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Artists Lose Leases As District Grows Trendier


Joni Kabana in her 4th floor studio at Towne Storage.

Joni Kabana in her 4th floor studio at Towne Storage.

April Baer/OPB

Artists and other businesses are preparing to move out of a long-time haven in Southeast Portland.

Tenants of Towne Storage in the Central Eastside Industrial Distict say the building’s management has asked them to leave in November. The area is on the cusp of a rebuild of the Burnside bridgehead.

Its location in the center of town and sweeping city views have made it a valuable target for developers. The Towne Storage building has been home to booksellers, printers, a creative agency, and others.

Photographer Joni Kabana works in Portland, New York and the developing world. She’s maintained a studio space at Towne Storage for 10 years and said she’s been getting a very favorable rate for the space: about $1 per square foot.

“And that,” Kabana said, “was one reason why I decided I wanted to stay. There were a couple of times I thought I’d stay in New York City. I decided to stay here and commute back and forth.”

Now, Kabana is one of dozens of businesses trying to nail down a new studio space.

One of the building’s owners declined to comment, but said more details would be available soon. In addition to artists’ space, the building houses a document archive service and personal storage spaces.

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