A couple weeks ago I started a new job, as the Planning & Communications Coordinator for the Ford District, and I’m thoroughly loving it! I found out about the opportunity at the end of last term when Mike Tevis of Intrinsic Ventures sent an email over the urban planning listserv saying that he was offering a dream job to an ambitious planner. Intrigued, I contacted him and we chatted on the phone for a few minutes. He introduced himself as a property-owner with a vision to create a transit-oriented, mixed-use hub in central Southeast Portland through adaptive reuse and some ground-up residential. He was speaking my language.
When Tevis told me that the Ford Building is one of his, I was instantly excited. I’d been to Ford Food & Drink for team meetings for my Site Planning class and I love the vibe there. The Ford Building was built in 1914 as a factory for Model Ts, and the building today retains much of the gritty charm of an old factory, but it has been updated and modernized. It now houses 90 small businesses including artists, entrepreneurs, and independent professionals. (Everyone from messenger bag manufacturers and branding experts to hair stylists and artisan pickle makers!)
When Tevis and I first met, he told me he wants to do new construction to add housing to his properties, too. I told him about micro apartments and he was instantly on board. “Your generation is so smart!” he told me. “You have already figured out that it’s not about all the stuff but about having a cool place to call home and everything you need nearby.” I grinned. I love the synergy of a city. I know inner-city living isn’t for everyone, but I think a place like the Ford District will be home, sweet home to folks like me who want to live the Little Life in an urban environment.
I met with Mike Tevis the day he closed on his latest acquisition, The Dairy Building, and he invited me to walk through it. That sealed the deal for me. I could see in an instant that this building with its incredible exposed beams and natural light from a plethora of skylights would be phenomenal when Tevis is done with it. “I love old buildings,” he told me. “They’re better this way!” Some people would have had trouble seeing through the pigeon poop, but Tevis envisions the potential and I can see it, too.
At Friday at the Ford, I had the opportunity to meet some Ford Building tenants, including Nutcase, Old School Stationers, and Fat Pencil Studio. Several of my classmates joined in the fun, too. Thanks for coming out to mix and mingle, fellas! The Ford Building has an amazing community of talented folks and I can’t wait to meet all of them. Want to hear about the next Friday at the Ford and other Ford District happenings? Like Ford District on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
My work in the Ford District will be the perfect counterbalance to Partnering with Portland Alternative Dwellings for tiny house, ADU, and pocket neighborhood consulting. While the latter are great infill options for existing neighborhoods, the Ford District is an opportunity to create a more urban mixed-use area right next to the light rail, streetcar, and Clinton bicycle boulevard going over Portland’s new transit bridge. Our cities need both type of space-smart, resource-efficient housing, so I’m excited to help make both happen here in Portland.