Milepost 5 Affordable Artist Live/Work Space

Affordable live/work studios + artists = more arts education: To strengthen the ecology of Portland’s arts and cultural community, I will help lead development of a new partnership with private developers and arts, culture, housing and educational organizations to build 100 new affordable live/work rental spaces in the next four years for local artists while strengthening public school art education programs.


- Adams, Sam (2004). “Portland: The City of nearly starving artists, and five promises that can change that.” Sam Adams for City Council campaign. Retrieved 2018-17-2.



“Portland’s groundbreaking live/work space for artists, Milepost 5, has provided affordable space for hundreds of artists” since 2007.[i]


Adams ran for city council with a pledge to, “I will help lead development of a new partnership with private developers and arts, culture, housing and educational organizations to build 100 new affordable live/work rental spaces in the next four years.”[ii]


Six months after taking office, Adams convened a group arts activists and housing experts, as well as developers. He put the word out that he was looking of live/work project development partners. Participants identified a list of potential funding sources and incentives for affordable live/work, and the need for tax credits, grants, abatements, bonds, land trusts and fee waivers.[iii]


In the months that followed, Adams reached out to other developers, Adams’ office conducted a survey among artists and discovered “there was huge demand, artists preferred co-locating, and living with other artists, and rehabilitated buildings over newly constructed spaces. Between meetings outside city hall, Adams and his staff drove around max and streetcar transit stops, looking for locating buildings that could be retrofitted.


One afternoon, after Ted Gilbert, a commercial real estate broker and chairman of two nonprofit housing agencies, met with Adams about development in Lents. As he was leaving, Gilbert says, Adams asked him to be on the lookout for a locale for an artist’s community. “I said, 'Sam, I know just the place!' " Gilbert said.[iv]


Gilbert put a deal together with the two housing agencies, Portland Affordable Housing Preservation Trust advanced $2 million, which Gilbert leveraged into a $15 million line of credit. HOST (Home Ownership a Street at a Time) Development is the marketing/sales/rental agent. [v] The city’s financial contribution was relatively small — a loan in the lower six figures from Portland Development Commission.[vi]


Adams then help recruit Brad Malsin principal of Beam Development as the developer and operator. Beam purchased it in June 2017 for $2.2 million.[vii] with Malsin, with 50 percent owned by the nonprofit partners put together by Gilbert and 50 percent owned by Beam.[viii]


Beam’s planned 54 condominiums, priced at $95,000 and up, plus as many as 85 rental units. Some of the rentals share baths and kitchens, and rents were as low as $250. Communal properties include kilns for potters and glassmakers, wood and metal shops, an exhibition gallery, a performance and meeting center (in the old chapel), a restaurant and a computer-equipped business center. [ix]


Milepost 5 had operational teething problems, like finding tenants with the commitment to volunteer to help. Some artists thought Beam wasn’t doing enough to keep order and maintain the common spaces. Some other resented Maslin’s efforts to break even.[x]


Milepost 5 opened in the great recession. Brad Malsin, the founder of Beam Development, is open about the problems in the initial stages of the project. “It certainly didn’t turn out like we originally envisioned it.” It took Malsin’s company the better part of 10 years to get Milepost 5 to break even, and even people who stayed for years there have binary stories to tell: the fruitful time they spent working and making supportive friendships, in contrast to the social friction and disappointment with the fiscal model.[xi]


The first phase of the project, the Lofts, renovated the 1969 building into 54 live/work condos. Units range from studio-size spaces to fourth-floor lofts with views[xii] went on the market as the national housing market crashed. Beam, working with its lender, leased unsold units to renters. Malsin credits Albina Community Bank with taking a long-view on the project and modifying terms of the construction loan to keep it out of foreclosure.[xiii]


Malsin announced in February 2018 that he was selling Milepost 5 to Community Development Partners (CDP), a California company that specializes in affordable housing. It has Oregon offices and several projects in Portland, Corvallis and Albany. To head up the Milepost 5 project, CDP tapped a longtime hand in Portland affordable housing circles, Dan Steffey. “There are some very, very cool things going on at that property,” Steffey said. “We’re hoping we can build on the foundation and take it to the next level.” CDP wants to leverage federal tax credits to make upgrades, and he affirmed the company intends to keep lease rates right where they are.[xiv]




Footnotes

[i] Culverwell, Wendy (April 30, 2014). “How artists' sudden love of condos could change the course of Burnside Bridgehead” https://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/real-estate-daily/2014/04/how-artists-sudden-love-of-condos-could-change-the.html. Portland Business Journal. Retrieved 2018-18-2. [ii] Adams, Sam (2008). “Portland: The City of nearly starving artists, and five promises that can change that.” Sam Adams for City Council campaign. https://web.archive.org/web/20041116230543/http://www.samforpdx.com:80/arts.html. Retrieved 2018-17-2. [iii] Dundas, Zach (June 7, 2005). "Creative Bind: Artists want it. Developers want to build it. So why is cheap live/work space hard to find?" http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-4475-creative-bind.html. Willamette Week. Retrieved 2018-18-2. [iv] Hershey, Ed (April 26, 2007). "Bradley J. Malsin, managing member of Beam Development, LLC: Southeast Portland Old Baptist Manor may soon house artists." The Oregonian. Page B3. [iv] Portland’s groundbreaking live/work space for artists, Milepost 5, has provided affordable space for hundreds of artists over the years. [v] Hershey, Ed (April 26, 2007). "Bradley J. Malsin, managing member of Beam Development, LLC: Southeast Portland Old Baptist Manor may soon house artists." The Oregonian. Page B3. [v] Portland’s groundbreaking live/work space for artists, Milepost 5, has provided affordable space for hundreds of artists over the years. [vi] Baer, April (February 15, 2017). “Groundbreaking Artists Space Milepost 5 Changes Hands.” State of Wonder. Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio. https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/state-of-wonder/article/artists-space-milepost-5-new-management/. Retrieved 2018-18-2. [vii] Smith, Kennedy (March 7, 2007). "Former retirement community to become artist work/live space." Daily Journal of Commerce. [viii] Turnquist, Kristi (August 17, 2009). “Milepost 5: a community of art.” The Oregonian. Page B5. [ix] Hershey, Ed (April 26, 2007). "Bradley J. Malsin, managing member of Beam Development, LLC: Southeast Portland Old Baptist Manor may soon house artists." The Oregonian. Page B3.

[x] Portland’s groundbreaking live/work space for artists, Milepost 5, has provided affordable space for hundreds of artists over the years. [xi] Baer, April (February 15, 2017). “Groundbreaking Artists Space Milepost 5 Changes Hands.” State of Wonder. Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio. https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/state-of-wonder/article/artists-space-milepost-5-new-management/. Retrieved 2018-18-2. [xii] Turnquist, Kristi (August 17, 2017). "Milepost 5: a community of art Condos start." The Oregonian. Page C2. [xiii] Baer, April (February 15, 2017). “Groundbreaking Artists Space Milepost 5 Changes Hands.” State of Wonder. Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio. https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/state-of-wonder/article/artists-space-milepost-5-new-management/. Retrieved 2018-18-2. [xiv] Baer, April (February 15, 2017). “Groundbreaking Artists Space Milepost 5 Changes Hands.” State of Wonder. Oregon Public Broadcasting Radio. https://www.opb.org/radio/programs/state-of-wonder/article/artists-space-milepost-5-new-management/. Retrieved 2018-18-2.

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