Great views and some of the best brunch in town attract families to the Overlook and Arbor Lodge neighborhoods in North Portland.
Unique views of the Willamette River, Fremont Bridge, rail yards and Forest Park from the bluffs are just one of the perks for families who live in the Overlook and Arbor Lodge neighborhoods. New residents will find eco-conscious neighbors working to preserve the area’s natural beauty. Right now, neighbors are mobilizing to protect a 200-year old heritage white oak tree that’s a local landmark.
Overlook, with its larger homes and proximity to the University of Portland campus, is the more expensive area, while there are still some housing bargains to be had around growing Arbor Lodge. The average sale price across both areas is just below $365,000.
“There are a lot of sweet gems, but they go quickly,” says Liz Brooks, owner of Button, a consignment shop for gently used women’s and children’s clothes on N. Interstate. Brooks and her husband have called Arbor Lodge home for the past eight years and are raising their two young boys there.
Home buyers will find a mix of modest early 20th-century bungalows, Portland four-squares and Cape Cods, as well as newer construction. Many older homes have been renovated to meet modern standards while more dilapidated houses have been torn down to make way for new construction. The newer homes, when suited to the style of the neighborhood, add value, says Brooks.
Beach School, a K-8, dual-immersion, Spanish-English program, is the neighborhood school for Overlook families. Residents of Arbor Lodge attend the dual-campus Chief Joseph/Ockley Green K-8, with K-3 students at Chief Joseph and fourth through eighth grades at nearby Ockley Green. Both schools feed into Jefferson High School.
Two free public charter schools with admission through lottery are close by. Portland Village Public Charter School is a Waldorf-inspired, arts-integrated K-8 school. The K-12 Trillium Public Charter School offers a constructivist approach to education and houses a fee-based preschool program.
Overlook and Arbor Lodge families are close to several parks, including Peninsula Park Community Center and Pool. Ethos, a nonprofit music center founded in 1998, offers classes and camps for children ages 2 and older. Smartypants, a cool new open art studio for kids, opened in July on N. Montana.
Hungry families have their pick of grocery stores with a Fred Meyer, New Seasons and the first Green Zebra Grocery, a smaller-scale shopping experience for health-conscious consumers looking for convenience.
Brooks notes that The Arbor Lodge, a coffee and community space, is kid-friendly, and that one of the best brunch places in town, Sweedeedee’s, is just a five-minute bike ride away. (Though beware of long waits there on weekends.)
Trimet bus service and the Interstate MAX line run through both neighborhoods, providing quick access to the Lloyd district and downtown for families and commuters alike. “We love having MAX so close,” says Brooks. “We can pile onto the MAX without worrying about parking downtown, and the ride is part of the fun for the kids.”
Cyclists can map their way downtown on designated bike routes, and commuters choosing to drive have speedy access to I-5, just east of both neighborhoods.
photos: heather lee leap
Heather Lee Leap lives in NE Portland, where she enjoys reading, cooking meals from scratch, and spending time in nature. In an attempt to diffuse conflict in her home, she sometimes shouts absurdities such as “The Great and Powerful Mom has spoken!” She refuses to have pets on the grounds that three children and one husband are enough.