Tag Archives: Commons at Dawson Creek

Our Move Is Complete

Over the last two weeks, Alice and I – with the help of two freelance movers – transferred the entire contents of our two-bedroom, two-bath apartment from Hillsboro to the Tanasbourne section of Portland.  The two of us are now officially Portlanders.

The distance involved (five miles) was relatively minor, considering the nearly 3,000 miles our initial move from Pennsylvania entailed during the fall of 2014.  However, the cost of relocating from Hillsboro was considerably more than projected, and the two-week-long move required a great amount of work on our part.  We’re not as young as we once were.

The Quest, an outdoor marble sculpture and fountain, was carved from a single 200-ton block of marble and situated in front of the Standard Insurance Company's building at 900 SW Fifth Avenue in Portland. The sculpture, carved in Italy from a single 200-ton block of white marble quarried in Greece, was installed in 1970. According to its artist, Count Alexander von Svoboda, the figures represent man's eternal search for brotherhood and enlightenment.
The Quest, an outdoor marble sculpture and fountain, was carved from a single 200-ton block of marble and situated in front of the Standard Insurance Company’s building at 900 SW Fifth Avenue in Portland. The sculpture, carved in Italy from marble quarried in Greece, was installed in 1970. According to its artist, Count Alexander von Svoboda, the figures represent man’s eternal search for brotherhood and enlightenment.  Not all Portlanders look at it this way, though.

The price of progress in Portland

Portland is booming.  The number of people moving into the area has been overwhelming the city’s resources, although real estate speculators are hungrily maximizing sizable financial rewards.  No one argues with the proffered observation that the “Rose City” – also known as the city of bridges – is being San Francisco-sized.

This hookah bar and restaurant on Belmont Street appears built like a gingerbread house.
This hookah bar and restaurant on Belmont Street appears built like a gingerbread house.

Everywhere one travels appear massive construction projects.  Part of the allure can be attributed to stunning scenery as well as marijuana retail outlets that are popping up to market the wacky tobaccy’s mind-altering products starting October 1.  Traffic snarls continuously challenge long-term residents’ commutes and exasperate newcomers.

But back to Alice and me.  Only two days ago, our new apartment was so crammed with possessions that boxes were piled to the ceiling.  I felt depressed and worried.  Fortuitously, a newly vacant nearby garage was a godsend, but our overflow of goods had to be taken there before the apartment complex’s parking lot was repaved – Sept. 5, as it turns out!

As I look around our 40-year-old rental townhome and walk through its two-story layout, the aesthetics of Alice’s arrangements are striking.  In addition, the landscaping here is not sterile as was the case at the Commons at Dawson Creek.

Living in a multi-ethnic housing complex

Our new neighbors represent a true mix of ethnicities, many of whom are working people.  Yes, Virginia, many are Mexicans, but we represent a true melting pot that abhor the divisions being exasperated by a certain Republican candidate for U.S. President.  More about my feelings on that subject in a future post.

Our new digs should serve as an ideal window on life in Portland while I continue to explore my ancestry.  The photo atop this post shows Alice’s arrangement of the home office from where I write.

Writing is as important as ever.  Trusted, valued family members already archived voluminous records of my mother’s side of the family, but much is unknown about my father’s side.  To remedy this mystery, I submitted a DNA sample to ancestry.com yesterday to see where that might lead.

Looking back

Alice and I dealt with a variety of challenges; we accomplished them because I drove for Uber often over the last eight weeks, leaving Alice alone.  If Portland had not allowed Uber into town, we would not have had the necessary resources for a second move in less than a year.

Room arrangement by Alice McCormick, whose sense of aesthetics knocks me out.
Our living room arrangement by Alice McCormick, whose sense of aesthetics knocks me out.

A word of thanks …

goes out to our Farmers insurance agent, Jasper Torrence.  She and husband Zack treated us to dinner and wine at Golden Valley Brewery’s Beaverton restaurant immediately after the move was complete, and both pledged help in case an emergency arose.  Jasper even greased the wheels so we could donate a carful of non-essentials to a nearby Goodwill outlet.

