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The downtown apartment complex is opening next month after some delays. It includes 78 variably sized units.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - A worker applies joint compound to drywall in a ground-floor loft apartment at the Jesse Quinn Apartments in Forest Grove. Crews are working to prepare the building for occupancy in October.The face of downtown Forest Grove is changing.

The four-story apartment building at the west end of downtown, the Jesse Quinn Apartments, is preparing to open next month. The building includes 78 apartment units, as well as about 2,500 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.

The apartments were developed through a public-private partnership involving the City of Forest Grove and the regional government Metro. The developer, owner and property manager is Gresham-based Tokola Properties.

"We're long-term investors in the communities that we go in," said Jeff Edinger, a vice president at Tokola who has been closely involved with the Jesse Quinn development.

Edinger added, "Frankly, when we come in, it's a significant investment. … When we're at the early stages of it and we're visiting communities that have a need for this type of development, what we're looking for is that the local business community is involved, that the city's involved, and it's got good bonds. I mean, when we see participation like that, that resonates with us, because again, we're long-term investors, and so we know that if the community's not involved, it's not as beneficial."

Pete Truax, Forest Grove's mayor since 2009, said he expects multifamily housing to be "an increasing part of the mix" in Forest Grove.

"We have some spots of land that are on or within a couple of blocks of our (Highway 8) couplet, and I see those as being prime spots for multifamily housing so that we can get people close to a bus line that can move them east of here," Truax said.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - The work is not finished just yet, but the Jesse Quinn Apartments at the west end of downtown Forest Grove are rapidly approaching completion.The Jesse Quinn is served directly by TriMet bus line 57, a 24-hour service that runs between Forest Grove and Beaverton every day of the week. Edinger said the apartment complex has been developed with transit in mind — hence Metro's involvement — though there is still more than one parking space per unit included on-site.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Tokola Properties Vice President Jeff Edinger expressed pride in the Jesse Quinn Apartments, which his company has developed and will continue to own and manage for the 'long term,' he said.Although affordable housing has been a major topic of discussion in Forest Grove, and Metro has placed a regional bond measure on the ballot that would pay for up to 3,900 units of low-income housing, the Jesse Quinn Apartments are market-rate units. Edinger said they are competitively priced with others in Forest Grove — and cheaper, he noted, than many comparable apartments in the Hillsboro area — but he acknowledged they are not considered low-income housing units.

The apartments do span a range of sizes and floor plans, ranging from studio apartments — which include loft and live-work units on the ground floor — to three-bedroom apartments comparable in square footage to a small house. Monthly rents start at $1,025 and run up to about $1,750.

"The reason why we do these types of developments is there's a lot of people that have lived in the communities that we go into — a Forest Grove, or a Hillsboro, or a Gresham — they've lived there for a long time, they own a single-family home, they want to downsize," Edinger said. "They don't want all the maintenance associated with it. But they want something that's safe, secure, single-level living, elevator access, in their town that they love, but in a vibrant setting."

He added, "Because we're long-term investors, we offer a variety of floor plans, right? We're not guys that are going to come in and say, 'We know we can lease the heck out of one-bedrooms. We're just going to sell it after we're done.' We're long-term, so we've got to have a variety. But what that variety creates is that for some of the people that are moving down, they've got options."

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Stainless steel GE appliances are among the fixtures and features installed in units at the Jesse Quinn Apartments, like this three-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor.Among other amenities, once it is fully completed, the Jesse Quinn will also include a fitness center, bicycle storage, a community room and deck, a boardwalk and plaza area along the north side of Pacific Avenue, and on-site parking.

The apartment building sits on the former site of the Times-Litho printing plant. Redeveloping the site was a key piece of Forest Grove's urban renewal plan, which meant the demolition of the Times-Litho building and the development of the Jesse Quinn were eligible for more than $2 million in total from the city's urban renewal agency.

The building itself is named for 19th-century pioneer and territorial politician Jesse Quinn Thornton, best known for writing Oregon's eventual state motto, "Alis volat propriis," or, "She flies with her own wings."

Edinger said that Tokola reached out to the downtown community while developing the Jesse Quinn Apartments and tried to ensure the building would fit in with the area

"From the start of this project, we worked hard to make sure that we were honoring the architecture that's present in downtown," Edinger said. "So you'll notice we use a lot of brick."

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - A worker installs an electrical box on an air conditioning unit at the Jesse Quinn Apartments in Forest Grove.A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at the Jesse Quinn Apartments, located at 1837 Pacific Ave., at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Edinger said tenants will likely start moving into the apartment building toward the middle of October.

The building was originally expected to be completed several months earlier, but construction delays have pushed it back to the fall, Edinger acknowledged.

The Jesse Quinn will become the third new apartment complex to open to tenants this year in Forest Grove — a remarkable building boom for a city that, according to senior city planner James Riordan, had seen only one other multifamily housing development built since 2011.

"I think we're pretty consistent with the other communities that have just come on," said Edinger, referring to the apartments' respective pricing. "But," he added with a laugh, "I think we're better."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the day of the week that the ribbon-cutting is being held. It is on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The story has been updated.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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