this annual spectacle with modified lighting and sounds, as well as and cool-down spaces.
“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is adapted for the stage by Robert Penola, with music and lyrics by Johnny Marks. | Photo provided by Northwest Children’s Theater
The 1964 Rankin/Bass stop motion holiday classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is coming to life this holiday season at Northwest Children’s Theater (NWCT) Saturday, Nov. 25-Sunday, Dec. 31.
Catch Rudolph, Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snowman, Santa, and all your other favorite characters from the TV special on the Schnitzer Stage at The Judy, NWCT’s new home in downtown Portland, during performances at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
NWCT’s production of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is best enjoyed by ages three and up, so bring the whole family to get into the holiday spirit with classic holiday hit songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.”
Pro tip: Ticket prices will increase on Friday, Dec. 1, so save by snagging tickets early.
Portland City Council has approved a revised proposal for a new, voter-approved police oversight system, with mixed responses from both sides of the aisle. Public feedback will be collected on the proposal until Dec. 15; city leaders will vote again before sending it to the US Department of Justice for approval. (KGW + OPB)
A new film starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman will be screened at the Hollywood Theatre before it’s released on Netflix. “May December,” which is loosely based on the true story of Mary Kay Letourneau, was directed by Portlander Todd Haynes. Tickets range from $10 to $12 and 35 mm showings start today. (KGW)
Javelina celebrates the historic and modern cuisine of Indigenous peoples across the country. Alexa Numkena-Anderson, the chef behind the new pop-up eatery, serves dishes like her grandmother’s potato soup, Sonoran hot dogs, and fry bread. Get a taste at the next pop-up, 12-5 p.m., this Sunday, Nov. 19, at Morchella. (Eater Portland)
Celebrate National Take a Hike Day this Saturday, Nov. 17, by hitting one of the trails featured in our hiking guide. It’s shaping up to be a wet day, but we choose to see the silver lining: more impressive waterfalls. Don’t forget a raincoat before heading out the door.
50. That’s how old Oregon’s longest bridge turned this week. The Fremont Bridge, which carries Interstate 405 between North and Northwest Portland, opened in 1973 and was the city’s newest bridge for 42 years until Tilikum Crossing was built. It’s named after Oregon Trail surveyor John Charles Frémont. (KGW)
Geoff Norcross, the 15-year host of OPB’s “Morning Edition,” is trading mornings for afternoons. Starting in January, Norcross will co-host OPB’s “All Things Considered,” the “most listened-to, afternoon drive-time, news radio program in the country.” The network is currently searching for a new “Morning Edition” host. (OPB)
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Want to celebrate the day of giving thanks, but don’t want to cook a full feast this year? No need to quit cold turkey — we’ve got you covered with where to find Thanksgiving dinner.
Andina, 1314 NW Glisan St. A few seatings are still available for a five-course feast with Peruvian flair for $105 per person.
Campana, 901 NE Oneonta St. The Woodlawn neighborhood restaurant will serve an Italian-inspired, three-course feast for $80 per person.
Grand Amari, 509 SE Grand Ave. You won’t find turkey or cranberry sauce on the holiday menu, but if antipasti, salad, your choice of braised veal or mushrooms, and polenta sound good, then this is a winner. $65 per person.
Lovely Rita at The Hoxton, 15 NW Fourth Ave. Partake in a family-style dinner à la carte ($65/person) or splurge on a $400 package that includes a two-night stay at the hotel and Thanksgiving dinner for two.
Toki Restaurant, 580 SW 12th Ave. Each $65 traditional Thanksgiving dinner has a Korean twist, with sides like kimchee creamed kale.
Fellow gardeners should check out the USDA’s new Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which was just updated for the first time since 2012 with the help of Oregon State University’s PRISM Climate Group. While zones have now changed in many parts of the US, most of the Portland area is still in zone 8b (with average coldest temperatures ranging between 15°F and 20°F) — but some hilly spots are in slightly warmer zone 9a.