Before & After: N Salem Ave @ Burlington, 1979

There’s just something timeless about these Weston Special apartments hanging on throughout the city, practically unchanged in the 40 years since construction. Shadows of a different age when the city was emptying out and land was cheap, the developments were spearheaded by local businessman and philanthropist, Joe Weston. Today, with a staff of 175 running American Property Management, he holds a small empire of affordable housing, self-storage and office space scattered across Portland. With wildly inaccurate names like “The Berkshire”, you can spot his affordable housing properties a mile away by their rich yellow-gold paint, recycled brick veneer, free-form juniper bushes surrounded broad swaths of barren bark dust and surface parking. Being utilitarian and cheap in nature, there is significant pressure to redevelop these quadplexes into higher density housing. And with that some of the last remaining cheap rents in the city evaporate into thin air.


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