Portlands first universally accessible center is about to be developed on the southeast corner of Ladds Addition.
Community Vision is building the Seven Corners Community Collaborative at Southeast Division and 19th Streets, which will house three nonprofits including Community Vision.
Our goals for the Seven Corners Community Collaborative are to increase access to services to a wider range of people experiencing disabilities, connect people with the ability to communicate via the Assistive Technology Lab and the building itself will serve as a model of accessibility for Portland and the Pacific Northwest region, said Lisa Steenson, capital campaign development officer with Community Vision.
Total projected cost for the 25,000 square foot development is $7.5 million. Multnomah County donated the long-vacant land to Community Vision, who have worked together for years rehabilitating housing.
They wanted to see it developed, and they wanted a nonprofit to provide social services at the location, so they contacted us, said Valerie Plummer, development director with Community Vision.
The four-story commercial building will house nonprofits FACT Oregon and Community Pathways that serve youth, families and adults experiencing disadvantaging conditions. The retail ground floor will contain a 900 square foot Nossa Familia coffee shop and an Assistive Technology Discovery Lab.
The Assistive Technology Discovery Lab is a cross between OMSI and an Apple store, Plummer said. That will be a place where individuals can try out assistive technology, everything from communication devices to a really wide array of things people can try to assist them in daily living.
Universally designed is a step above ADA ADA is what most commercial buildings are designed to comply with but we were really interested in making it accessible for everybody, Plummer said.
ADA, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination by ability and requiring certain building codes such as ramp access at an incline of one inch per foot of length. Universal access goes a step beyond the minimal accessibility laws.
ADA doesnt require things like voice-controlled elevators, but its something that, if you are in a wheelchair, it makes life nice, Plummer said.
Theres nothing cost or work-wise stopping any developer from designing for accessibility, except habit.
Details that you might not even notice, like contrasting paint colors so if youre visually impaired you can see where the wall is, and you can use the elevators with a kick plate with your foot instead of with your hand, Plummer said. Theres going to be voice controls on the elevator as well, so you dont have to use a hand or a foot.
The elevator with a kick plate and voice control is an added expense, but pending final subcontractor decisions, the developments total difference in cost by adding accessible features is less than 1 percent more.
Its really not costing us any more, but were just thinking through things before we build them, Plummer said. The paint colors, thats no added expense, just a difference in paint colors.
If you arent serving a population that is first and foremost on their mind, its understandable that designers and architects wouldnt design for universal design just because its an added step of thinking through something, Plummer said.
The bathrooms are designed as large, single rooms, even though ADA only requires a large stall.
Its really a matter of the finishes. The guts of the building arent any different the steel and the wood, all that is the same, Plummer said. Its the finishes, the things people interact with when in the building.
While Seven Corners isnt a residential building, one of the services provided by Community Vision is a savings program, the Individual Account Program, which matches clients savings with grant money.
Its a difficult housing environment right now already, so its an added difficulty if youre looking for buildings that are universally designed, Plummer said. Theoretically, they should all be accessible, but depending on what your needs are, that may or may not be true.
That helps them develop a down payment sooner than if they didnt have the matched savings, Plummer said. We also have a homeownership program. We help people find mortgages that are affordable and not scams, or not adjustable rates theyre going to get surprised by.
The site was a gas station in the 80s, but has been vacant since at least 2008. Since Ladds Addition is a nationally historic neighborhood, national guidelines are enforced locally. Designers went for approval through the City, the Bureau of Development Services and the volunteer Historic Resources Committee.
Their interest is pretty much exclusively exterior. They dont care so much about how we design the inside, theyre just interested in how it looks from the street, Plummer said. Their recommendations had to do with brick size and color, how the corner is treated, planters and fixtures in terms of door handles, the windows, the glazing on the windows and the spacing of the windows.
Along Division Street, the first floor plans include an art space, which is Plummers favorite part.
Were going to have a display window about 28 feet long thats going to feature artists with disabilities from around the city, Plummer said. We got original art pieces and a culture grant to do so.
Plans include an eco-green roof that is also part of the third floor. There will be eight parking spaces, and a deal with the nearby St. Philip Neri Church about its parking lot.
On the fourth floor will be an accessible kitchen for people who work in the building to use as well as a showroom.
That will show people options for things that are adjustable and dishwashers that pull out so people in a wheelchairs can use it really easily, Plummer said. Itll serve as a kitchen for the building and itll also be a place where people can go and see what different aspects of home modifications are possible, especially for kitchens.
The developments groundbreaking is slated for October 20, and its completion for summer 2017.