This couple’s Christian spirit went beyond the call of duty.  (Jasper was born into a minister’s family.)  We shall remember their hands of friendship for a long time, and we hope to reciprocate.

During the next two weeks, I will add more segments of “Virgil’s Story,” and more posts will appear on this blog, too.  To those who stuck with us, I say, “Thanks.”  It means a whole lot to Alice and me.

A Freeway View of Portland

When Alice and I moved west to Oregon, we landed in Hillsboro.  We picked a pleasant apartment complex sight unseen, utilizing the guidance of zillow.com.

We thought Hillsboro was a town, but now it’s a city.  And our apartment is smack-dab in a sterile environment owned by Tandem Property Management, strategically situated across the street from computer-chip manufacturer Intel Corp.

Euphemistically called the Silicon Forest, this land originally was nothing but forest.  Today, though, Hillsboro, rapidly approaching a population of 100,000, is clear-cut of virgin timber, as landscape engineers dot once-fertile land into a hodgepodge of cookie-cutter housing developments, franchised fast-food eateries and industrial parks, all pretending to be greener than the rest.

The lure causing an unprovoked blemish upon this part of the planet: high-tech industry, sometimes perceived as “clean.”  But underneath the sanitary veneer is a plague: the promise of quick riches.

This plague is akin to what is happening to the rest of Portland.  An increasing influx of new residents is moving in, and real estate prices are going through the roof, reaching crisis proportions.  That’s why construction is evident everywhere.  What we are personally experiencing is not an anomaly; one of my Uber passengers calls it the “San Francisco-ization of Portland.”

Tandem Property Management sees the increasing demand for housing as a proper opportunity to raise rental rates unconscionably.  When asked for justification for the disproportionate increase, its on-site manager gave a straight-faced reply, “Well, everyone else is raising their rents.”

Anyone who stays here shall bear witness to a future where a landlord ignores resident loyalty in lieu of the almighty dollar.  Too bad they’re ignoring Intel Corp.’s plan to double carbon dioxide emissions across the street.

A different outlook

Thoughtful landscaping exists at our new residence.  Beware of parking where you don't belong, however.
Thoughtful landscaping exists at our new location.  Be careful where you park, though.

Our new apartment, though, will give a true view of Portland: a panoramic window toward the City’s westbound freeway – US-26 – notably called Sunset Highway, because in the late afternoon, driving out of town focuses drivers’ eyes onto a brilliant, blinding sunset.

We’ll be close to friends and near Portland’s Bethany neighborhood filled with energetic, mature homeowners with whom we might share congenial repartee.  We’ll constantly witness the crush of automobiles heading to and from Hillsboro and points west.

Our new abode has an outstanding neighbor: a property manager by the name of Carlos, who has proved so far to be a gem.  Through a few deft maneuvers as well as divine intervention, the amount of our rent increase is reasonable and, after all the toil and trouble that a move entails, offers a realistic view of the real Rose City.

Alice and I will be closer to the heart of Portland, and I will be able to write and Uber here too.  We’re looking forward to the future.

We Are Moving

A funny thing happened to Alice and me while preparing a post about pinot noir wines in the Portland vicinity.

The roof caved in.

Tandem Property Management, our landlord, formally announced plans to raise our rent more than 50 percent – from $1,050 to $1,600.  Before last weekend began, though, the property manager onsite promised we could lower the increase by $200 if we agree to move to a next-door remodeled apartment when our lease expires.

We salivated at the bait thrown before us, but on Monday, July 20th, as we prepared to bite into the offer, we learned an additional sizable security deposit would be required.  As well, we must use professional movers to complete our end of the deal, and other contingencies were raised to destroy any hopes we might return to the apartment we dearly love.

With one hand, they offered salvation; then applying the other, Tandem took hope away.

Emotions on display

Alice was distraught.  I watched as her voice broke – almost going into tears – after she realized how empty Tandem’s offer really was.  We both tried to explain the difficulty this rent increase posed to Alice’s medical recovery, but the property manager didn’t bat an eye.

