Real Estate Roundup: Portland tops Case-Shiller again; Hawthorne Theatre sold (links)

The Portland-area housing market again topped the monthly Standard Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday, which measures year-over-year gains in home values among 20 of the nation’s largest metros.

That was just one piece of news during another busy week in the real estate world. If you missed any of it – and who could be blamed with the recent streak of nice weather? – here’s a roundup (click the links below for the full stories):

Seattle’s housing deal, political shift may provide Portland a blueprint

Like Portland, San Francisco and a handful of other cities, Seattle is dealing with a housing-affordability crisis resulting from an exploding population and a limited supply of homes.

But unlike Portland and San Francisco, Seattle has undertaken a unique and ambitious plan that sets the city’s approach to housing apart. The plan has upended traditional political alliances and played an outsized role in a recent

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Looking for a home in the red-hot Portland market? What you need to know

When Caitlin and Charles Vestal began looking to buy a home in January, the search quickly felt like a full-time job.

“It has been an insane process,” Caitlin Vestal said. “I wasn’t working during the time, and I’m glad I wasn’t.”

The couple moved from Austin, Texas, to Portland last summer, arriving in what would soon become America’s hottest real estate market. Caitlin had been accepted to a graduate program in creative writing through Oregon State University, and Charles landed a tech job at the Portland design and engineering firm Uncorked Studios.

The couple ended up with a small, one-bedroom apartment along Southeast Division street but eventually decided to buy a home – something they’d never done before – with a backyard for their dogs.

Here’s what they found:

Down Payment Insurance: Smart Protection or Total Waste of Money?

ValueInsured is offering down payment insurance to home owners. But is it a smart investment or a waste of money?


6:41 pm ET
April 15, 2016April 15, 2016

The housing crash of 2008 shattered the long-held notion that a home is a rock-solid, inviolable investment in your future. With home prices climbing steadily again to what seems like improbable (and possibly unsustainable) heights in some markets, many fear that we’re in another housing bubble—one that could burst, taking their life savings with it.

That’s why buyers may see the appeal in a new product from Dallas-based startup ValueInsured: +Plus, down payment insurance for homeowners. In a nutshell: It offers protection where protection didn’t previously exist.

However, the jury is

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The Kramer Quotient

‘ll always remember first arriving in Seattle

for college all those years ago. My new University of Washington classmates seemed enchanted that I was from a land so far away called “Spokane.” They’d look at me like I was a lost tribesman of Indonesia and just repeat it to me, “Really, Spokane. Huh!”

Later, in grad school in Missouri or working in Boston, I finally gave up telling people I was from Spokane because they had no idea what I was talking about. I just started telling people I was from Seattle. “Oh, Seattle! I love Seattle,” they’d say, like I passed the cool test.

click to enlarge

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Meet the Merchant – The Natural Nook

The Natural Nook owner Cathie Cates, left, and manager Connie Cosner run the florist and garden center in Gearhart.


The Natural Nook owner Cathie Cates, left, and manager Connie Cosner run the florist and garden center in Gearhart.

Connie Cosner, left, and Cathie Cates at the Natural Nook keep customers coming in during the slow and busy seasons by offering a florist and garden center.


Connie Cosner, left, and Cathie Cates at the Natural Nook keep customers coming in during the slow and busy seasons by offering a florist and garden center.

The Natural Nook

738 Pacific Way

Gearhart, OR 97138


How did you get your start as a florist?

Cathie Cates: Well, I retired from the phone company and, after three months I went crazy being

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Living on a Prayer

361 CPW is a forbidding stone monolith on the corner of 96th Street just across from the park, anchoring blocks of stately condo buildings, the kind that come with individual names on their entrance awnings and multiple doormen. It was designed in 1889 by the firm Carrere Hastings, who were assigned the project just after they won another commission to design the main branch of the New York Public Library. Photographs of the interior just after it was built show a grand space cut with barrel vaults and covered in Art Nouveau filigree. An enormous organ rises above the altar, below the words, “God is love and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.” The church was landmarked by the city in 1974. According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s original notice, the building “is indicative of the freedom of design achieved by the best

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Mad scientist or artist? Portland sculptor crafts intricate robotic bugs

PORTLAND, Maine — The lime green beetle appears suspended in time, wings outspread to reveal an unexpected interior of tiny metal gears — wheels and pinions, springs, levers and ratchets.

It looks as though the insect could be wound up. With a whir, the cogs inside its body would start turning, its delicate wings would shudder to life and it would fly away — across the small studio apartment, out the window and over the rainy streets of downtown Portland.

“People see the possibility in them,” Mike Libby, the robo-beetle’s 39-year-old creator, said. “Where do they come from, and what are they used for?”

In reality, the beetle doesn’t move. It’s a sculpture made out of a preserved jewel scarab beetle, antique watch parts and other machinery. Libby created it for Insect Lab, a body of whimsical artwork the Portland artist began in 1999 and has since gained global popularity.

In addition to a

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Har Mar Superstar comes home in time for ‘Best Summer Ever’

He’s lived it up with Kate Moss in London, Ozzy Osbourne in Los Angeles and Macaulay Culkin in New York, to drop just a few names. The thing Sean Tillmann really likes to talk about these days, though, is his so-called “grandma house,” where he intends to hang out with his less-famous Twin Cities friends.

“I’m not changing a thing, I love it,” he said as he welcomed us into a country-quaint kitchen that looked decorated circa 1954.

Better known by his half-baked but fully cemented moniker Har Mar Superstar, Tillmann hasn’t officially called Minnesota home for 13 years — going back to when he was 25 and quite literally living out of the Turf Club in St. Paul.

Just last month, though, the Owatonna native bought a small two-story house tucked away in the heart of northeast Minneapolis. It’s the kind of home a family of seven used

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E-commerce firm Shopify to be anchor tenant for Toronto property redevelopment

TORONTO – Two real estate trusts say they’re proceeding with plans to develop a site in downtown Toronto with Shopify Inc. as its main tenant.

The announcement comes nearly a year after Shopify’s initial public offering on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, which raised $131 million.

The electronic commerce company (TSX:SH, NYSE:SHOP) has committed to lease about 112,000 square feet or 44 per cent of the space at what will be known as the King-Portland Centre.

The site will be located at 602-620 King Street W., about two kilometres west of Toronto’s main financial district.

The property redevelopment is being done by Allied Properties (TSX:AP.UN) and RioCan (TSX:REI.UN), two Toronto-based real estate trusts.

Allied will manage the office component and RioCan will manage the retail and residential components once the project is completed in about three years.

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Scene and Heard: Reggae stalwart Toots plays on

Don’t let years of studio inactivity deceive you: Toots and the Maytals have not fallen off artistically, despite a break of nearly nine years between albums of original material.

In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spokesman for reggae music than the man who invented the term. Frederick (Toots) Hibbert, whose 1968 single Do the Reggay brought the Jamaican music to the masses, enjoyed a rise to international popularity that pre-dated that of Bob Marley by a year or two — which is worth noting, because Hibbert is one of the few reggae giants left standing.

Toots and the Maytals last played Victoria in 2012, when they headlined the Victoria Ska Festival at Ship Point. They are coming back this summer to headline again at the newly rebranded Victoria Ska and Reggae Festival, just their third local performance since 2001.

Toots and Co. were announced this week as part of the

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