Downtown Portland office space is home to a range of established firms and technology companies that have given Portland a sparsely-used “Silicon Forest” nickname. Tech companies based in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Seattle flock to Portland to set up new company offices, transforming nineteenth-century banks into dazzling tech outposts.
But Downtown Portland is more than a collection of historic properties transformed into hip office spaces. Downtown is a cultural mecca, home to over a dozen performance venues. It’s also home to iconic Portland sights, like the original VooDoo Donuts, Portlandia’s “Keep Portland Weird” mural, and the open-air Portland Saturday. If you’re searching for an ideal location to set up a Portland office, here’s everything you need to know about Downtown Portland.
Downtown Portland Office Space | Lease Data & Trends
Downtown Portland is a popular choice for commercial tenants as it holds the city’s greatest concentration of Class A properties. Portland’s Central Business District contains nearly 15 million square feet of Class A office space, almost half of the total Class A square footage in Portland and its surrounding suburbs.
Despite Downtown Portland’s density of Class A office space, increased demand has continued to push office rents to record highs. In the Central Business District, which includes Downtown Portland, Class A rents increased a notable 11.6 percent year-over-year.
In 2018, Class A asking rates for properties in Downtown Portland blew past the previous year’s average of $35 per square foot. Now, the average asking price for Class A space in downtown hovers around $39 per square foot.
While Downtown remains the core commercial hub, tech companies and design firms are starting to value Inner Eastside and Northwest locations above traditional Downtown properties. For Class A properties in Portland’s Inner Eastside, just across the river from Downtown, office spaces rent for close to $43 per square foot. Comparatively, asking rents for Class A office space for lease in Northwest Portland averages $42 per square foot.
To stay competitive with neighboring commercial areas, many buildings in Downtown Portland are either recently renovated, freshly remodeled, or newly built. For companies that want to prioritize access to transportation, urban amenities, and proximity to other businesses, Downtown remains a popular choice for companies: the rent is slightly cheaper than trending Eastside and Northwest commercial spaces, and choosing a property in Downtown promises a wealth of property options.
What Brokers Say About Downtown Portland Office Space for Rent
What kind of companies are leasing office space in Downtown Portland? The 25+ million square feet of commercial office space in Downtown Portland is filled with employees working on innovative advertising campaigns, testing new technology, revolutionizing the world of banking, and more.
Within Downtown’s borders, major commercial tenants include: Intuit-owned Expensify, HR communications startup Guidespark, homestay giant Airbnb, and database management company Oracle.
For many of these companies, Downtown Portland was an easy choice. Why? The wealth of historic properties that are amenable to custom renovation. When Expensify established their Portland location, the company selected a historical bank property that was over 100 years old. While Expensify updated the space to include collaboration areas, an open floor plan, and modern technology, the company kept original bank “vaults and added hidden rooms and floating offices to create a unique, inspiring workspace.”
Similarly, website company Squarespace elected to move into Portland’s Spalding Building. Like Expensify, Squarespace decided to keep the original vault doors that remained from the building’s origins as Oregon Bank. Yet the space’s modern design includes a few upgrades such as a stylish open kitchen, hip plant walls, cozy nooks for concentrated focus and small meetings, and a dining room that features floor to ceiling windows.
The Blagen Block Building is another historic Downtown Portland property made modern. In 2014, Airbnb opened an operational headquarters in Downtown Portland in this old cast iron building. The company transformed the old Blagen Block Building into a hip corporate space that “redefines a traditional customer service call-center.”
Companies thrive when they can offer innovative, flexible workspaces to their employees. Downtown Portland offers a wealth of historic properties that are ready to be transformed into spaces that feel unique. The result? Downtown Portland will remain a popular choice for commercial tenants even as markets evolve in years to come.
Getting to, From, and Around Downtown Portland
Locals who live and work in Downtown Portland enjoy a well-connected infrastructure of streetcars, buses, and bike paths. Portland boasts the nation’s highest percentage of bike commuters, at 7.2%, which means over 17,000 workers commute by bike. Bus lines, too, connect commuters from every part of the city to Downtown. Popular lines include Trimet lines 15, 2, 4, 20, and 14. Additionally, rail lines connect Downtown Portland to suburbs and distant locations, including the Portland International Airport. TriMet’s Red Line ushers visitors straight from the airport to Downtown Portland in under 35 minutes.
Get to Know Downtown Portland
While Downtown stays busy with office activity from 9-5, don’t be surprised if you see employees lingering in the neighborhood after hours. Off-the-clock, Downtown visitors and locals stay in the neighborhood to take advantage of some of the city’s best happy hours at spots like Bamboo Sushi, where you can find rolls for $2-$4, Shift Drinks, where $3 pints are available all day, and Little Bird Bistro, where you can taste famous chef Gabriel Rucker’s double brie burger for $7.
In addition to its strong food and drink scene, Downtown offers its residents access to some of Portland’s favorite landmarks. If you’re a bookworm, make sure to visit Powell’s City of Books. If you enjoy outdoor recreation, spend the evening walking or biking along the Waterfront Park. And if you love live music, visit one of Downtown’s many concert venues, like the Crystal Ballroom or the Roseland Theater.
As an area with so many social options, it’s easy to see why companies and individuals alike are happy to call Portland’s Downtown home.