The NW Natural Street pf Dreams had a bout of conscience and this year is in two locations in Happy Valley. One, called Heritage Crest (12500 SE Mt. Scott Blvd) features three luxury custom homes in their own gated community. Prices range from $1.5 million to $3 million. There are also some temporary sleeping pods and some three-room homes made from metal shipping containers.
The other, Pleasant Valley Villages (11878 SE Bridal Veil Falls Place) includes three modest show homes on a larger development, in the half million dollar range
Last fall the thinking from the organizers, the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, was that some restraint might be in order, given the 2020 recession. As Lizzie Levin, a marketing executive with Holt Homes, said, "After the pandemic, some people's dreams might look a little different." Levin was talking about whether people might be choosing less expensive finishes when they buy a new home, not suggesting they live in a triplex metal box. But there's another reason why the main custom home site is only three houses this year: Supply chain. Homebuilders were just not sure last fall if they could secure all the materials to build a luxury home in a few months for Street of Dreams 2021. Even two weeks before opening, a large window for House Number 1 sat idle because a part needed to install it was on back order.
One man who had confidence is Red Hills Construction owner Bill Krasnogorov. He built houses Number 2 and 3 and is the developer of the three-home plot.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, 13 days before the show's opening when every plant, wine wall and Tuscan tile is supposed to be perfectly in place for VIP visitors, Krasnogorov was directing traffic in the hot afternoon sun. The road in front of the houses, Southeast Mt. Scott Blvd, was still being graded and flaggers were holding up traffic in all directions. Trucks crammed what will be the turnaround for the homes, squeezing in and out like time-lapse Tetris. In each home trades jockeyed for space: Tilers and carpet layers on their knees, painters up ladders and scissor lifts, counter top installers and lighting experts in the hallways. (No one was wearing a mask.) It seemed unlikely that these home could be finished in time, but Krasnogorov, who normally takes eight to 12 months to custom build a home for wealthy clients, was buzzing."Yesterday was probably the busiest day of my life," he told the Business Tribune the next day by phone. "I was managing probably a dozen crews totaling over 60 people, and we had city inspectors on site." The trades had been there around the clock, and it was his job to make sure they could do their work. "The morning started off with our tile crew being inside a home from about midnight to six a.m. And then our electricians and plumbers came in. The electricians had two separate crews that worked from about six a.m. until early afternoon and then from about the noon till about 10.30 at night." He explained: "This year, we only had about a 90-day building opportunity and we're utilizing every day."
Supply chain issues were huge this year, long after the China COVID slowdown of January 2020. Krasnogorov said PVC pipe was hard to find because the Texas freeze shut down chemical plants. The prices of dimensional lumber (two by fours to two by twelves) did not skyrocket but laminated woods such as plywood did.
"I had to go through more hurdles this year than any in 20-year career building custom homes," he said. "Some of the simplest items that we don't think twice about actually had to be ordered months in advance. Like siding material. I don't ever remember a time where I had to reserve HardiePlank."
Dealing with local jurisdictions and utilities was harder too, since so many people working from home took longer to get back to him, although he did praise the city of Happy Valley for being responsive. He liked that they would do follow-up inspections by video. As project manager Krasnogorov would hold up his phone to a joint or a pipe and show them a problem had been fixed, without having to schedule an in-person visit.
No skilled labor shortage
One reason 2020 Street of Dream's was cancelled was because even though Governor Brown deemed construction an essential industry, "trade stacking" was not allowed This is when different tradespeople overlap in a space to get work done in a timely manner. This year stacking was allowed, hence the scene in the weeks before opening. Krasnogorov said there was no shortage of skilled workers on these three projects because his contractors have deep relationships with their subs and prioritize work for Red Hills.
Jock of all trades
The most impressive of the three Red Hills homes is called Zion, House Number 3. It belongs to a former football player who is now in "sports entertainment." That's all the developer would say. This 7,300 square foot, five bed, five-and-a-half bath Tuscan-style farmhouse certainly manages to balance the jock life with the princess lifestyle. There's an indoor half court for basketball, a media room like an airport club lounge for watching big games, with a 100-inch Sony TV and wet bar, and an outdoor swimming pool. His wife is a chef and has a large, open kitchen adjoining the dining room. In the son's room, there are three live-edge wooden shelves display the kid's sneaker collection, and the painters were applying glitter to the daughter's black ceiling in advance of the chandelier being installed. There is also a sleepover room with a big screen, four bunks and two trundle beds for epic gaming nights.
House Number One, called Hygge (cozy) belongs to a family who are upgrading from Sellwood. It includes a prayer room and a sophisticated window seat for viewing the garden. The interior designer, Tiffany Thompson from Duett Interiors is a former Nike executive. She uses Brutalism, wabi-sabi and Minimalism to evoke coziness, and even hid the home gym behind a secret door.
House Number Two, called Ohana (family), was built for Hawaiian-Americans, and is ADA compliant down to the curbless shower stall.
There are folding glass doors for better appreciating the plants and a five-car garage. Remarkably for a 3,800 square foot home, it is all buit on one level.
Pleasant Valley Villages at 11878 SE Bridal Veil Falls Place is more of a standard suburban development. Pale plywood homes rise all along the road, which already has bike lanes painted on it. Eventually there will be around 1,000 new homes here. From the bedroom of one of the Holt show homes you can see the contours of the old golf course that will be home to a private community center and public park.
(This site will also showcase Relevant Building Company's container home and sleeping pods, which are tiny homes aimed at the homeless.)
As Lizzie Levin, the marketer with Holt Homes, said, "An advantage to being a home builder, as well as the land developers, is we really get to be thoughtful about how we map out a community, what amenities we build on the land."
Parks are essential now, especially as people working from home want a place to stretch their legs and walk their dogs.
"The world has changed a lot over the course of the last year and that has changed work dynamics and the way people use their spaces," said Levin.
These Holt homes are often staged with a home office or gym instead of an extra bedroom.
Local jurisdictions require a certain density, however, and there are limits on how homebuilders use the space of a 40-by-70 or -100 foot lot. Holt can leave a wall off one of the upstairs rooms to create a quiet family area, a kind of a second TV room in a house with competing screens. Cars are garaged behind the homes to make them more feel more villagey. Across an empty patch of land is a "tot lot" or a park for preschoolers, plus a few benches for caregivers/ laptop workers. For Holt it's time to show off the different finishes a buyer can select for their new home, perhaps inspired by the three mega-homes just a shuttle bus ride away.
"We construct our homes special to the Pacific Northwest, the character, the land and the dynamics of our climate," said Levin. "We really understand what it is to have a home that's going to have lasting value because it was built right and built right for here."
NW Natural Street of Dreams 2021 is at two locations instead of the usual one.
WHERE: Heritage Crest (12500 SE Mt. Scott Blvd) showcases homes in the $1.5 million to $3 million range. Pleasant Valley Villages (11878 SE Bridal Veil Falls Place) will showcase homes in the $550,000 to $650,000 range.
Heritage Crest (12500 SE Mt. Scott Blvd) will showcase homes in the $1.5 million to $3 million range. Pleasant Valley Villages (11878 SE Bridal Veil Falls Place) will showcase homes in the $550,000 to $650,000 range. Primary parking for Heritage Crest is at Happy Valley Nursery half mile away from Heritage Crest. Parking for Pleasant Valley Villages is onsite. On weekends there will be a shuttle between PVV and Heritage Crest. Food and drink vendors at both sites.
WHEN: July 31 to August 22, 2021, 10 am to 9pm. Wednesdays through Sundays. Ticket office closes at 7:30 pm, allow at least two hours to enjoy the show.
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