Work underway on 110 affordable apartments in North Portland
Shovels thrust into wintry soil was the first step for a budding new affordable housing community in North Portland.
When completed in July 2022, Cathedral Village Apartments will offer overhead views of the soaring St. Johns Bridge, the rumble and hum of freight trains 'round back, and 110 units for Portlanders to call home.
Development partners Catholic Charities of Oregon and Related Northwest officially broke ground on the $37.7 million project at 6520 N. Salem Ave. on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
"The housing here at this location is incredibly important, because St. Johns and the Cathedral Park neighborhood have changed so much in the last several years, and have become increasingly less affordable," said Travis Phillips, the charity's director of community development and housing.
With rents tailored to those earning 30% to 60% of the area median income — or about $19,000 annually on the low end — tenants are expected to pay between $483 to $1,371 per month. The building will include 17 studio apartments, 37 one bedroom flats, 45 with two bedrooms and 11 with three bedrooms, with the square footage ranging from 384 to 1,051 feet per unit.
Catholic Charities will provide case management and social services to all residents, including those living in eight units designated as permanent support housing for those at risk or currently experiencing homelessness.
National real estate firm Related opened their Portland office about two and a half years ago, and now has more than 300 units in construction in the area, all in the affordable housing sector, according to Stef Kondor, Related Northwest's vice president of development.
"It's an excellent location: close to a park, walkways, retail, groceries," said Kondor. "We're really excited to be in this neighborhood."
Some 7,000 square feet of communal amenities will provide a community room with kitchen, shared laundry facilities, a courtyard BBQ, a teen room, a "tot lot" with children's garden and a recording studio where VIBE PDX will offer music programming for kids.
"Going to the housing centers makes it a lot easier for kids to actually show up," said Laura Streib, founder of the music program. "Our mission is to help them build their own creative skills."
The opportunity for local youth to kick out the jams also won praise from City Commissioner Dan Ryan.
"Providing on-site, after-school activities for the students is exactly what we need more of," he said in a statement. "Families who are doing all they can to survive need extra support so their children can be on a solid path for education and career."
Construction of the four-story wood frame building, located on a 1.21 acre site, will create hundreds of jobs for around 40 subcontractors, according to Iris O'Neal, project manager for general contractor LMC Construction.
The lot was formerly occupied by automotive and construction businesses, while the city Water Pollution Control Laboratory on the south side of the tracks used to be a lumber mill.
"We've got some unforeseen conditions with the soil that we're working through," said O'Neal, explaining that a remediation process was in place for any automotive oils found in the ground. "We'll be in the concrete phase of construction here next month, and start seeing the building go vertical sometime this summer."
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