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BRIDGE Housing develops two buildings including mixed affordability in the South Waterfront

While the South Waterfront has had some of the highest numbers of boom cranes hanging over it, of all the Portland neighborhoods in the past decade, it's still seemed underdeveloped and cut off from the rest of downtown.

But that's all changing as the district's masterplan comes to fruition. A two-building development is currently in closing mode at the final block that completes RiverPlace in the South Waterfront, with subbids being reviewed by Hoffman now.

Kim McKay, executive vice president of BRIDGE Housing, is the developer on the project.SUBMITTED: BRIDGE HOUSING, COURTESY ANKROM MOISAN ARCHITECTS - The western tower (right) will include 13 floors with 203 units of affordable housing at a projeted cost of $79 million, and the market-rate building on the left is projected to cost $67 million.

"We were thrilled to be selected as the development and it's such a prominent, critical corner for the South Waterfront — and in addition to its prominence, the fact that we're able to bring a really substantial amount of affordability to the neighborhood in a pretty expeditious fashion, we've very excited about it," McKay said. "We were working pretty diligently for the last two years to get to this point, and it's really very exciting."

The western building will be a concrete post-tension tower with 13 stories of affordable housing. A total of 203 units will be rented at different levels of affordability.

"As per our purchase agreement with Prosper Portland, we have some deep affordability in the building as well as some units that are ranging from 0-60 AMI (family median income)," McKay said.

The second, market-rate building's approximate cost is $67 million.

"We've got the opportunity to provide affordable housing and market-rate housing on a transit line in a very active work environment there in the South Waterfront," McKay said. "With all the new OHSU and office buildings going up, I think it's going to be terrific."

The development has two entry points: one off Southwest River Parkway, a road that will continue onto the development as a private drive, and the other off Moody into and out of the garage.

"We have one subterranean level of underground parking across the site that services both the market-rate and affordable buildings," McKay said. "There are some complexities to easement agreements that run between the two properties."

McKay said they're considering adding a small affordable component to the market-rate building, as well, but it's only being discussed at this phase.

"Ankrom Moisan is the architect, and they have done a really terrific job of really integrating the buildings into the fabric of the neighborhood, activity with the street and surrounding neighborhood," McKay said.


BRIDGE isn't new to the Portland marketplace, having completed the Abigail a few years ago with 155 units of mixed affordability.

"We're on schedule to close the affordable building. We're staggering the constriction start on the two buildings," McKay said. "The affordable tower with start Q4 of this year. Bids have come in, and the contractor is going through them right now."

The construction schedule is 21 months, with an expected completion date of late fall, 2019.

"Every project has its unique challenges. The layered financing can make it time-consuming," McKay said. "It's a complex program for the site as you can imagine — it's two acres, maybe a little more, it's a dense complex."

Making a whole building of affordable units pencil out is no easy feat.McKay

"Unfortunately, there's a complex set of layered financing on these projects, but we have $19 million of funds from the Urban Renewal Area that came with the RFP that was put out on the street," McKay said. "The total development costs for the affordable building are approximately $79 million. The project is funded through a complex layering of public and private sources that include funds from the Portland Housing Bureau, low income housing tax credits and tax exempt bonds from Oregon Housing and Community Services, as well as funds from Key Bank, the National Equity Fund and Barings Multi Family Capital."

The project is eligible for the MULTE property tax extension, which helps with the underwriting.

"This is a tax credit project, so we are using 4 percent tax credits and have a tax credit partner and got some really great pricing from them — that's a big component," McKay said. "Then there are the main sources, the conventional mortgage."

There are also some SDC waivers because of the affordable component, which could add up to as much as 13 percent of the development's total costs in ordinary builds.

"I think it'll be a good neighbor to the folks that have already been living and working down in that area for a number of years," McKay said. "The fact that we're able to bring scale to affordable housing here in Portland at a point in time when housing at all affordability levels is at such a critical juncture is key. Our ability to, in a relatively short period of time, get a large scale of affordable housing up and running is really noteworthy."

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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