173 affordable apartments re-open in downtown Portland
After more than 100 years gracing downtown, a newly restored apartment building is ready to offer hard-pressed Portlanders a place to call home for another century — and beyond.
Central City Concern officially cut the ribbon on the renovated C. K. Henry building, 309 S.W. 4th Ave., during a virtual grand re-opening on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
"All in this building will have access to a range of CCC wraparound services, inclusive of health care, mental health services, supported employment, recovery services as well as food and rent assistance," said Rachel Solotaroff, president and CEO of the homelessness services nonprofit.
Originally constructed in 1909 by local developer Charles Henry, the six-story, 62,000-square-foot building had offered 153 units of affordable housing since Central City purchased the property and converted it from office uses in 1989. Plans to renovate the structure, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, were approved by the city Bureau of Development Services in late 2018.
Construction costs were $23.8 million, and development cost $13.1 million, for a total price tag of just over $37 million. The restoration added 20 new apartments. All units are designed as single room occupancy flats, with shared bathrooms for residents.
The Portland Housing Bureau alone contributed $12.9 million — a worthy investment, according to Mayor Ted Wheeler, who praised the facility as a "nearly zero barrier housing option."
"Our community continues to be in a desperate need for more affordable housing, and with the impacts to our economy that COVID-19 is having, the demand for safe, stable affordable housing, which I believe everyone has a right to, is likely to continue to increase," the mayor said.
Nine units will be offered to those making 30% of the median area income, and the remainder for those earning 60% — or $332 to $580 in monthly rent. Veterans, those living on the streets, and those who experienced the criminal justice system are priorities for berths. CCC will also host its Flip the Script program for recently released Black residents on site.
CCC spokeswoman Laura Recko told the Tribune the organization finds new residents via referrals from local veterans programs and the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice. The Henry itself is expected to reach full occupancy as soon as Feb. 12.
"Residents are able to stay permanently," Recko said via email. The building closed during construction, but "residents who chose to, were relocated to other properties or hotels in close proximity," she said. "Additionally, some residents moved out."
Safety for quakes
Though noted for its Chicago School style architecture, its enameled Tiffany brick caught more than just the light, as city planners noted that the building was also vulnerable to a major earthquake. The restoration project added four concrete towers and two elevator shafts. The city considers the work to be a "partial seismic upgrade."
Colas Construction noted the challenge of preserving the historic bank vault, facade, lobby, staircase and recreating mosaic tile patterns during the multi-year project. Light could be seen seeping through the street sidewalk into the basement level before work began, said company CEO Andrew Colas.
"Early on we realized that the existing condition didn't always match the blueprints," he said.
New amenities include rooftop solar panels, several murals and a bike storage area. Other project partners include Klosh Group, SERA Architects, KPFF Structural Engineers and Meritus Property Group.
Long-time resident Richard Thombs said the Henry had saved him and his 7-year-old pet Boxer from life on the streets. "I've been there before and I pray to God I never have to go back," he said. "When I got out of prison, I was hooked up with Central City for housing, and I've never left."
Follow me on Twitter
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.