Tag: infill

Garage Demo Leads to Lot Sale

A demolition permit at 8115 SE Yamhill Street makes way for a property split and sale. Permit number 20-188105 seeks to remove the attached garage connected by a breezeway to the 1917 house at this location.

Work is underway at the recently purchased home on Yamhill Street. Glacier Properties LLC bought this double-wide property in July of this year. Lot Confirmation 20-180814 started the process of splitting the property into two separate lots. The garage straddles the future property line between them and needs removal to facilitate separation.

The newly created empty lot is already for sale with a list price of $275,000. A note in the 40-foot by 100-foot lot’s listing states that “Garage demolition [is] in process.”

This undeveloped, standard-sized lot should attract mostly developers. However, a home buyer looking to build something custom could make use of this property. Double-lot sales followed by immediate property splits are becoming more common in Montavilla this year. This example on Yamhill Street is the fifth one in recent months. Look for the new property to be sold and developed soon.

Construction Beginning at Madison Street Infill Home

Heavy equipment is on-site at 8014 SE Madison Street ahead of construction work. A new building permit for a single-family residence was recently issued. The two-story home with one car garage took six months to receive approval.

A fresh spread of crushed rock forms a temporary driveway on the site after many months of inactivity. Plans are not yet available for public review. However, the reduced width of the property and inclusion of an attached garage will limit the floor-plan options for this home. It will likely be similar to other infill homes seen in the neighborhood.

The Skinny Infill

UPDATED – The lot at 8020 SE Madison Street has been split and permit applications have been submitted. The proposed new single family residence will be a two story, 1-car garage structure on a very narrow lot.

Capital Builders LLC is listed as the owner of the 1989 single story house at 8020 SE Madison Street. The future address for the new house is not know, as the parcel division has yet to be recorded in Portland maps. Although, the boundary of 8020 SE Madison Street has been reduced on the map to end at the new fence line.

Montavilla should expect to see even more infill like this one. Developments that fit in spaces some may think are too small to accommodate another house. Despite the feeling that we are endlessly adding new residences to Portland, new reports show we are still falling short of what is needed. The alternative, to this type of infill, is more apartments and less single family housing. Both new apartments and new homes are being built in Montavilla and will probably continue to be built, in quantity, over the next decade as our population spikes.

Good architecture and infrastructure improvements will help lessen the appearance of density. It will be exciting to see how this new house on the skinny lot uses the space to its fullest.

Update – The house number has been assigned. 8014 SE Madison Street is the new house address. 03/​02/​2020 08:01 NSFR 20-111080-RS.


Originally published February 25, 2020

Needed Return of the Rowhouse

Very few terms in architecture and city planning are met with as much impashioned opinions as the Rowhouse. It has been associated with an image of poverty and bland living. However, attach the name Brownstone to a street of similar shaped houses with shared walls, many have a more positive view. The Rowhouse exists all over the world and in many different iterations. Consequently, the way you feel about them could have more to do with were you grew up and the media you watch.

Row houses offer affordable ownership without a HOA fee and offer more expressive freedom to residents than a condo. It is attractive to first time home buyers and people who could never afford the prices of a detached home. These positives have been countered by negative economic changes for the areas where these houses were built. Clusters of lower cost properties, over time, will turn neighborhoods into a blight on the city. This can happen to any centralized location of affordability. When a neighborhood only has one class of housing, residents must move away as soon as they can afford a better home. When a flow of financially stable people move out of an area, that drives down the property value for the people who remain. A few cycles of that migration will devastate the value of an area.

The biggest failing of the classic Rowhouse in america, has been its location in a sea of identical buildings. As a solution for density they can be a great solution, as long as architecturally and socially they meet a high standard. Dim, skinny houses, made from inferior material is bad building regardless of if it’s in a row or detached. If a substantial width is preserved, greater that 18 feet, a house will feel comfortable.

The properties pictured above are not row houses, but instead are classified as Townhouse condos. 603 NE 92nd Ave is owned by ADS Properties LLC. All five residences share the same lot, although they have different street numbers. Many people think of Townhouse as a nice term for a Rowhouse and there is endless debate on if that is true. The one thing stopping anyone from calling these row houses or Townhouses, is the lack of distinct parcels of land with independent ownership.

Despite its distinction from being a Rowhouse development, the scale of this project is perhaps the ideal length for row houses. Although this is a large block of housing, it occupies less than a quarter block. Most other residences around it are detached single family homes, making it more acceptable to the community standard. Row Houses can cost less but do not have to be cheap. With a mixed block approach to row houses, if the residents want to upgrade their homes, they can find options in the same area.

Infill houses are trying to squeeze into spaces that make them awkward and ugly. This is all in the name of maintaining a slim yard between houses. That land between two houses is often wasted and could have been used to add an additional five feet to the width of the house. Housing density is a good thing when balanced with other housing. We should be inspired by solutions in between an apartment and a detached house. Good city planning is based on selectively saying yes to different housing ideas, not maintaining uniformity in neighborhoods.


