The Coastal Packet: Is there a place in Portland’s future for the people who made Portland what it is?

Tuesday, June 14

Is there a place in Portland’s future for the people who made Portland what it is?

Alex Steed, Bangor Daily News -  Portland is experiencing its moment. It has been enjoying appearances on a seemingly endless supply of “best of” lists regarding its food, its beer, and its startup environment. These achievements are worthy of celebration. I count among my very best friends and colleagues some of those who are celebrated contributors to these scenes. But this moment, one defined by growth, is accompanied by growing pains.

Portland is one of the very best small cities in which to eat a mind-blowing and creative meal, drink a delicious beer and, increasingly, explore starting a company. Wearing my own business hat, I hear great news in all of this.

But talk with those who have played music here for a long time, and they’ll ask where all the venues have gone. Talk to the artists, and they’ll ask where all the galleries have gone. Talk to the renters, and they’ll ask where all the affordable living space has gone.

One of my employees has been trying to find an apartment on a respectable budget for two months. She has looked at dozens of places and has come up short every time. A friend suggested she check out his apartment — he’s leaving this month — but noted his landlord is considering nearly doubling rent upon his departure.

My company looked for a studio for nine months and, without exaggeration, every property we looked at, including the one we eventually leased, was part of some condo conversion plan. The market has helped to make renters a priority lower than buyers of condos, guests at hotels, or Airbnb tenants.

Increasingly, Portland is becoming difficult to inhabit for people who aren’t looking to start a restaurant, brewery, startup or become landlords. My wife and I do comparatively well — she is in commercial banking, and I own my own company, which is growing at a steady pace — and we are looking to relocate to Greater Portland, but Portland is out of our reach.

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