A huge mixed-use development with 435 apartments is planned along the south side of the MAX line and station in Gresham's Civic neighborhood, just as a massive 318-unit complex is starting construction across the tracks on the north side, bringing a total of 753 new homes to the area.
These two projects will create the most densely populated neighborhood in Gresham, with the tallest building and the city's most substantial underground parking garage.
David Berniker, Gresham's director of urban design and planning, said the proposed 435-unit development "brings something to the city of Gresham that is really meaningful."
In addition to the 435 apartments, the proposed development, called Civic Southwest, will have 10,500 square feet of commercial space and two open plazas accessible to the public. It will have a 368-space underground parking lot, a first for Gresham.
One building will feature a distinctive breezeway through the structure to allow folks to move into the public plaza.
"We are very proud of the design," said Gauri Rajbaidya of SERA Architects. The plans take inspiration from a stream that once ran through the property and from the cliffs and topography of the nearby Columbia River Gorge.
The complex will have five buildings on the 4.4 acre site. One will be six stories, or 70 feet tall, with 170 homes. That is believed to be the tallest building with the most floors in Gresham.
A second building will be four stories and have 24 units. Another building will be four stories and have 64 homes. The fourth building will be five stories and have 62 units and shared common space. Another building will have five stories with 72 dwelling units, a fitness room and the leasing office.
"This project brings a high quality urban design to Gresham in contrast to the 'suburban style' walk up units that make up most of the existing apartments in Gresham," Robert Gibson of the developer Palindrome Communities said via email.
The homes will feature quartz countertops with tile surrounds, energy star appliances, washers and dryers in the units, ceiling fans and walk-in closets, Gibson said.
In a high-tech feature, the building will allow residents to use their cell phones to control entry access to the building with a system from latch.com. The lobby will have an Amazon locker for parcel delivery.
Two of the buildings will have rooftop solar panels to power the common area electricity needs, Gibson said. The project incorporates sustainable features and is seeking an "Earth Advantage" certification.
Forty-four of the units will have either a private balcony or patio.
A soaking pool is planned and the design includes a dog park.
One of the plazas will have a kid's play area of about 3,750 square feet. It will have both regular playground equipment and a "natural" playground area with boulders, logs and a turf mound.
A beer garden is planned for one of the commercial spaces.
"Our affiliated hospitality group will be bringing a craft beer tap room and food hall concept to occupy the ground level commercial space at 13th (Street) and Civic. We currently own Zoiglhaus Brewing and Ascendant Brewing in Portland," Gibson said.
About 160 of the 435 units will be priced as "workforce" housing. Anticipated rents for the workforce units are $855 for studios to $1,099 for two-bedrooms. To qualify for the "workforce" rates, a single renter would have to make around $34,000 and a family of four up to $48,000.
Developer Gibson declined to say how much rent will be charged for the rest of the homes.
Although there will be 368 underground parking spaces, there are only 14 spaces outside provided for others, including those visiting businesses.
Some members of the Gresham Design Commission fretted at a hearing Wednesday, Oct. 2, that this might not be enough parking for non-residents, but designers told the commissioners they have exceeded requirements for parking and that there is plenty of street parking and parking at Gresham Station, across the street.
Gibson said this is Palindrome's first foray into Gresham. The company's most recent development is a 145-apartment, mixed-use development in the Lents neighborhood of southeast Portland called Oliver Station.
"We were attracted to the location due to the site being adjacent to light rail and the Gresham Station shopping center. Developments adjacent to transit stations are in demand by renters and investors. This location is in Opportunity Zone providing federal tax incentives for our investment," he said.
The new apartments will bring more children into the Civic neighborhood and into local schools.
The Gresham-Barlow School District will be able to handle the influx, said Mike Schofield, Gresham-Barlow's chief financial officer.
"Those developments and other proposed developments are included in our recent student enrollment study. If the study/estimates are correct, we will have room," he said via email.
The district is also redrawing school boundary lines and the estimates of new students from these two developments are being factored into the new school boundary lines, he explained.
TriMet does not expect to make any improvements to the Civic Drive Station MAX stop and is confident the station will be able to handle any additional traffic from the two developments.
The city will widen 13th Street, as well as the sidewalk along Civic Drive.
The Design Commission approved the proposal at its Oct. 2 meeting, with a few conditions attached, which are expected to be met. The developers have one year from Oct. 2 to apply for building permits.
Gibson said the project is expected to begin in the summer 2020 and be ready for tenants in 2023.
Metro owns the property and will sell it and transfer it to Palindrome when the permits have been secured.
MAX station won't change
TriMet has no plans to expand or improve the Civic Drive MAX Station and the agency is confident the station can handle the additional traffic expected from the new Civic neighborhood developments.
TriMet's Civic Drive MAX Station was constructed in 2010 and is one of the newest stations on the east side MAX Blue Line, TriMet spokesperson Tia York said.
About 400 people use the station on weekdays.
The station was built in response to growth and housing development in the area, she explained.
It has seating, shelters, transit trackers, security cameras and lighting.
The platform is long enough to accommodate a MAX train, which is about 200 feet long.
The east side MAX Blue Line is the oldest in TriMet's system, and many of the stations are more than 30 years old. TriMet began a station rehabilitation program in 2015, but Civic Drive is excluded due to its relatively young age.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.