Additional Reading on Row Houses – American Planning Association offers a detailed look into the Rowhouse, past and present. The Urban Omnibus, a publications of The Architectural League of New York, also provides a social and historical look at the Rowhouse.

Corner Lot Carved Out

UPDATENew information posted in followup article.

The corner of NE 72nd and Burnside is looking more open these days. The new owner of 7 NE 72nd Ave, Kimco Properties LTD, has cut down the once dominate hedges that surrounded the house. The now exposed yard has been cleared in preparation for future development. An application to split the lot has been submitted and is in the final review phase.

Image from Google Maps

The new, and yet to be renumbered, house will become the corner lot on the block. The lot is skinnier than most seen in the neighborhood. The documents seem to indicate a request for a “reduced side setbacks allowed under 33.120.270.D” for this property. This should allow the new building to use more of the property width than regularly allowed.

Just a year ago, March 22nd 2019, the original owners sought to partition the property into two or three separate lots. The Kamasz Family LLC filed Early Assistance request 19-136919-000-00-EA:

Option 1 – Three lot land division with one corner lot, one lot fronting on Burnside only & one lot lot fronting on SE 72nd Ave only. Existing dwelling to be demolished. Option 2 – Two lot land division with existing dwelling to remain on corner lot with one new lot fronting Burnside only.

Apparently neither of the two options were accepted as both lots seem to be fronted along NE 72nd Ave, in the current application. However not all documents are available at this time and the front door could be along Burnside.

This reduced width lot will have many architectural challenges and its exposure along Burnside will make those choices highly visible. It is unknown how long it will take before a building permit is issued for this new property. However, the clearing of hedges from the property could indicate it will be sooner rather than later.

Infill Home with Good Layout

The new infill residence at 1328 NE 76th Ave will complete construction soon. Building on split lots poses many challenges. It’s challenging to create a functional floor plan in such a long structure. At just 15 feet wide, any architect would find challenges in creating a comfortable home. This single family residence dose does many things well to make use of the limited width inside.

At the front of the main floor is a single car garage. Set back eight feet from the front of the house is the entryway. This setback has the advantage of reducing hallway length from the front door to the rest of the house. Just before reaching the great room is a small 1/2 bath, tucked under the U-shaped stairs. The bathroom is small enough to wash hands while seated but demonstrates the height of spatial efficiency. Just beyond the U-shaped stairs is the great room with a gas fireplace. Above the fireplace are hookups for a wall-mounted TV. The kitchen and dining area occupy the back of the first floor. A sliding glass door leads out to the back yard.

The master bedroom fills the front of the second floor. The ensuite contains a double vanity, separate shower, and soaking tub. Across from the ensuite is a double-wide closet. The ensuite wall and the closet doors form a ten-foot-long hallway to the master bedroom door. Having the hallway in the room gives the bedroom an extra level of privacy, even if the door is open.

At the top of the stairs is a shallow linen closet. The hallway stretches down the right side of the building, ending in a full bathroom, taking up the second floor’s right back corner. The left side, of the rear portion of the level, is split between two bedrooms and a laundry room. The Laundry room is between two standard bedrooms and backed against the closets for each bedroom.

The development is by Wilde Properties, who is a specialized builder of infill homes in Portland. For an infill house, they appear to have created a pleasant residence. Considering the constraints, they have done well packing in a fair amount of home into a small package. 

House Nestled Between

In what could be called a cozy infill, 947 NE 74th Ave is wrapping up exterior work. This new single family residence, by Ernie Jette Construction Co., is built on a lot split from 925 NE 74th Ave.

The slender house has been creative in its layout. Having the single car garage upfront, occupies a great deal of floorspace. The remainder of the first floor is occupied by a kitchen, 1/2 bath, and great room dining area combination. When entering the house, you must walk down a long hallway and turn 90 degrees to the left. You walk into the kitchen that takes up a good portion of the middle of the first floor. Across from the kitchen, hugging the right wall, is a 1/2 bath that is just as wide as the halway. The bathroom is tucked under part of the stairs and forms the wall at the end of the entry hallway.

The great room has a sliding glass door in the back to gain access to the yard. There is plenty of light in the back half of the house with many windows. The side windows in the great room push out an extra foot, giving slightly more floor space.

Upstairs are three bedrooms. In the front is a standard bedroom that spans the width of the house. Behind it is a smaller second bedroom. It is missing near four feet in width, to accommodate the hallway to the front bedroom. Behind that is a shared full bathroom. Across the hall from the bathroom is a laundry closet. At the rear of the second floor is the master bedroom with a 3/4 ensuite. The ensuite is has a double vanity and is larger than the shared bathroom.

When designing the exterior of the house, they have taken care to adopt some design elements of the neighboring houses. They implement a hip roofline like the house to the right and shingle accents like the house to the left. A benefit of being close to the other houses, and fronted on the same plane, the length of the house will be obscured. For being so close the other houses, they have done a decent job of blending in.

