Real Estate

Price Point: Top of the Pearl, or Top of Tabor?

Would you prefer a penthouse in the Pearl or a brand-new build near Mount Tabor?

By Melissa Dalton October 12, 2022

Would you choose a Pearl District penthouse or a new build on Mount Tabor?

WELCOME BACK TO PRICE POINT, where we look at two very different homes at around the same price point. This month, we're setting our sights at around $2.2 million. For that price, would you rather have a pristine penthouse in the Pearl or an in-progress build in the Mount Tabor neighborhood?

House 1: A Penthouse in the Pearl

When the six block stretch of NW 13th Avenue in the Pearl was going up for nomination as a historic district in 1987, the Crane Building was the crowning jewel, deemed “the most architecturally distinguished building in the District.” The building was designed in 1909 by William C. Knighton, who two years later was nominated by Gov. Oswald West to become Oregon’s first (and only) State Architect.

Knighton went on to design buildings all over the state, including the Oregon Supreme Court Building in Salem, Johnson Hall on the University of Oregon’s campus, and the Eastern Oregon State Hospital in Pendleton. But he is also responsible for many of the buildings that shape Portland’s downtown core, like the Sentinel Hotel and the Whitney and Gray Building, which has had Jake’s Famous Crawfish restaurant in it since it opened.

The Crane Building was a commercial office and warehouse for the Crane company, a national plumbing manufacturer. Thanks to a 2007-era historic renovation, its exterior retains that early-century styling and brick façade, while the interior was retrofitted to include residences, like this luxe penthouse at the very top.

The penthouse covers the east side of the building, and with almost 3,000 square feet of interior space, the plan has a nice flow. Nearly every room benefits from floor-to-ceiling windows. The expansive kitchen, dining, and living room are centrally located, with clusters of more private rooms on either end, such as the primary suite, or a den and family room, each of which can also work as bedrooms.

Vaulted ceilings and the lovely east light make for a spacious yet cozy feel, largely due to the sumptuous finishes, like wide-plank ebony wood floors underfoot and African mahogany millwork threaded through every room. From the cabinets in the gourmet kitchen to the walls lining the living spaces to the bathroom vanities, the custom millwork was installed with such attention to detail that the grain is vertically matched throughout the entire penthouse.

Add 1,282 square feet of private terrace that wraps the home on three sides, complete with mountain and city views, and it’s easy to see why this building is still such a gem.

Listing Fast Facts

Address: 710 NW 13th Ave Ph -2, Portland, OR 97209

Size:   2,964 square feet/3 bedroom/2.5 bath 

List Date:   8/25/2022 

List Price:  $2,180,000 ($1,333/month HOA)

Listing Agent: Susan Suzuki and Sasha Welford, Windermere Realty Trust

House 2: A Tabor-Top Gem Coming Soon

Longtime Mount Tabor neighborhood residents have long passed by the four empty lots on SE Pine Street and wondered about their fate. Now they know: local builder Ethan Beck Homes and notable firm Skylab Architecture have joined to collaborate on four new residences there, only two of which are still available to purchase.

If you’ve been to Knott Springs, Takibi, or the Serena Williams Building at Nike recently, then you’re familiar with Skylab Architecture’s work. (Also, if you read our sister column Property Watch on the regular, you might remember the modular house made of triangles.)

Here’s a chance to own another Skylab residence. This particular lot is almost a quarter-acre, with the proposed house clocking in at 2,735 square feet, with three bedrooms and 2.5 baths. As expected considering the firm, the look is modern, with vertical cedar siding and a metal roof. A rear wall filled with large windows and a stairwell encased in glass nestles into the trees, while a large deck wraps the front for city views.

The finishes should be top-notch, with hardwood floors and quartz counters listed. But the beauty here is that a motivated buyer can customize the interior to their liking, since construction on the home breaks ground this fall, for proposed finish in spring 2023.

Listing Fast Facts

Address: 6535 SE Pine St, Portland, OR 97215

Size:   2,735 square feet/3 bedroom/2.5 bath 

List Date:   10/6/2022 

List Price:  $2,225,000 

Listing Agent: Kevin Caplener and Jan Caplener, Windermere Realty Trust

Final Thoughts

These homes are quite closely aligned in their basic stats, including the interior square footage and number of bedrooms and baths. (The penthouse has one room earmarked as a den, which could serve as a fourth bedroom, if needed.)

Even the interior style feels somewhat similar—rich wood tones, minimal detailing, and lots of windows—although the Tabor modern has that possibility of customizing the finishes to your preference. That’s a plus for buyers who like the idea of putting their own stamp on a home or might prefer a lighter wood tone to the darker hues in the renderings.

Both have the possibility of single-floor living. The Tabor modern has the primary suite on the main floor, while the extra two bedrooms and bathroom are on the lower level with the two-car garage, which may or may not provide desired separation, depending on the buyer.

That brings us to the setting, which is really going to be the primary difference between these two. Where do you want to be? At the top of an iconic building by a historic architect, in the heart of the city, with so many modern amenities at your fingertips? Or, in a more relaxed, park-like setting, in a modern abode by a renowned firm that’s shaping the city now?

Melissa Dalton is a freelance writer who has focused on Pacific Northwest design and lifestyle since 2008. She is based in Portland, Oregon. Contact Dalton here.