The city is growing. So, too, are its buildings. Driven by the surging sectors in tech, athletic and outdoors gear, and advanced manufacturing, demand for office space is at an all-time high. Vacancies are at 9.1 percent—the fifth lowest in the country among major cities. Last year, Portland added 1.1 million square feet of new or renovated office space, with 1.4 million under construction.
“In the past, we would get one new larger commercial project every five to 10 years,” says Lisa Abuaf, interim director of development at the Portland Development Commission. “Now, we’ve seen multiple projects coming online within the past two to three years.”
According to Abuaf, much of the demand for office space falls in the small to midsize range—spaces, at 50,000 square feet or less, snug enough to coddle start-ups through infancy. But the new commercial real estate market is also built for exponential growth, with open-floor plans standard, accommodating loose or dense configurations. And overall, growth is creating demand for bigger footprints, too.
“For people who want 100,000 to 200,000 square feet, it can be really challenging, just because of our block sizes,” says Abuaf.
Hence: new buildings and renovated landmarks dot the skyline, while microscale hideaways provide the business world’s version of cozy corners. Here are some of the office spaces defining Portland’s new worker class.