Greater New England -- Portland Area -- Landscape Architecture Market?

nca777

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My partner and I are considering relocating/expanding our successful LA business from a western moutain resort community to the Portland area to be closer to family and expand our palette.

I grew up in Portland and understand the culture well, but its been over15 years since Ive lived there. Still, when we visit we are both captivated by the small-scale urbanism. Leaving the city with no design background as a teenager and coming back as a professional has made me look at the city and surrounding area with a new set of eyes.

I love New England and am quite dumbfounded that the coity of portland and surrounding towns havent exploded with growth. Its such a great place with so much to offer. Yes, I understand taxes are quite high, but you have the ocean, a little slice of urbanism, rich history, amazing forests, mountains, hiking, skiing, lakes, etc all within a couple hours drive.

So, whats going on up there?! Is anyone working? Is everyone working? Does the aging/retiring ppulation extend to the professional world? In other words, will there be shoes to fill in the coming years as long-time practitioners retire?

In particular, is there wealth and sophistication outside the 'yankee thrift' where people are spending money on their homes and property? Are they hiring LA's?

Do any of you work with local LA's in the area? Would a 'younger, fresher' and more savvy LA team with strong graphic skills and a penchant for urban design find a niche in the area?

Is it reasonable to think one could grow a reasonably sized small LA/Urban Design practice from Portland serving greater New England?

Thanks for any feedback!
 

TheBostonian

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I can't answer all your questions. But I know Portland based engineers who do some work in the Boston area. And I know some Boston area engineers who do some work in Maine. I know Boston based landscape architects who work all over the country and around the globe.

When I lived there a few years ago, I got the sense that the culture and quality of life drew some professionals to Portland. And it felt like a mini metropolis with a little bit of a lot of industries. But it also seems like a much harder place to become an established professional compared to Metro Boston.

Would you consider other vibrant small New England cities a little closer to Boston, such as Portsmouth, Providence, New Bedford, or Salem (MA)?
 

nca777

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I can't answer all your questions. But I know Portland based engineers who do some work in the Boston area. And I know some Boston area engineers who do some work in Maine. I know Boston based landscape architects who work all over the country and around the globe.

When I lived there a few years ago, I got the sense that the culture and quality of life drew some professionals to Portland. And it felt like a mini metropolis with a little bit of a lot of industries. But it also seems like a much harder place to become an established professional compared to Metro Boston.

Would you consider other vibrant small New England cities a little closer to Boston, such as Portsmouth, Providence, New Bedford, or Salem (MA)?
Thanks. Yes, I/we would and have looked into Portsmouth. My wife and I both love to ski, backpack, camp, hike--that kind of stuff so northern new england seems to make the most sense. I have been leaning toward Portland because its familiar to me. On the same token, its almost too familiar--meaning I'm not sure how I'd feel about potentially running into old classmates, people I knew from another chapter in my life which has long passed.

Portsmouth is a great small city, but expensive. We went as far as to do some 'drop ins' on local architects and landscape architects in Portsmouth last Summer. We found only one or two LA's and they were one or two person shops, seemed almost...not quite slow, but kind of. We got spooked and headed back to our little mountain community.

Here we are again, however, for the third year running, looking for opportunities in Northern New England, wanting to be closer to family and wanting to expand our business with new challenges.

We also drove up through New Hampshire and into Burlington VT. The further north we got, the quieter it felt. Burlington is a vibrant enclave, but seems remote. I actually went to school there years ago and loved it, but as a place for business, not so sure.

I understand there are very accomplished LA's and Archs in Cambridge/Boston whom we read about in magazines all the time. We aspire to that level of design, but leery of quality of life tradeoffs and affordability of living in Boston, or Mass in general. Again, we are seeking balance--great work, great design challenges, vibrant culture, and beautiful environment.

We're in a beautiful place now, but the mountain valley can sometimes make us feel boxed in (and its super expensive).

The last little piece to the equation, if youve read this far, is that we are hoping/expecting to sell our small condo at a pretty substantial profit. We would could have a six-figure sum to work with and would like to make an investment. We've looked into the idea of finding a lot to subdivide and entitle ourselves or owner-occupy a two-family in a strong rental neighborhood or....open to ideas. At the very least we hope to have some cushion.
 

Patrick

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Thanks. Yes, I/we would and have looked into Portsmouth. My wife and I both love to ski, backpack, camp, hike--that kind of stuff so northern new england seems to make the most sense. I have been leaning toward Portland because its familiar to me. On the same token, its almost too familiar--meaning I'm not sure how I'd feel about potentially running into old classmates, people I knew from another chapter in my life which has long passed.

Portsmouth is a great small city, but expensive. We went as far as to do some 'drop ins' on local architects and landscape architects in Portsmouth last Summer. We found only one or two LA's and they were one or two person shops, seemed almost...not quite slow, but kind of. We got spooked and headed back to our little mountain community.

Here we are again, however, for the third year running, looking for opportunities in Northern New England, wanting to be closer to family and wanting to expand our business with new challenges.

We also drove up through New Hampshire and into Burlington VT. The further north we got, the quieter it felt. Burlington is a vibrant enclave, but seems remote. I actually went to school there years ago and loved it, but as a place for business, not so sure.

I understand there are very accomplished LA's and Archs in Cambridge/Boston whom we read about in magazines all the time. We aspire to that level of design, but leery of quality of life tradeoffs and affordability of living in Boston, or Mass in general. Again, we are seeking balance--great work, great design challenges, vibrant culture, and beautiful environment.

We're in a beautiful place now, but the mountain valley can sometimes make us feel boxed in (and its super expensive).

The last little piece to the equation, if youve read this far, is that we are hoping/expecting to sell our small condo at a pretty substantial profit. We would could have a six-figure sum to work with and would like to make an investment. We've looked into the idea of finding a lot to subdivide and entitle ourselves or owner-occupy a two-family in a strong rental neighborhood or....open to ideas. At the very least we hope to have some cushion.
It can be done. We're in Boston in less than 2 hours. It's all tradeoff. Sounds like you're thinking about making the right moves.
 

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