Big out-of-town money buys up Portland rentals

Judith and Cliff Allen have owned the modest Marcus Apartments in Portland’s Irvington neighborhood since 1979. They personally know their 10 tenants, many of whom have lived there long-term and pay rents that these days are below the market rate. The building is 50 years old, but the renters like having hands-on landlords, said the Allens, who live in Clackamas County.

The couple now wants to build another 12-unit structure on the parking lot in front of the building. The surprising thing, said Brian Emerick, former chair of Portland’s Historic Landmarks Commission, is that they didn’t just knock down the old building and put up something bigger and fancier – and a lot more expensive.

“Almost no developer would have saved the existing building,” Emerick said. “They would have just knocked it down” and maximized the lot’s value.

But the Allens don’t want to throw their longtime tenants out of their apartments. It

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