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Something different for Gresham - luxury town homes

Daily Journal of Commerce

November 22nd 2005

A nascent real estate firm and a development company are trying something they say is brand new for Gresham: luxury town homes.

Skyland Realty, a full-service real estate firm started this year to market the projects of Skyland Development, is marketing Ironcrest Estates, a 62-unit luxury town house development sited two blocks from Gresham's Cleveland Avenue MAX light-rail station.

The development would hardly be unusual if it were built in Portland, said Quyona Anderson, a broker for Skyland Realty.

But, in Gresham, Anderson said, "there's really nothing like it."

Skyland Development chose to build on the site - bounded by Powell Boulevard on the south, Sixth Street on the north, Cleveland Avenue on the west and Victory Avenue on the East - because of the nearby MAX stop. Prospective buyers with an interest in the upscale condominiums of Portland's Pearl District and West Hills, Skyland reasoned, would jump at the opportunity for similar but cheaper housing if it offered easy light-rail access.

Standard features of the three- and four-bedroom units, designed by Portland's Myhre Group Architects, include hardwood flooring and porcelain tile.

"If these town homes were to be in Forest Heights," Anderson said, "they'd be in the high $400,000s or $500,000s."

Of course, the development - which is being constructed in three stages with the first, 16-unit stage expected to be completed in March - isn't in Forest Heights. It's in Gresham, 20 minutes from downtown Portland. And, as a gated community, it lacks the ground-floor retail space that has made so many Pearl District town homes desirable. Could those factors turn off buyers when the units go on sale, probably for about $245,000, later this month?

Anderson doesn't think so.

"People are moving to Gresham," she said. "They can't afford prices here."

The site on which the units are being built sat vacant "for about nine years" until Skyland Development obtained it, Anderson said. Where other developers saw nothing, she said, Skyland saw an opportunity.

"People passed on it just because it's not in a place where people are developing all the time," she said. "But in terms of what you're seeing as far as areas and how they're changing, it's kind of like Portland's Alberta arts district."