NE 80th Townhouses

Back in the North edge of Montavilla, evolves modern townhouses. Swift Development LLC has been busy at work creating four residences at 990 NE 80Th Ave. Each structure has two units, each building turned to front on different streets. They share a common aesthetic of black corrugated metal cladding. The fronts are framed vertical planks on the first floor, with lap siding above.

The two units, fronted on NE 80th, have a shared front deck spanning the width of the structure. Inside, the unit are laid out in a mirror of each other. The Main floor is wide open with the Kitchen centered on the long exterior wall. In the middle of the room is a kitchen island containing a sink and dishwasher. The stairs up to the second floor push out the sides of the building, leaving the main room a perfect rectangle and creating interesting exterior shapes on the building.

The second floor has two standard bedrooms in the back that share a full bathroom. There is a laundry closet across from the bathroom. The master bedroom takes up the front portion of the second floor. It has a 3/4 ensuite with a pocket door.

Around the corner, and on the same lot, are 8012 NE Holladay Street and 8016 NE Holladay Street. These units have a single car garage and rise to three stories tall. Again each unit is a mirror of the other. The first floor has a garage and 3/4 bathroom. The back portion of the 1st floor has a media room with a sliding glass door leading to a small yard. This structure also has the stairs protruding from the side of the building, preserving interior space and creating shape to the building’s exterior.

The second floor is an open floor plan with the Kitchen centered on the long exterior wall. Center in the room is a kitchen island containing a sink and dishwasher, in the same layout as the other building. There is a full width deck off the back of the second floor. It is covered by the third floor of the building.

Just like the other building, the top floor has two standard bedrooms in the back that share a full bathroom. There is a laundry closet across from the bathroom. The master bedroom takes up the front portion of the second floor. It has a 3/4 ensuite with a pocket door.

This building makes bold choices for what is mostly a traditional area of Portland. It is obvious and stunning. Were most houses around it are single family homes, this project offers density and a bit of affordable elegance. More developments are aviding blending in and opt for standing out. While some could desire a bit of uniformity in surrounding properties this type of standout building creates character and depth to the streetscape.

Two Homes on One Lot

A year ago 713 NE 93rd Ave sold to Chalet Homes LLC when the lot was split off of 723 NE 93rd Ave. The new lot bumps out in the back, making both lots stubby L shaped. With 713 NE 93rd Ave wider in the back it can accommodating two houses on one property.

Both structures will have three floors. The front structure (Unit A) will have a single car garage, half bath, and bedroom on the first floor. The second floor has an open floorplan with the kitchen in the back and the great room in the front. Accessed from the great room, off the front of the house, will be a deck spanning the whole width of the house. There is also a half bath off the side of the kitchen. The top floor has two standard bedrooms and a 3/4 bathroom, at the front of the house. A small master bedroom is located at the back with an ensuite.

The back structure (Unit B) has its kitchen and great room room on the first floor. Similar to the front house, there is a half bath off to the left of the kitchen. The second floor contains two bedrooms and one full sized bathroom. The entire third floor is the master bedroom. It has an ensuite slightly larger than the bathroom on the second floor. There is also a walk in closet at the back and a small second closet at the front of the room.

Unlike many duplex opportunities, this arrangement provides a buffer by not sharing a commonwall. Both single family homes are small but creative in their use of space. This property could be a good rental investment, offering two houses worth of income on one property. Alternatively, this would also be ideal for a young family looking to get into a new home and have a built in income stream with a second unit. The number of stairs in these houses would not make it ideal for a multigenerational home, as some duplexes can be.

Twin Houses Framed

Principle framing is nearing completion on mirror houses at 414 NE 76th Ave and 420 NE 76th Ave. The lot was split into two parcels back in December of last year. Construction has progressed quickly and these houses could be ready to sell this summer or sooner.

Each house will have a single car garage. The main Floor is primarily occupied by the kitchen and Great Room in an open configuration. A half-bath on the first floor sits just off the side of the kitchen.

Upstairs is a central family room with two standard bedrooms at the back. A shared bathroom and laundry room sit off the side of the family room. The master suite occupies over half the second floor at the front of the houses. The ensuite has a walk in closet, separate toilet room, and double vanities. There is also independent shower and bathtub facilities. The master bedroom widens at the front of the house to create a sitting room with access to the 22 sq ft front deck.

Making the houses mirror duplicates of each other is an interesting choice but should help to offset the skinny constraints of these buildings. The street facing roofline will utilize a Skillion and lean-to roof, to further project width that is lacking in these houses.

Overall, these are ideal family homes that create parental oasis near the children but with amenities to keep one comfortable in the master suite. The downstairs functions well as adult space for cooking and entertaining.

These houses are near perfect, mirror duplicates of each other. Hopefully the new neighbors will become friends, if only to be weirded out by visiting the other side of the looking glass.