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A Case Study Of Demolitions: Laurelhurst Neighborhood

The result of these demolitions has been that the average replacement house was +149% larger (2.5X times larger) than the original demolished house, and the average replacement house cost +148% more (2.5X times more) than the original demolished house.

A reader asked if similar data has been located for Laurelhurst. After all, some people claim (misleadingly) that there have been "no", or only "four", demolitions in our neighborhood.

Here's what we have learned. In just the past several years, over 30 houses have been demolished in Laurelhurst. That includes both officially recognized demolitions and "demolitions by loophole". The "loophole" is that for decades, a developer didn't need to get a demolition permit as long as a small part of the original house remained standing (even just part of one wall) and even if the new house looks nothing like the original house. Many houses in our neighborhood have been effectively demolished through this loophole and don't appear on the city's official demolition list.

In the chart below, we've included only 23 of those houses. These are houses for which we have full data, including the original house's price and the new house's value. Here is the summary:

The average price of the original house was $355,700. After the demolition, the new house's price was $884,200, or +149% higher (2.5X times higher).

The original price is the blue line; the new price is the red line.

From this Laurelhurst case study, and the Beaumont-Wilshire study, it is clear that when developers demolish a neighborhood's original houses and build new houses:

Smaller, more affordable houses are destroyed

The replacement houses are very large and very expensive

Families who could have afforded the original house, are no longer able to buy the new house

The neighborhood becomes more expensive, less inclusive, less diverse

More about this in a future post.

Specific examples? We are not including the individual houses' addresses in this post, for obvious privacy reasons. However, some of the demolitions are already well known in the neighborhood, so we'll show photos, without addresses, of those.


Original. This bungalow was purchased by a developer in 2013 for $390,000. That house was attainable for a wide range of Portland families, young and old. But it is hard to compete with a developer's all cash offer.

Replacement. The original house was "demolished by loophole" (part of a wall was retained) and the new house was sold for $900,000. The new house is now affordable to only a small percent of Portlanders.


Original. This original Laurelhurst cottage was purchased by a developer in 2015 for $360,000.

Replacement. The original house was demolished and a 3,400 square foot house built. The new house sold for $1,200,000.

Another original, attainable house ripped and replaced by a very expensive house.

Original. This 1916 eyebrow cottage on Cesar Chavez was purchased by a developer for $610,00 in 2014.

Replacement. The lot was split and two houses were built, each selling for over $900,000.

When two new housing units can be built, even a higher priced original house can be profitably demolished.

The Residential Infill Project will permit two housing units on every lot in Laurelhurst.

Original. A current developer project in Laurelhurst includes cutting down a 100 year old sequoia tree.

It isn't just our houses that are demolished when a neighborhood is re-developed.

Replacement. The new infill house will be over 4000 square feet and priced at $1,300,000.

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