My Oum Private Idaho, Drugstore Covboy, but it now encompasses some of the most coveted real estate in the city (Van Sant, who divides his time between Portland and New “fork, recendy purchased a sprawling apartment in the area.) “In the early Nineties it was just squatters and broke artists living in the Pearl District,” says Susan Tompkins, who moved from Los Angeles to Pbrtland in 1994 and opened what is now the city’s reigning hip boutique, Odessa, in the neighbor hood.
A sleek, minimalist space where the racks are hung with labels that include Martin, Development, Jane Mayle and lony Smith, Odessa would be very much at home in New ’&rk’s NoLIta or L.A’s Los Feliz. Tompkins readily admits that only lately has there been a market for her wares in Portland. “Ten years ago, I don’t know if a store like this could have existed,” she says. “But the city has devel oped so much recendy, particularly this section of town. These days you’d be hard pressed to find an artist who can afford to live here.” Indeed, rents in the neighborhood have quadrupled during the last decade (they now average $20 per square foot).
The cavernous lofts that once played host to artists’ soccer games and strung out runaways are being transformed into gleaming, well planned retail and gallery spaces. Jane Beebe, owner of the cut ting edge PDX Gallery, says, “The great thing about Portland is that even though it’s changed a lot över the last 10 years, it didn’t have the kind of instantaneous flood of money that Seatde had, so it’s developed in a much more natural, organic fashion. The money hasn’t erased its soul.”