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Affordable housing complex would also offer public green space, community center

A proposed residential development in the heart of Rockwood has generated debate among residents and organizations about whether it would be a good fit within the neighborhood.

Rockwood 10, co-developed by Community Development Partners and Hacienda CDC, would be a 224-unit apartment community wedged between Southeast Stark Street, 187th Avenue and Yamhill Street.

Community Development Partners and Hacienda CDC would remain co-owners of the approximately 14-acre site, which would include family-sized units, access to public transportation, a publicly accessible green space and community programming, and bike and pedestrian connections to nearby points of interest.

As part of the project that was put forth to the community last fall, the developers would open South Rockwood Park to the public, which is currently a fenced-in private green space. The developers foresee having walking paths, community gardens, open spaces, play areas and a place for community gathering.

Two vocal opponents have stepped forward against Rockwood 10. The Rockwood Neighborhood Association has taken an official stance in opposition to the plans, taking issue with a concentration of more low-income housing within the community.

"We need homes and people to put roots in the community," said Donna Dionne, secretary/treasurer of the Neighborhood Association. "We could do so much more for this area."

Rockwood Preparatory Academy, 740 S.E. 182nd Ave., also has many issues with the development. The school, which has about 350 students from kindergarten through sixth grade, would lose its grassy play areas through the development.

School officials said the development would have parking lots abutting the edge of the school, which would pose a safety concern to students. If Rockwood 10 is completed, it would remove the sports fields and grass where the kids play during recess, leaving a small concrete patch for them to play.

School leadership wants to purchase part of the current green space for itself, maintaining the natural area and fields to which it already has access. Many groups beyond the school also use the green space, such as the nonprofit Play-Grow-Learn, which hosts camps for foster and homeless children.

"We are about supporting kids, and this plan takes our ability as a community to celebrate and be who we are," said John Nelsen, executive director of Rockwood Preparatory Academy. "I will fight tooth and nail to stop this from happening."

Groups have voiced support for Rockwood 10 because of the new affordable housing and community space many agree is desperately needed in East Multnomah County. East County Rising, a political action committee founded by Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales, is one organization actively supporting Rockwood 10. The group has hosted informational sessions to engage residents about the plans.

Developers of Rockwood 10 indicated the site would accommodate community resources. Plans include classes and advising for entrepreneurs, financial coaching and resources for credit building and saving, out-of-school activities for kids and early childhood education opportunities.

To circumvent parking problems, developers will provide a spot for every apartment in the complex, along with bicycle storage.

Nothing is set in stone at this point, as developers host listening sessions to help refine the project. Rockwood 10 must be approved by the Gresham Design Commission, which will discus the proposed project at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, at Gresham City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway.

If you go

What: Learn more about Rockwood 10 and voice your opinions about the development plan during a Gresham Design Commission meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27

Where: Gresham City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway

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