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REACH Community Development digs into Lents to build an intergenerational mixed-use building

The Lents Town Center urban renewal area is already stimulating more developments outside its original plans for the neighborhood's main drag.

The groundbreaking for 72Foster, a REACH Community Development project located at 7238 S.E. Foster Rd., was held last week on Thursday, Sept. 21.SUBMITTED: REACH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT - Representatives from REACH, the Portland Housing Bureau, Metro, KeyBank and the Asian Health and Service Center dug in with golden shovels and spoke at the event.

72Foster will be an intergenerational, mixed-use building, creating 101 permanently affordable housing (some affordable deals with the City, State or Prosper Portland can expire) serving both seniors and families, with apartment sizes ranging from studios to three bedrooms.

The project is estimated to cost $24 million. Lucy Corbett, housing development project manager with REACH, attended the groundbreaking that featured speakers from the various funding partners.

"We have some great financing partners and it's always challenging to get all the pieces to fit together in these affordable projects," Corbett told the Business Tribune. "This project has a 4 percent low-income housing tax credit paired with the issued tax exemption, and then we have a $5.7 million loan from the City of Portland — they are also contributing the land that the project is on through a ground lease — and then we have a number of other smaller gap sources."

The smaller sources include a $400,000 transit-oriented development grant from Metro and others from the state.

"This deal has many different funding sources and that process just takes awhile," Corbett said. "We have had great support from both the City of Portland and OHCS finance agency, as well as KeyBank who is our low-income housing tax credit investor."

KeyBank is providing the construction debt and facilitating the permit on the project.

"Like all development happening right now in the city of Portland, construction costs are at record high, which makes getting your budget to pencil just more challenging as we're seeing a lot of inflation in construction costs," Corbett said. "That's been a challenge on our project like many others, and just affordable housing finance in general is quite complicated."

Neighborhood partnership

72Foster emphasizes REACH's goals of providing transit-oriented affordable living, while building a vibrant community. As outer southeast Portland's population grows and outpaces the current housing supply, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people earning low-income wages or living on fixed incomes to find quality affordable apartments. REACH is addressing this need through 72Foster with rents affordable to residents earning approximately 60 percent of area Median Family Income (MFI), which is currently less than $31,000 for a single-person household. In addition, twenty apartments will have Project Based Section 8 vouchers, where residents will only pay 30 percent of their income in rent, serving those with very low incomes. SUBMITTED: REACH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT - A rendering by Holst Architecture shows how 72Foster will fit into the neighborhood.

"We've done a number of public meetings about the project and the neighborhood seems to be pretty excited about the commercial space as well as the development in general — the affordability that we're bringing to the site and the design we're providing in the building," Corbett said.

Onsite programs and services to residents will be provided through a partnership with the Asian Health & Service Center (AHSC).

"We have a really interesting partnership there we've been working on for quite awhile with the AHSC," Corbett said. "They will be providing resident services at the building — we'll be able to connect our residents to their services, and then they'll also be the site services provider."

The AHSC is an organization that provides social services and healthcare services to Portland's various Asian communities. Its new community center is also going up in the Lents Town Center, about a mile from 72Foster.

"We're very excited about that partnership and being able to extend affordable housing to Portland's Asian communities, which have often been underserved because of barriers like language and not being able to fully access the information necessary to fill out the paperwork, and other kinds of hoops you have to go through in order to get access to services," Corbett said. "We have been working with them for a couple of years on this idea,

and it's neat to see it's finally coming to


The development also includes 8,900 square feet of commercial space.

"It'll be a really great addition for the neighborhood: it will obviously be providing much-needed affordable housing and it will also be providing commercial space," Corbett said. "We're really hoping to get some great businesses in there that will be neighborhood-serving and complement the (Portland) Mercado and all the great energy the Mercado has brought to the area."

72Foster's completion date is slated for January, 2019.

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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