Developer: Portland housing market remains strong

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PORTLAND — The city’s housing market is good, even great, according to developer Greg Shinberg. You just have to build what people want.

“The downtown market for condominiums in Portland is still very good,” Shinberg said, as he led a tour of one of the two-bedroom condos at his most recent project, 135 Sheridan St. Shinberg’s business partner is state Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, who lives across the street from the new building.

The complex, which was completed in fall 2009, sold out two weeks ago. The 21 condos were in a range of prices, from one-bedrooms for $200,000 to large, two-story units for more than $500,000.

“There’s a better market for projects like this, the mid-sized buildings,” Shinberg said.

He said each condo was custom-built for the buyer; in some cases, two condos were turned into one, fireplaces were added and walls knocked out.

“We tried to make it like 21 custom homes,” he said.

In addition to a view of the bay and the skyline, each condo has a private deck, storage unit, and parking in a heated garage. Shinberg said part of the building’s success was its design and marketing plan, but that Portland’s strong market, too.

While other areas of the country continue to struggle with foreclosures and weak housing markets, Portland seems to be faring better, he said.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sale price of condominiums during the third quarter of 2010 in greater Portland rose 3.4 percent. However, unlike some areas, throughout the recession, prices remained relatively high in Portland.

In 2007, the median condo sale price was $198,000 and only dipped to a low of $176,900 during the third quarter of 2009. By comparison, in Phoenix, Ariz., the median sale price for condos dropped from $186,300 in 2007 to $73,300 at the end of 2010.

Single-family homes in Portland have had more fluctuation, but also have stayed relatively high, ending only $15,600 lower in median price at the end of 2010 than they were in 2007.

“Portland is still a very desirable place to live,” Shinberg said. “It’s big enough, but feels small enough.”

He said developments like 135 Sheridan St. and his 645 Congress St. building, the old Portland Hall, which was converted to apartments and sold out last year, are representative of what people are looking for now.

“In the late ’90s, Portland was having trouble attracting young professionals because there were no affordable living spaces,” Shinberg said.

Shinberg said he hopes buildings like his help keep young professionals in the area, which in turn will help draw new businesses.

“Businesses want to locate where they can attract the best help,” he said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or

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The recently sold-out condominium building at 135 Sheridan St. in Portland. Developer Greg Shinberg said the building is indicative of a strong market in Portland and he believes buildings like this one will attract young professionals and, therefore, new businesses.