In 2006, a City of Portland Commissioner named Sam Adams had the idea that Portland’s economic future would be very closely linked to the city’s ability to nurture its existing arts community while continuing to attract young, creative professionals.
In 2006, a City of Portland Commissioner named Sam Adams had the idea that Portland’s economic future would be very closely linked to the city’s ability to nurture its existing arts community while continuing to attract young, creative professionals. In a meeting with real estate developer Ted Gilbert, Adams expressed his concern that our growing metropolis might soon be unable to offer affordable housing and work spaces for artists, pushing them out of the community. The potential economic consequences of such a turn of events could be disastrous.
In the past decade there has been a dramatic influx of young artists, students, and professionals coming to Portland due to the low cost of living and relatively high quality of life. This has had the net effect of raising the yearly cost of living, and the potential result of losing a significant portion of the population the city has gained in recent years would be a terrible blow for Oregon’s fragile economy.
Most Oregonians have intimate knowledge of what former City Commissioner Sam Adams has done since that meeting in 2006. Ted Gilbert, meanwhile, quietly took up the challenge set forth by Adams by founding Milepost 5 later that year.
“Milepost 5 is an intentional community of spaces for artists and creative types to live and work in,” Gavin Shettler, the project’s creative director, said.
“It is a private development by Brad Malsin of Beam Development and Ted Gilbert of Portland Affordable Housing Trust. I was hired on in 2008 to handle artist and community development, tenant relations, facility management, and project development,” he says.
Milepost 5 is not a non-profit organization, but a private endeavor that aims to offer artists comfortable, affordable lofts in a developing neighborhood. Located at 900 NE 81st Ave. in Portland, MP5 consists of 54 lofts that are available to anyone who wishes to become a part of the community, at a starting price of $84,000 per unit. In addition to living amongst other artists, residents enjoy a community garden, as well as a rotating art show in the building’s lobby.
Friday, Nov. 5, MP5 will be hosting an open house at its new studios building, located at 850 NE 81st Ave. Beginning at 5 p.m., attendees will enjoy live music, as well as art exhibits, installations, and performances from MP5 artists in residence.
“The studios building consists of 96 work and living spaces available for artists, musicians, actors, and other creative types. The application process to get into the building is extremely non-competitive,” Shettler said.
“We’re very excited to be able to offer people in the community one central place to come and enjoy so many different forms of art and expression. This is the largest live/work community in the metro area, and we’re very excited to be able to share it with the general public,” Shettler said.
In addition to being an experiment in art and the redefining of living spaces, MP5 may also prove to be an experiment in something else that Portland is deeply familiar with—gentrification. Multi-million dollar real estate interests in the area will certainly benefit from the community development that projects like MP5 offer, as will anyone with significant real estate holdings in the surrounding neighborhood. MP5 co-founder Ted Gilbert is currently in the planning phase of a $21 million development deal in the nearby Gateway neighborhood.
The artists in residence at MP5 may not price themselves out of the community that they are helping to build up, but they may very well price out others in the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to an evening of art and entertainment, the Milepost 5 studio building open house could turn out to be an excellent opportunity for community discourse as well. ?