Sunday, September 20, 2009

South Waterfront residents fearful of new neighbors

From the Oregonian:

The developers behind Portland's South Waterfront district sold a carefully crafted image of luxury living at Ritz-Carlton prices.

Portland's Ziba Design Inc. made the developers' pitch with a sales office patterned after Apple stores and a neighborhood brand defined as "Urban River Living."

Now lenders in charge of the district's glitziest tower are selling the Atwater Place as though it was a $499 mattresses on fire sale.

South Waterfront's glass cubes, granite countertops and million-dollar mountain views have been taken over by bargain hunters and sidewalk salesmen waving red arrows blaring "AUCTION CONDOS."

Not surprisingly, the Atwater's original buyers are none too happy.

"We understand it had to be done, but the manner kind of cheapened it in many of our minds," resident Michelle Cohen said. "We tried to talk to the realty people, but they aren't budging." ...

The auction makes residents queasy, with starting bids as much as 63 percent below previous asking prices.

"It scares the heck out of me," said Neustadt Storie, a lawyer.

Neustadt Storie and her husband, who works in sales, paid $705,000 for a 1,900-square-foot condo on the fourth floor in January 2008. The unit below them, which has the same floor plan, is up for auction with a minimum bid of $349,000 -- half what they paid 2 1/2 years ago.

At that rate, Neustadt Storie figures it could be years before her condo recovers the value she paid for it.

She worries too about who her neighbors may be after the auction.

Stevens said nearly all of the auction buyers plan to live in their condos and aren't speculators.

Neustadt Storie said the Atwater is full of doctors, dentists and lawyers but she has seen younger people with parents walk through the building since the auction promotion began.

"Just what I want, to live in a dorm," she said. "My concern is the parents will rent it out for a frat party until they can flip it after the kid graduates."

The auction is tonight, please let us know if you are going to attend it.




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