DIVERSITY ON BLUEBERRY LANE
Q and A with Bill Reed, Developer
How is this project any different from other small subdivisions in Northeast Portland?
Blueberry Lane is a small subdivision designed for extended family living. We’ve built five high performance Craftsman-style homes around a common green with underground parking. The unique community creates its own synergy. Typically, developers build row houses in North Portland that are suitable for young yuppies, either married, single partners or live-alone type persons. This gentrifies the area. This is not cutting edge, innovative or supportive of diversity.
Our homes meet the strict historic code of the Eliot Conservation neighborhood. They have the simple elegance and amenities of the original Craftsman homes without the problems. They range from four to six bedrooms, and 2,000 to 3,000 sq. feet. Four of the five homes have an underground garage. All have double porches and the smaller new homes have four levels, with attic views of the downtown.
How does this support the mission of Portland to support diversity?
When Portland was built, they had diversity in the houses. They had two bedroom, three bedroom and four bedroom bungalows. Typically, they were owned or rented by families. But now family living is not typical. If you want diversity, you need to build houses that give you the opportunity for different ways of living such as a group of single parents, or a mom and daughter, or three generations. By building homes with private entry lower levels (we call these Boomerang Suites) we will attract people with extended families. These are people who rely on each other, who support each other. So there’s a synergy. When everyone is building row houses, we are building something different.
You say you are sustainable? What does that mean?
Our vision is that by building LEED Platinum houses that are synchronized with nature, we can save a million pounds of carbon dioxide over the life of each house. This is the same as planting 40 walnut trees. Building around a Common Green with no asphalt, lowers utility bills. With this common area, you won’t have the “Heat Island” effect that raises natural temperatures. Having a “green” is like surrounding yourself with green fields. It cools us down. Imagine this oasis in the middle of North Portland. It’s all about energy. Also, we are a USGBC candidate to be the first in the nation to develop a LEED Platinum inner city subdivision of single family homes.
What about parking?
All parking is tucked under each house. The Geo House on Graham has a two car garage facing the street. Three of the four new homes in the back have rear access single car garages accessed from Rodney Street. Garages eliminate street congestion often created by row houses with no off street parking. Although parking adds cost to each house, the security and comfort that a garage offers is worth it. Without the garages, there would be no place to store your car if you take the bus to work.
Why is Blueberry Lane such an exciting project for you?
We are known for building super-insulated, environmentally sound and sustainable homes with minimal operating costs. We believe very much in the environment. Blueberry Lane is a natural evolution of 15 years of building sustainable homes, plexes and mixed-use structures such as the Standard Dairy on MLK. We see this as our Crown Jewel—a whole new sustainable model for infill that supports diversity.
This is our first Village Green Homes project designed for community living in which all ages and stages share their lives. Some of our future projects will integrate the Elite Care (www.elitecare.com ) two-house model for elders into the design. All of our projects are Sustainable for Generations. In addition,Blueberry Lane is about Living Blue, (with community consciousness) and Being Green so that each person’s essential being and belief system can be paid forward to the next generation.
Who will buy these five new “Blueberries”?
We’re looking for a diverse group of people who have a propensity to live in this kind of environment, and who want to help us create a more synergistic ideal. We have no preconceived notion of who is going to show up or ultimately live here. We’re simply inviting everyone who shares similar values to step up, live their talk and make a difference in the future of our planet.