Portland, Oregon’s St. Johns and Foster-Powell Neighborhoods are Clearly Places to Be

Risa Davis, a managing broker with Dwell Realty, pointed out two of Portland’s most popular neighborhoods.

Real estate pro Risa Davis has been living in Portland for the past 42 years, and she certainly recommends her city.

Portland, she explained, is a city whose people love neighborhoods and love walking. An avid white water rafter, Davis pointed to the many opportunities to get out and enjoy nature as a major reason for residents to remain in the city, from the coast being less than a two-hour drive away to the skiing opportunities at Mount Hood.

“Everything for an outdoors person is here,” she said. “Subaru is the number one selling car. No joke whatsoever.”

Davis, a managing broker with Dwell Realty, has been working in real estate for 16 years and has a background in historic properties.

“We are a boutique agency,” she said of Dwell Realty. “One of the things I do love about our company is we are the only African American-owned real estate agency in Portland. Christopher Guinn III is our owner and I just can’t say enough.”

The Rose City has seen a major shift in its housing market from last year.

“I would say last year you couldn’t get into houses,” Davis said. “It’s calmed down quite a bit, the market has here. It’s pretty flatlined. It didn’t dip much, but it’s pretty flatlined, where last year it was multiple bids on houses and everybody standing in line for the next house to come on the market.” She added that newbies who move to Portland from California and New York often aren’t fazed by housing prices, but if you’re coming from the Midwest, “it’s really hard for people to fathom the difference in the prices of the housing comparatively.”

When it comes to Portland’s hottest neighborhoods, Davis points to two: St. Johns and Foster-Powell. St. Johns is a 10-minute drive from downtown Portland, while Foster-Powell is usually between a 15 to 20-minute drive to downtown depending on your route, she said.

A major draw for the St. Johns neighborhood is its character, Davis said. For one, there are several boutique shops and restaurants. Then there’s the area’s history.

“It’s the furthest north neighborhood that you can get to before going into Washington, but at the same time, it is still only 10 minutes from downtown,” she said. “The trifecta part of that is that it has a historic downtown district. St. Johns used to be its own city, so it has the historic post office. It has the historic courthouse. Those kinds of things still exist in this downtown core area which has turned into this great business district.”

Davis noted how people in Portland enjoy being able to walk to everything, “and that’s what St. Johns has to offer,” she said. She noted that the St. Johns neighborhood was “built around the ship and lumber industry” and features “just very simple, smaller homes.”

Foster-Powell is similar to St. Johns in terms of its simple housing.

“Foster-Powell is kind of the same way,” Davis said. “Smaller houses, not a lot of grandness there. She added that “housing is still smaller, affordable and up and coming, so it needs a little bit of work, but it’s a great neighborhood.”

The City of Portland, Davis said, requires that new apartment builds in certain quarters have retail on the bottom level.

“Foster-Powell is one of those quarters where everything that comes onto Foster-Powell has retail on the bottom and then apartments on the top,” Davis said, “So that’s bringing in restaurants. A friend of ours who’s a brewer opened Zoiglhaus, a German-style brewery out there in that neighborhood, and that’s starting to get a little bit of a hub right around it.”

Her advice to anyone looking to move to Portland is straightforward: rent first and get to know the city before you buy.

“I would plan on renting for a while and then visiting all the neighborhoods that are here within that rental period and figure out what is going to be a good fit for you,” she said. She added that “if you’re going to move here, there’s a specific neighborhood that’s going to fit you really well. So come on over and visit Portland.”