Portland’s largest micro-apartment building is back on the market.

The Freedom Center, a 150-unit development in the Pearl District, failed to sell the last time it was available two years ago. But the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield plans to announce a call for best offers Sept. 8, and company representatives say they believe institutional investors are interested this time, a sign that the market for tiny micro-apartments in Portland could be maturing.

“Two years ago, [a micro-apartment project] wasn’t as well received as today,” said Gary Griff, who is handling the sale out of Cushman & Wakefield’s Portland office. “The market’s matured, and there’s more of the micro-units being developed. And the proof is in the results. The property is 96, 97 percent leased at all times.”

This is the Pearl District’s Freedom Center apartment complex: a 150-unit, all-studio development. 

The building, located at 1430 N.W. Pettygrove St., is composed entirely of studio units, many smaller than 300 square feet. A sale of the Freedom Center, which opened in 2012, would be the first in the nation for a micro-apartment building of its size, Griff claims.

Pete Shelton, a senior director in the firm’s Seattle office, said his team has been marketing the property since July.

“We have broad interest,” Shelton said. “In fact, very broad interest. And that’s not a surprise. … If you want to live in the Pearl but don’t want to pay market-rate rents, this is an affordable option.”

Average rents at the Freedom Center run between $1,000 and $1,100 per month, Griff said.

New rents in the building rose by more than 10 percent over previous leases in July. But they remain well below the competition in the Pearl.

The real estate website Zillow calculated the median rent for all homes in the 97209 ZIP code to be nearly $2,000 in July.

Griff said he thinks micro-apartment buildings will continue to be built in the Portland area, too.

“There’s a definite niche, a place for them. … There’s going to be more, for sure,” Griff said. “Obviously, they’re filling a need if they’re staying full.”

Other examples of micro-apartment complexes built or proposed in Portland include Bridgeway Realty Resources’ 75-unit project on Mt. Tabor and Footprint Investments’ developments in Northwest Portland and Hollywood.

— Luke Hammill

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