Developers Tim Ralston and Dan Grunewald could have taken the path of least resistance and specified a much higher density (something city officials wanted, to boost the tax base) on this prime piece of waterfront property just north of Portland's Fremont Bridge. Their push to gain approvals for a down-scaled, almost suburban housing type seemed counterintuitive from a profit standpoint, but ultimately proved a shrewd move.
Sandwiched between the banks of the Willamette River and the city's legendary Pearl District, Riverscape offers a rare combination of nature, water, and urban hipdom that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in town. And guess what? Sales have been brisk.
It didn't take long for outdoorsy types to take note of the neighborhood's pedestrian connections. Walkable points of interest include restaurants, shops, and culture, but also hiking and biking trails, a boardwalk, and a 61-slip boat and kayak marina, which was completed as a project amenity.
The Riverscape Townhomes—which occupy 4½ city blocks and will eventually be joined by 3 ½ blocks of stacked flats and an eight-story luxury tower—opened for sale in March 2006. By August 2007, 52 of 104 units were sold, with all of the units in phases two, three, and four closed and two more phases still under construction. Nearly all of the townhome residences feature a two-car garage with direct unit access—a luxury that is virtually unheard of in urban territory.
Formerly occupied by the Port of Portland's Terminal One building, the site retains its original pier and respects the area's maritime industrial flavor with geometric façades marked by metal, stucco, and brick veneer “rain screen” cladding. To savor river and skyline views, residents need only step out onto their spacious private verandas with built-in gas taps for barbeque grills.
“The design was changed to enhance those outdoor living spaces after the early blocks opened,” says Lori Ralston, a listing broker for RE/MAXEquity Group Realtors. “Feedback told [the builder] to carve 300 square feet out of each plan and make it into a third-floor patio deck area. In the city, you often get small, not-so-comfortable outdoor spaces. It was easy enough to offer something better here.”
Project: Riverscape Townhomes, Portland, Ore.; Sales started: March 2006; Units planned: 104 townhomes; Price: $549,900 to $919,900; Unit size: 1,489 to 2,153 square feet; Builder: Apollo Custom Homes, Portland; Developer: Apollo Development, Portland; Architect: Leeb Architects, Portland
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR.