Is Old town/Chinatown a good place to live? Is it safe?

Asked by Gati, Portland, OR Thu May 15, 2008

I've heard that this are is up and coming but what you see on the streets does not indicate this. I know is not the pearl but is it as bad as its reputation? I am considering buying a loft on 4th and Flanders but I am getting mixed advise from poeple.

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Brian Ramsay, , 97209
Thu May 15, 2008
Hi Gati,

Old Towntown/China Town is a part of town that is undergoing a lot of redevelopment currently. I would refer to the site below for all the changes. Right now there have been reports of violence and drug crimes on the news and actually does have a larger traffic of transients as one of the community food pantries is located within Old Town (Ballard House across the street from Flanders). I strongly believe in this area and think that all the things the city is doing such as transportation, store fronts etc... are positive steps to a healthier neighborhood. Also remember, that a transient population isn't equal to crime (most crimes that I've heard of are committed by people who are drinking at local bars). If you are considering moving into the Flanders Street Lofts, I would simply talk to a couple of homeowners that already live there and see what they have to say. Trust me people love to talk.

As a Realtor, I think the building is great and there are some great deals in there right now. If you are familiar with urban settings I would say go for it, you will thank yourself 5 years down the road.

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Best of Luck,

Brian Ramsay
Principal Broker
Condos, Lofts and Townhome
Realty Trust Group Inc.
1 vote
June Lizotte,…, , Portland, OR
Thu May 15, 2008
For a realtor to answer the question "Is this a safe neighborhood?" puts them in the category of potentially opening themself up to disciplinary action and possible loss of license depending on their answer, because our 'opinion' of or 'direction to' a safe or good place to live is not to be promoted; it's known as steering. The only place we can direct you to is public records such as or other watchdog sites and agencies that report crime stats. Any direction other than providing you with resources to check it out yourself (which is buyer's obligation under Oregon Real Estate Law) would be giving a buyer ample reason to come back on them legally if at a later time something happens to you because you chose to move in and then later remembered a realtor's recommendation.

Here's a friendly reminder as you respond to questions like this- for what it's worth. Simply being an agent who sells in a certain area or who lives in a certain area doesn't give a green light to give promotion of or discouragement against a buyer who is wondering about moving into that area. This line gets crossed all the time and the disciplinary records at the Real Estate Agency in Salem show how serious an offense this is. We can, however, make up for not being able to provide opinions; it's more work, but we can provide resources for buyers. For instance , I provide a list of resources and research sites and phone numbers for each buyer client when this question comes up to me personally. I also refer to some of these resources on my web site for clients to link to. That way I have served them well and stayed within the confines of license regs.
1 vote
Dirk Knudsen, Agent, Hillsboro, OR
Thu May 15, 2008
Not a great area. Never has been.

Perfect locattion but High Crime. I have witnessed a lot of Tar Heroin trade and we have been hassled there quite a lot. In a big City like Portland with a growing homeless population it is pretty clear the problem is going to get worse and the politics in Portland dictate that they will continue to tolerate this.

If the loft is 30% less maybe. That and carry protection after Dark.

For me I would weigh and balance things. The facts are there so go to the Police Department and ask them for the data on that area.

I say Go Pearl or University area.

Good Luck;

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1 vote
Brock.peter, Home Buyer, Portland, OR
Fri May 31, 2013
I am not an agent and have no interest or motivation in telling you anything that I do not firmly believe. I would stay the hell away from this area. This area is homeless and addict central and there are more and more businesses leaving because of the problems. If you look at this site ( you can see that where you are thinking of buying is right in the middle of their resources. Plus, Portland refuses to consider moving them somewhere else and the street people now think they own the sidewalks, etc., and are entitled to everything. I would not let anyone I cared about walk down there alone at night and I don't even do so and I am 6'3 250#'s. It is also terrible in the mornings as the homeless who sleep down by the river get woken up by the police and all drift into this area to get fed, get treatments, etc. I am there at least once a week as I love the Chinese Garden which unfortunately for it is in the middle of all of this junk. There are other affordable and safer places to live and buy. Also, even if it were safe, you are at least 5 or 6 blocks from anything like a decent grocery store.
0 votes
Deb Counts-T…, Agent, Portland, OR
Thu May 15, 2008
It's always good to check out - it will give you VERY detailed crime stats (along with everything else!). If it's a good neighborhood or not also depends on your "fit" - I know many people who absolutely love living downtown, even in the "sketchier" areas.
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