NYTimes on Bend (late review)

I don’t know how I missed this the first time around (December 23rd, probably because I don’t read the New York Times): Where Timber Was King, the Golf Club Replaces the Ax.

I don’t really know what to think about this article. I certainly can’t relate to it, it’s aiming for the affluent and reeks of elitism. A little fisking, anyone?

WHEN you own a home in the sixth-fastest-growing region in the country, you worry about letting the cat out at night because of the coyotes howling in the forest. You scribe fresh powder turns down 9,000-foot-high bowls and muscle bicycles through high-desert hills. At some point, perhaps on a fairway between Holes 4 and 5, you wonder whether those lonely volcanoes lingering on the skyline will ever blow. The thing you rarely do is call your town rural.

Dammit, I do call my town rural; I grew up rural, that’s how we are. We actually did lose a cat to coyotes, growing up. I don’t ski, I’m sorry to say, nor do I golf. So far, it’s failing to hook me.

Albert Angelo Jr., an owner of a family-run development company, bought in Bend for its 300 annual days of sunshine and the 4.3 million acres of public land just beyond his floor-to-ceiling windows. He plans to divide his time between his houses in Vancouver, Wash., and Palm Desert, Calif., and his new $3 million, 5,100-square-foot single-story house in Pronghorn, a resort on the outskirts of town.

“When I look out my Pronghorn house facing north, I see a covered patio with a 10-foot-diameter barbecue pit, a pop-up plasma TV and a view of the golf course – but of a putting green, so my house won’t get hit by golf balls,” Mr. Angelo, 59, said. “You have a good lifestyle down there.”

Okay, I totally cannot relate. I’d say this guy’s idea of “a good lifestyle down there” is completely out-of-sync with the reality of Bend.

About 300 people are on a waiting list to purchase another dozen town houses at the Bluffs at the Old Mill, a neighborhood with views of the Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and Three Sisters volcanoes.

Again with the volcanoes. In my day we just called them “the mountains.” And for everybody wondering about the high real estate prices, look no more… the 288 people on that waiting list who won’t get a choice home want to go somewhere…

Bend’s proximity to trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, coupled with a bustling vibe, appealed to Stephen Johnson, 29, a salesman from Medford, Ore. In November, he bought a new 1,933-square-foot, two-story weekend house for $215,000 in southeast Bend. “It still feels like a small town but with more amenities that make it a fun place to visit,” he said.

Holy shit, there was a two-story, 1,933-square foot house for sale in town for only $215,000 as recently as November? Who did he have to kill to get the place for that cheap??

When Benders aren’t bouncing through the 370 inches of annual snowfall at Mount Bachelor, about 30 minutes west, much of the après action centers on Wall and Bond Streets, downtown’s two main arteries. Today, you’ll find no hardware store off the brick sidewalks, but should you seek information on a $2.75 million resort home or wish to make a donation to pierced buskers outside Bellatazza coffee shop, you need walk only a few blocks.

First of all, that should be “Bendites,” not “Benders”—we’re neither (mostly) drunks nor a certain sarcastic cartoon robot. Second of all, don’t remind me that there’s no hardware store downtown—it was a sad day when Masterson St. Clair finally closed down. But it’s good to know I can find that info on that $2.75-mil home, that’s important. Otherwise, this whole paragraph? Pretty much reeks of narcissistic self-importance. “Après action” and “pierced buskers” my ass.

Bend is 94 percent white. The joke among locals is that diversity means Subarus of different colors.

I’ve never heard that joke. I’ve lived here most of my life.

Okay, that’s enough. Go read the article, even if it bothers you as much as it seems to have me. I can’t help but wonder if they’re writing about the same town that I live in…

7 thoughts on “NYTimes on Bend (late review)”

  1. Benders? We did have E.L. Benders at some point, but that was in the good old days of family values because the last time I checked the place is now a strip club.

    Maybe it’s a rural strip club.

  2. Aren’t 94% of the Subarus white too? Benders just cracks me up…drunk? robot? maybe extra limber? I guess that would be perfect for the rural strip club.

  3. Can’t say that I’ve heard the Benders one, either — lame that article is (and obviously not in touch with reality and paid for by our local real estate association).

  4. Bend isn’t the only place suffering from affluenza. Aspen priced its workers out 10 years ago. I watched it happen in Coos Bay, too. It’s creeping into Klamath Falls, as well.

  5. Oh, god, Pronghorn. How could they consider it in any way representative of Bend? It’s not even *in* Bend.

    Articles like this make me despair.

  6. I live in New York City but am a native Oregonian from Bend.

    It shouldn’t be a surprised that the article in the NY Times was aimed at the affluent: it was in a part of the Friday real estate section called "Havens" for people who are looking for a second home. And it was no coincidence that this article came out at the end of the year, when Wall Street was announcing record-high bonuses averaging in the millions of dollars.

    As a Bend real estate owner, I think that Bend should look to continue to promote the sale of Bend real estate in nontraditional markets like New York because in California, where investors in Bend real estate have traditionally come from, the real estate market is tanking (and sales of previous homes was the Californians’ main source of funds for investment). It’s the only way to keep prices in Bend rising and money flowing in. New York will always have lots of money and Oregon has cachet here – it’s just a question of marketing.

    I predict that once the flow of Californians dries up, Bend will be marketing real estate to investors on the East Coast, to investors in other countries, etc., just like other successful mountain resort areas. But the local authorities need to plan for it now. Real estate is / was / will be Bend’s future, and the city should stop wasting its time with the Juniper Ridge development and invest in a real airport so that out-of-town second-home owners can access Bend from major markets for weekend trips, etc. No one complains that Aspen and Sun Valley don’t have four-year universities or high-tech industrial parks.

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