Portland to see most affordable units in one building since 1969 in new NE Grand Apartments

There are 240 affordable housing units being added to the Lloyd District in the largest single low-income building Portland has seen since 1969.

Home Forward is developing NE Grand Apartments located at 1010 N.E. Grand, which will be Oregon's largest affordable apartment building financed with low-income housing tax credits in the past 50 years. The 12-floor building's half-block site is located at Block 45 between Hassalo and Holladay streets in the Lloyd District.SUBMITTED: HOME FORWARD, COURTSEY LEVER ARCHITECTS - Renderings of the large affordable building by Lever Architects show how its mid-range height will bridge the Lloyd Districts high-rises with its lower buildings near the river.

"I did a little records research and surfaced this fact: to the best of my knowledge, the last affordable housing building of a similar scale to be developed in Portland was Hollywood East at 4400 N.E. Broadway," said Julie Livingston, senior project manager at Home Forward of Hollywood East, which was completed in 1969 with 286 apartments. "As far as we have been able to discern, it is the largest affordable housing development developed in Portland in the last 50 or so years."

1010 Grand includes 240 affordable units: 88 studios, 109 one-bedroom and 43 two-bedroom units. As for energy efficiency, it is aiming for a LEED for homes Gold level certification.

"That's nothing unusual these days, it's something our residents want as well — people at lower incomes do understand and want the value of good indoor air quality and energy-efficient appliances," Livingston said. "There is a lot of feedback from the broader community about building housing for people of lesser economic circumstances: folks understand the health benefits and economic benefits of solid-performing housing, and somebody with lower income shouldn't be burdened with higher than average utility fees."

The affordable rent will be at 60 percent median family income (MFI) for 217 of the units and 50 percent MFI for 23 units —of which, 20 will be set aside for domestic violence survivors. Those are planned to have Section 8 project-based vouchers assisting with the rental subsidy, and partners include the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordination Office, the Gateway Center, Raphael House and women's empowerment nonprofit YWCA.

"We have just started construction and put the crane up on site," Livingston told the Business Tribune. Livingston has been in Portland for 30 years and is the chair of the city's design commission.

Lloyd Proportions

"This is an incredibly important building for the neighborhood: the Lloyd has changed significantly over the past several years — many really large housing developments are underway, as well as several small housing developments and the (Hyatt Convention Center) hotel," Livingston said of the luxury, eco-friendly Hassalo on Eighth, the four-block Oregon Square and the upcoming Lloyd Center IMAX theater parking lot redevelopment by Holst Architecture. "The demographics in the neighborhood are changing significantly. There is going to be a lot of residential — whether it's residential units or hotels, but a lot of residential use in the neighborhood. And none of it's affordable."PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JULES ROGERS - The boom crane was recently installed at Block 45, the location of the half-block NE Grand Apartments, which will add 240 affordable housing units to the Lloyd District.

Currently, the Lloyd only has one low-income building, Madrona Studios, which is a Central City Concern property at 10 N. Weidler St. with 176 units.

"This NE Grand (Apartments) development is as far as we can tell the first ground-up, all-affordable new housing development to happen in this neighborhood," Livingston said. "We are an important part of the demographic mix in this growing and expanding neighborhood."

The ground floor will include commercial space for retail shops and on-site property management.

"The design team was really focused on the Lloyd District guidelines and designing a building that fits incredibly well into the neighborhood — in part because it's a high-rise, but not a tower," Livingston said. "Part of what gives the Lloyd District such incredibly interesting character is the fact that there are so any large towers — they're commercial space, but they are that kind of iconic architectural structure that really makes the neighborhood the place that it is."

An interior courtyard has plans for the Jim Smith Garden, an homage to Home Forward's former board chair before the current Mary Ann Herman.

"Because we were designing a building that is more of the mid-scale — it is a high-rise, but it's 12 stories — the team was very focused on designing a building that actually acknowledged that big scale and fit really well between the towers that surround it to the North and East, and the lower-rise development that is West of our building, closer to the river," Livingston said.

In the Lloyd District, building heights scale down toward the river — the exception being the upcoming 14-floor Hyatt Hotel at the convention center.

"When you see a rendering of our building in its context from a distance, it is really a nicely proportioned, mid-scale building that bridges between high-rises and low-rises," Livingston said. "Along with that, it responds to the Lloyd District guidelines that ask applicants to respond to the material character of the neighborhood: a lot of masonry, a lot of light colors, durable, a solid design aesthetic — and this building does that well, a scaled response and a materials response."

Livingston said considering the large scale of the project, there were very few snags along the way during the design and permit process so far.

"You might think with a building of this size and the fact that it's all affordable, there might be some real particular challenges to that, but we have the City of Portland as a partner in this development and the land came to us through the City," Livingston said. "The biggest challenge to affordable housing developments today tends to be the fact that affordable housing developers can't afford to purchase the land."SUBMITTED: HOME FORWARD, COURTSEY LEVER ARCHITECTS - NE Grand Apartments is aiming for LEED Gold.

Home Forward received the land through the City of Portland's annual notice of funding available (NOFA) issued in 2015. The Portland Housing Bureau contributed more than $23,000 per unit to NE Grand Apartments and Multnomah County contributed $500,000 — "an incredible bargain for 240 units," Livingston said.

"That land and some funding from both the City of Portland and Multnomah County flowed into the project from that NOFA Project, and that really eased the burden on the development proforma," Livingston said.

The location makes it even more valuable.

"It's in the Central City, so there is development capacity on this site that is uncommonly large," Livingston said. "We are able to put a lot of housing units here, it is incredibly well-connected to transportation options and job centers and education centers, so as far as locating affordable housing in our community, it's a fantastic site. That's the absolute greatest thing about this building — it's so incredibly well-connected to all these resources."

With a 21-month construction schedule, completion and occupancy is slated for August 2020.

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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