One of the things I loved most about Portland when I first came here in 2006 was that there were no crowds. I mean anywhere.
You could park right in front of a movie theater five minutes before the show started and by the way, you didn’t have to feed a meter or anything.
So I moved here. Along with like 47,000 other people.
And like most of them –– and all of the people who were here before I got here –– I like to complain about how crowded it’s become.
Which it has, but let’s be honest, it’s still nothing like LA or New York. With a few notable exceptions, one of them being Peacock Lane the week before Christmas.
Peacock Lane is Southeast 40th Avenue between Belmont and Stark, which makes it about four blocks long, but since there are no cross streets on SE 40th between Belmont and Stark, it’s really just a lonnnnnnnnng block. 48 weeks out of the year, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about Peacock Lane. It’s just another street with really pretty houses, walking distance to Belmont, Hawthorne, Laurelhurst Park, Mt. Tabor, and Division.
What makes this block special is that the houses on that block go all out with their Christmas decorations. And I mean all out.
It’s a tradition that started back in the 1920s (the name was officially changed from SE 40th to Peacock Lane on November 7, 1923) and there are a couple of things that make it so very Portland.
In real estate, we come across things called covenants, which are things you’re required to do if you buy a place. And you would think, especially since Peacock Lane is on the US National Register of Historic Places, that there’d be a covenant that makes you decorate your house if you live there. But no. People move there because they want to decorate. Nobody tells you that you have to.
Another thing that makes it totally Portland is that a lot of times, when someone buys a home there, the people selling the home will pass their decorations along to the new buyers.
But like I said, one of the things that makes it so very not like Portland is holy crap, it’s crowded! At least for the second half of December. The cops block off the street to car traffic now, which I guess makes it even more Portland. If you live on Peacock Lane and you have an emergency at 5:30 on a December evening –– like you’ve run out of kombucha or something –– you’re sure as heck not getting in your car to get more. I mean, not like you have to. There’s a Wallgreen’s right down at the end of the block where, yes, let time I checked they sell kombucha. There’s also a weed dispensary around the corner which used to be this place called Immortal Piano –– broke my heart when it closed because with a name like Immortal Piano…
If it’s a cocktail emergency, you’re staggering distance from several good spots, including the Aalto lounge, where their happy hour is the stuff of legend. From 5:00 to 7:00 you can get a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of tomato soup for $3! On the way there, you’ll pass a Stumptown Coffee and a Tao of Tea, so pretty much, it’s a neighborhood with everything.
Best of all is Movie Madness, the neighborhood video store. And yes, there’s still a neighborhood with a neighborhood video store, but calling Movie Madness a video store is like calling the Louvre a building with some nice paintings inside.
Movie Madness has a more extensive collection of arcane cinema than any of the places I used to frequent when I was working as a director in New York or LA. They break things down not just by genre and director, but also country and style. You want to binge French caper films from the 1970s, they can totally hook you up.
So I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Well, Brian, that’s all super interesting. Do houses on Peacock Lane cost more than equivalent houses a block or so away?”
It’s a tough comparison to make because in the past four years, only four houses on Peacock Lane were sold. Those sales took six times as long to close, but the houses went for about 15% more per square foot than houses in the immediately surrounding area.
What that says to me is that Peacock Lane is a neighborhood for a special kind of person. But that person is willing to pay more in order to get to live there.
Got any other real estate (or film) questions? I’m at 310-854-2458.