The Clark Group

Keeping you up to date about the Portland Oregon housing market.

High-tech outposts absorb prime office space in downtown Portland

Technology Companies Bringing Dozens of High-wage Jobs!

Portland has in recent months landed a fairly steady string of outposts from technology companies that grew up elsewhere. Each has made a splash, bringing dozens of relatively high-wage jobs – even as the rest of the economy moves at a slow slog.

The growth has been a boost for Portland’s real estate market, helping offset the shrinking footprints seen in other industries.

In the past week, The Oregonian has reported on two tech companies — Squarespace, a website-making service, and Airbnb, the peer-to-peer travel-accommodations startup — seeking space for a significant presence in Portland. Each would bring 100 or more jobs. Others are reportedly waiting in the wings.

Why Portland? The growing interest comes as companies look for alternatives to the pricy real estate of the Silicon Valley, for one thing. Portland offers lower rent, plus a labor pool with a lower cost of living.

The Silicon Forest, meanwhile, has gotten a lot of good press for its quality of life and a vibrant startup scene of its own.

“The city is constantly being hyped as a lifestyle scene, and that really resonates with this particular industry,” said Kristin Hammond, a vice president with brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle in Portland.

The timing couldn’t be better. In the hangover from the recession, the traditional heavyweights -- the financial, insurance, real estate and legal sectors -- are all giving up space, and the tech firms are helping make up ground.

And while the companies are looking for a bargain compared to the Silicon Valley, they’re willing to pay top dollar by Portland standards. Built into the higher rents are large tenant-improvement costs to create the creature comfort-rich atmosphere for which the tech industry is known.

“They want to have space that’s improved to meet their needs,” said Mike Wells, the managing director at brokerage CBRE in Portland. “That’s not just the software companies that are coming to town, but they’re certainly leading the way.”

-- Elliot Njus

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