Central Eastside evolves into one of Portland's hottest — and priciest — office scenes

"Like many Portland tech startups before it, Uncorked Studios found itself a few years ago occupying some space in the RiverTec Building in the Pearl District.

But as the digital product agency began to grow, it needed to find a new home. Working with JLL and Beam Development, Uncorked ended up moving across the river into 1,500 square feet of the Eastbank Commerce Center in the Central Eastside Industrial District.

According to Marcelino Alvarez, founder and CEO at Uncorked, the jump across the Willamette was prompted in part by the budding relationship with Beam, partly by the Central Eastside’s character and partly by the cheaper rents.

“The Central Eastside just felt like us,” he said. “There’s great public transit, it’s got the vibe of a warehouse district that had a history of manufacturing, there’s sort of the bridge between old and new. And we really could not have afforded the rent if we had stayed in the Pearl.”

Much of what drew Uncorked to the CEID has also drawn scores of other companies — and developers — to the neighborhood, as well. So much so, in fact, that the gritty inner Eastside neighborhood that was long home to warehouses and light manufacturing operations has quickly become the hottest spot — over the Pearl and the Central Business District —for creative offices in town.

“From the Meatpacking District in New York City to LoDo and RiNo in Denver . . . Portland’s Central Eastside is the most recent example of a former industrial area becoming the center of it all,” said Mark Friel, a director with APEX Real Estate Partners. “In each of these markets, tenant demand transformed these tired and older industrial zones into cool, sought-after neighborhoods.”

Astonishing rents

With that transformation, however, has come what usually follows a rush of new interest: tighter supply, increased congestion and rising rents. In the past few years alone, brokers have cited with astonishment the rising rents in the CEID and how they have come to almost parallel those in the tony Pearl District."

Jon Bell, Portland Business Journal

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