Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Keep Portland Annoying

Pittsburgh is on the hipster migration map. Portland is over, which is good news for the regional economy. The Washington Post throws dirt on Portland's self-important urbanity:

“Portland has overextended its welcome as the destination for hipsters who want to find themselves, while frolicking in beautiful scenery and reasonable rents,” says Hesse. “Pittsburgh is reasonable-rents, nice scenery, nice downtown, and the people are, in general, just far less insufferable.”

Pittsburgh is Portland with jobs and ambition. Monica Hesse didn't say that. I did. In fact, I've written that Portland could use a few more people from Rust Belt cities such as Pittsburgh:

That Rust Belt work ethic is a competitive edge in hip Portland. The best and brightest leaving states such as Ohio are rock stars wherever they go. They compete. They thrive. They propel the city forward. Not all members of the Creative Class are like this. If you want a dynamo, then recruit graduates from Big 10 universities.

There's a caveat to the magical demographic. It's the talent that leaves that is most desirable. Those who move the furtherest from home are the entrepreneurs that Portland needs. Ideally, they come from Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Shrinking cities don't produce many Peter Pans. That's particularly true in the hearth of Rust Belt Chic.

But everyone knows how great Portland is. Few, even the people who live there, appreciate Pittsburgh. As the commercial real estate market demonstrates, that's changed:

After years of often being uncharted territory for large out-of-town and institutional investors, Pittsburgh’s commercial real estate began seeing new interest from different kinds of buyers in 2011 as evidenced by the biggest sales for the year. ...

... PPG Place was snapped up by a publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust, North Carolina-based Highwoods Properties Inc., which stretched beyond its geographic territory and out of its suburban strategy to acquire a trophy Downtown building. Perhaps more eyebrow-raising to some, the sale of 11 Stanwix, a former Westinghouse headquarters now occupied by First Niagara, was acquired by a German investment fund, Munich-based GLL Real Estate Partners for $66 million, a deal with some observers noted marked a rare foray for a European firm to buy an American office property outside first-tier metros such as New York, Chicago or Los Angeles.

Emphasis added. Pittsburgh is no longer "uncharted territory". That's key for migration. We go where we know, even if it is annoying.

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