Planning commission OKs Beaverton housing project
The Beaverton Planning Commission has given the go-ahead to the city's first project that will receive a share of the Metro housing bond approved last year.
The Mary Ann Apartments, planned for the northwest corner of Southwest Main Avenue and Second Street, won approval on a 6-0 vote Wednesday, June 26.
The four-story building will consist of 54 apartments — 25 one-bedroom, 26 two-bedroom and three three-bedroom units — that will account for almost a quarter of Beaverton's goal of 218 units under terms of the Metro bond.
The $20.9 million project still awaits financing from several sources, including $3 million from Beaverton's $31 million share of the $653 million bond approved by Metro voters last year. The largest share of the project, at $11.4 million, will be from a federal tax credit for low-income housing.
If all falls into place, construction is scheduled to start early next year and be completed in spring 2021. The contractor is Walsh Construction of Portland.
The building will have a courtyard and a recessed entry, plus rooms for physical fitness, social services such as Virginia Garcia Memorial Clinic and Centro Cultural, and community use. A leasing office also will be onsite.
"It is a nice building to look at," Commissioner Charles Brucker said. "I am sure it will be a fantastic place to live."
The building is named in honor of Mary Ann Spencer Watts, who according to the Beaverton Historical Society was Beaverton's first teacher, and whose classroom was in a cabin near the site. It is across from present-day Beaverton High School.
The sponsor is REACH Community Development Corp., a nonprofit based in Portland. It is the first Beaverton project for REACH, which is best known in Washington County for three phases of Orchards at Orenco Station — with a total of 162 apartments — and two phases of Maples senior housing, all in Hillsboro.
REACH also has projects in Portland and Vancouver, Wash.
"I am very happy that you have come into our hometown," Commissioner Gerry Uba said. "We are looking forward to the next project."
Speaking for the project were Ben Sturtz, housing development project manager for REACH, and Lisa McClellan and Dave Mojica from Scott/Edwards Architecture of Portland.
The project is several blocks away from the Barcelona, a four-story, 47-unit building completed in 2015 that also houses low-income older people and people with disabilities.
Concerns about trees
The Planning Commission heard from two people who did not oppose the project itself but raised questions about trees.
The project will require the removal of a white birch that is considered a significant tree, and REACH will pay into a city mitigation fund, which bothered Jan Asher.
A city official explained later that the fund is tapped by the city's urban forestry maintenance program for various tree projects.
"It is a breath of fresh air to have an affordable housing provider in downtown Beaverton," Reggie Frumkin said. "And (we should) elevate them so that we can have more of these, rather than have market-rate housing flood our downtown, which would accelerate gentrification citywide with a ripple effect."
But Frumkin, who works as a neighborhood-tree coordinator for another community, said he would have liked to have seen more trees — and different species — as part of the Mary Ann project.
The commission does not specify tree species in its conditions of approval, but leaves that matter to the city staff.
Commissioner Adam Matar said he welcomed the comments of Asher and Frumkin, and that planning projects should take into account elements beyond technical compliance with city development standards.
"But it is an undeniable fact that we have housing insecurity for a number of families here. It is not merely a statistic," Mater said.
"If you spend any time in Old Town, you will see children who do not necessarily have a home for the evening. It is incredibly heartbreaking. So to the development team, I want to express my personal gratitude for your coming to Beaverton. I hope you will continue to do wonderful projects like this."