The land barons of Hillsboro, who affectionately call this area the Silicon Forest because of Intel’s corporate presence, are doubling down on their perception that well-heeled geeks will flood the area.  And somehow, we’re being punished for touting the Portland area on this website.

Consequently, we advise anyone attracted to move here, “Caveat emptor.”  Let the buyer beware.

On Monday afternoon, we made a good-faith deposit on a different apartment just outside Hillsboro but closer to Portland.  It is far away from the KinderCare location where Alice forged a bond with its toddlers and babies.

Everyone will miss one another.  But we cannot stay and be tempted any longer by the mirage that an affordable apartment exists here for us and Millie, the cat.

We will have to pony up a larger security deposit than ever before to make this move.  Somehow, we’ll do it, keeping in mind the following: We are merely pawns in the real estate appreciation game being played in Portland.

Plaudits to dependable friends

Some good friends stepped up and are helping Alice and me survive this change in environs.  Their names: Pauletta and Terry Hoffman, and Diane and Scott Chill.  The Hoffmans are inspirational cheerleaders, and the Chills led us to a suitable apartment complex where we will make our future home.

Unconscionable increases in rent are turning Portland into an unenviable place, and websites are springing up warning prospective new residents about the pitfalls here.  A Google search turns up some interesting links when you key in the following phrase: “Should I move to Portland”.

You’ll see some of the bad, as well as some of the good.  And for something more personal, this blog should do.

In the photo on top, I’m waving goodbye to the first-floor apartment that Alice turned into a showplace.  The attractive landscaping is performed regularly by Mexican-American helpers who obey Tandem’s instructions as best they can.

In less than a month, all our possessions will be moved from the inside, and any subtle reminders denoting we lived here – including our homespun welcome mat – will be gone forever.

Here’s the good news: At our new location, we can barbecue outside on a charcoal grill.

The flaming barbecue in Doylestown will soon become part of our Portland apartment life.
The flaming barbecue in Doylestown will soon become part of Portland apartment living.

Raising the Rent

Do you know the meaning of the word, “unconscionable?”

That sort of thing can happen to you no matter where you live, whether it be in the money-desperate East Coast, or the fascinating ambience reputed to be exuded in Portland.

What is happening to us already is taking place in downtown Portland.

We thought we were safe, but the fast-growth city of Hillsboro, now above 95,000, appears to be vulnerable, due to our proximity to Intel Corp.  The demon appeared to us surrounded by Gummi Bears that have the same false flavor as the handmade card above them.

The card read “We can’t bear to see you leave. Please stay for another year” (accompanied by an image of a teddybear).

The card and Gummi Bears, all hung by a piece of blue tape quietly placed upon our apartment’s front door prior to the Independence Day weekend, were accompanied by a faded letter that detailed a new rental price structure.

You can see those prices on our landlord’s website here.

Our floor plan matches that of the Devonshire.  So the real message we received says: Alice and I have until August 25 to decide whether we can continue to stay in our apartment.

If we do, we’ll pay an additional $550 to our current $1,050 monthly rent, more than a 50 percent increase.  And we must execute a 9-12-month lease to lock in that rate.

If we don’t agree to renewing our lease, we will be charged an additional $750 on top of our $1,050 – a total of $1,800 – on a month-to-month basis, effective September 1.

No wonder I was asked recently how Alice is coming along after her stroke.  I expressed optimism in response, but I’m the one who is worked up into a lather.

And that’s how we got to this point.  Doesn’t Tandem Property Management worry what kind of image this stroke of greed exudes while we try to pay off our medical bills?

That’s the definition of “unconscionable.”

Consequently, we are looking for a new place where Alice’s vision can take root and allow us to contribute to a city called Portland.

If you know a suitable place where the two of us can be comfortable, a cat can roam happily, and that contains congenial neighbors of different generations, drop me a line at [email protected]

We pull our fair share wherever we go, and will continue to do so. But the vibes here reek of greed.