Suburbs often get a bum rap. Especially in the Portland Metro area, the usual stereotypes – sleepy, homogeneous, isolating, and stodgy – may not hold up. Take Beaverton, for example. Granted, it’s an incorporated city and has been since 1893. But in the Metro context, it’s a de facto suburb of Portland. Here are 5 ways this west side community defies stereotypes.
1. It’s not a “bedroom” community
With a population of about 97,000, Beaverton is home to one of 3 Fortune 500 companies based in Oregon. An engine of growth and creativity, Nike draws people to its corporate campus from around the Metro area, the country, and the world. Just a stone’s throw away, Tektronix is also a top local employer. So Beaverton is a place where Metro residents sleep and work. There’s plenty of life in the city throughout the day.
2. It’s not WASP-ville
In ranking Beaverton #12 on its 2017 list of the top 100 places to live in America, Money cautioned readers not to think of it “as just another cookie-cutter suburb.” The magazine cited its lively restaurant scene and one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the Portland area. (The two are probably linked.)
People of color account for 51.3 percent of Beaverton School District’s population and constitute the majority in a Census tract surrounding the Terpenning Recreation Complex on Walker Road.
3. It supports public spaces…and community
Historically, suburbs have been seen as green havens from crowded cities. Big houses on big lots are private parks of a kind. But Beaverton is just as committed to preserving public green spaces as its much bigger neighbor to the east. It has 30 miles of hiking trails, a 25-mile network of bike paths, and 100 parks covering 1000 acres or one within a half mile of every home. The city partners with the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District to offer classes and activities in 8 swim centers, 6 recreation centers and green spaces.
In summertime, for example, families congregate in City Park. Its fountains cool off kids, the adjoining parking lot is home to a farmer’s market, and the gracious City Library is just across the street.
3. Its real estate market is among the hottest in the Metro area
There’s nothing sleepy about Beaverton’s housing market. It looms large in the “hottest ‘hoods” rankings compiled by Portland Business Journal. Metro area zip codes are tracked against three criteria: 1) volume of home sales, 2) speed of sales and 3) average sale price. The three measures are then weighted equally to determine the hottest overall.
At $436,400 in January of this year, the average Metro sale price is almost 19 percent higher than Beaverton’s, which stood at $367,600. While keeping it out of the top ranks for that measure, the city’s affordability attracts buyers. So it’s well-represented across 3 of 4 categories for 2017.
|Volume of sales||Speed of sales||Average sale price||Hottest overall|
|#3 – 97007|
#9 – 97006
|#1 – 97006|
#3 – 97003
#5 – 97005
#25 – 97007
|N/A||#8 – 97007
#11 – 97006
#21 – 97008
#27 – 97003
#39 – 97005
Beaverton also stands out among the “most in demand” neighborhoods tracked by OregonLive. The number of homes for sale at the end of December are compared to how many sold during the last quarter of the year. Zip codes within or crossing the city’s boundaries claimed 5 of 15 top spots in 2017.
- #1 – 97008
- #5 – 97005
- #7 – 97006
- #9 – 97007
- #10 – 97003
5. It has a large share of the Metro area’s edgy Rummer homes
Though some neighborhoods have a uniform look and feel, there’s a lot of variety in Beaverton’s housing stock, especially in the city center (97005). And it’s home to many examples of an experiment with affordable Mid-Century Modern design that has stood the test of time. Named after the local developer whose wife admired California Eichlers and encouraged him to build spin-offs in Portland, Rummers are distinguished by:
- Exposed vertical posts supporting exposed horizontal beams
- In turn, sturdy post and beam construction supports an asymmetrical mix of flat and pitched roofs, vaulted ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows – with little help from interior walls
- Open plan layouts oriented to atriums and the backyard
- “Buttoned-up” facades that have no picture windows or porches
- Clean lines and minimal orientation
Vista Brook (SW 84th to SW 87th off Garden Home Rd in 97223) is said to have the most Rummers of any neighborhood in the Metro area. But with 4 Rummer enclaves, Beaverton may have more of these homes than Portland.
- Oak Hills neighborhood just north of Highway 26 (97006)
- Denney-Whitford just east of Highway 217 along SW 105th (97008)
- Menlo West along SW Bonnie Brae St and Ct (97005)
- Hyland Hills north of Hart Rd along SW 130th Ave (97008)
In doing the research for this posting, I came across an anecdotal report that Nike creatives are overrepresented among Rummer homeowners today. It doesn’t surprise me. I also walked the 4th enclave, which consists of 3 large cul-de-sacs flanked by Taliesen Park. Donated by Rummer when he built the development in 1966, its 1.5 acres are home to towering Doug Firs – quite the backyard.
It also doesn’t surprise me that Rummers – though very affordable for Modernist architecture – command a premium in the marketplace. Back at my desk, I discovered that they have sold for about 30 percent more than other homes in the Taliesen neighborhood over the past 3 years and about 5 times faster, averaging just 6 days on the market (DOM).
All in all, Beaverton is a pretty good place to call home.