Growing roots in the Jade District
This story was updated from its original version.
After a long time coming, Jade/APANO Multicultural Center (JAMS) broke ground last week ahead of the old furniture store's demolition.
Located at 8114 S.E. Division St. in the International Jade District, the once-iconic furniture store became a rentable, 8,000 square-foot community space two years ago when Metro first bought it.
Metro was intending to develop affordable apartments, which are included in the three floors of the building's plans.
The $16.5 million project is managed by Metro's Transit-Oriented Development Program, which partners with the private-sector to create more possibilities for people to live and work near quality transit. APANO also ran a capital campaign to raise close to $2 million to buy the first floor of the new building under the Roots to Rise campaign, which also hosted the groundbreaking event.
Nonprofit Rose Community Development Commission acquired the contract from Metro to demolish and oversee the construction of the new building with mixed uses for housing, office space and a public plaza. Rose CDC has been working in outer Southeast Portland neighborhoods for 25 years on revitalizing neighborhoods through thte development of affordable homes and economic opportunities.
"Rose is proud and excited to start construction on the Jade District development," Nick Sauvie told the Business Tribune ahead of the ground breaking event. "The area around 82nd Avenue is changing rapidly. Our project is providing affordable homes for people in an area that is experiencing rapid gentrification and displacement."
JAMS's goal is to build broader support for securing a more permanent community space in this neighborhood in the future. Many of the Jade District residents have international heritage, or have been pushed out of other close-in districts such as Chinatown. The historically displaced communities want to put down stable roots and stay in a place they're making their own.
The first floor of the new building will continue as JAMS with a 5,070 square foot cultural center managed by APANO, which has been leasing the furniture store from Metro for the past two years for community events.
There will be three floors of affordable housing including family-sized apartment units, for a total of 48 new apartments.
JAMS is intended to serve as a gathering place for groups, events or organizations that are Jade District Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative or APANO-related.
Nonprofit APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, doesn't own JAMS but has been leasing the temporary community space through generous support from Metro.
APANO is also the organization that runs the Jade District Night Market.
APANO plans to move its office headquarters to the new building when the project is complete.
Todd Struble, APANO's Jade District manager, told the Business Tribune that community members would proactively come ask him about what would happen at the furniture store site.
"It's something that our community identified and we were envisioning in 2014, so for us to look a few years down the road and be able to make that project a reality, we're really proud we're able to serve that community need," Struble said. "Metro took a risk is letting us use that space over the last two years before the project was in development ... we've really activated that space, so to have a new community center, it speaks to the need — and we know the space will be really well-used."
He said the development is intended to compliment the Jade community.
"It's something we want to have serve as an anchor for the folks who currently live here," Struble said. "One of the things that is going to be important going forward is connecting our residents to the housing applications when that becomes available: because we know people who live and work in this neighborhood, we want to make sure they have the first opportunity to sign up for that housing."
APANO plans to go knocking door to door once the applications are available.
The furniture store has been a test site for JAMS, where community members flock for poetry slams, theater performances and other neighborhood forums like this. These events are hosted by APANO, partner organizations or other community groups.
They've hosted about 25,000 people over the past year, according to APANO Associate Director Duncan Hwang.
"This is a great example of reclaiming abandoned buildings that are community eyesores and repurposing for the community," Hwang said in a Metro release.
"To be able to say we're able to turn it into a community office, I don't know what other uses ... it probably would've stayed vacant," Struble said. "We're really happy happy to share that (community space) with folks."
After the demolition of the furniture store is complete, construction is slated to start in early 2018. The building is scheduled for completion in 2019.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reports the amount of money of the capital campaign goal. It was close to $2 million.
By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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