Meet Luke and Jess, Your New Portland Apartment Overlords

Luke and Jess in the Burnside 26 ad

Some people are alarmed by Portland's boom of new apartment buildings, fearing they will drive out longtime residents, eat up parking and destroy cherished bars.

But not Luke and Jess. Luke and Jess are happy.

Luke and Jess are the stars of a promotional video just released by the building Burnside 26, which is located at 2625 East Burnside Street and is currently renting studio apartments starting at $1,338 a month. 

The video arrives as Portland is in the middle of an ongoing apartment crunch, where people are flowing into the city faster than developers can build apartments for them. But The Oregonian reported Thursday that Portland rental rates are increasing at nearly twice the rate of home prices.

And the lifestyle of Luke and Jess probably won't provide much salve for that pain.

In the video, Luke and Jess use the building's bicycle parking, wash their puppy in a dog bathtub, and sing karaoke at Chopsticks II—a bar that is slated for demolition to make room for new development.

Luke and Jess are not the first "representative" couple to garner notice in Portland. In 2010, mayoral candidate Sam Adams debuted "Mike and Jean," two possibly real Portlanders who faced difficulties finding housing and jobs.

Luke and Jess do not seem to have those problems, although the ad does not show them working.

But they have already become a lightning rod for scorn on social media.

"You make it hard for me to root for you, developers," wrote Bike Portland reporter Michael Andersen on Twitter. "So very hard."

UPDATE, 4:15 pm:

Bekah Caetano, the property manager for Burnside 26, says Luke and Jess are actors, not tenants.

But she tells WW she's been hearing about the backlash from her actual tenants.

"I'm not sure where it's coming from," she says. "Actually, I know where it's coming from. But I'm not sure why this specific video. We're not the only brand-new building in Portland. We're not the only one with a video."

Caetano says Burnside 26 is nothing to resent.

"Some people who have lived in this neighborhood for years and years aren't excited about any kind of change," she says. "But change is inevitable. Nobody's pushing anybody out of any neighborhoods. People are flocking to Portland. We're trying to keep up with the demand."

WWeek 2015

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