Mixed-Use, Affordable Housing Development in the Works for Foster?

Foster just may get the residential development it sorely needs. Oddly enough, and refreshingly so, it probably won’t come at the hands of developers moving on from their Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 7.24.04 PMlatest fetes on Hawthorne, Division, or the stretch of SE 50th that connects both of them to Foster. Instead, a city-owned parcel of land at SE 72nd and Foster, just across the street from the Portland Mercado, may be developed as a mixed-use project with up to 60 units of affordable housing.

For a little background, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) purchased the site several years ago, along with the lot where the Mercado now sits, as part of its plan for the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area (URA) and its inclusion of Foster Road. More recently, the site has been identified as one of five city-owned properties being made available for the construction of affordable housing. This is part of a recent Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), in which “…the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) in partnership with Multnomah County, the Portland Development Commission (PDC), and Home Forward is making available up to $61,600,000 in federal and local funds as well as five sites and up to 100 project based Section 8 vouchers for development, rehabilitation and/or preservation of affordable housing.”

City of Portland - NOFA

City of Portland – NOFA

In regards to the site at SE 72nd and Foster, not only is the city making it available for the development of affordable housing, but increased funding is there to make it a strong likelihood. The current NOFA requires proposals be submitted by January 11, which means ideas for the lot will soon take shape. At this point, there’s already at least one proposal on the table.

In May, 2014, the PDC published its five-year action plan for the Lents Town Center URA, and in that document they identified SE 72nd as an important node along the Foster corridor. They sought to activate the intersection by facilitating  development of the Portland Mercado (on the east) and a commercial or mixed-use project (on the west). With the city’s affordable housing crisis, along with the current NOFA, it appears as if the timing is perfect for this lot to finally be developed.

Portland Development Commission

Portland Development Commission

Requirements and preference criteria, as stated in the NOFA, indicate that a future project would have a minimum of 40 units, affordable to households making 60% or less of the area median income, and contain at least 10,000 square feet of commercial space. The mixed-use element seems to be the overriding theme outside of the affordable housing goal. In terms of the commercial space that will be required, it must be located on the ground floor and front Foster Road. As per
the NOFA, the design and use of the commercial space must be compatible with the Portland Mercado; be affordable for long-term use to for-profit businesses, especially those that are minority-owned; add to the sustainability of the commercial district by complementing nearby businesses, not competing with them.

IMG_0639For an area that is rapidly changing and seeing home values climb by the day, a project like this could go a long way in stemming the tide of gentrification, while also adding to the vitality of the Foster commercial corridor. We’ve discussed the need for affordable housing  in the neighborhood before, and it appears this may be our first chance to make a dent in that need.

The proposal currently on the table for the site is by ROSE CDC, in partnership with Sera Architects, Walsh Construction, and Human Solutions. It’s unclear if the proposal has been formally submitted to the city, but ROSE has already shared their vision for the site IMG_2962with the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association, and plan to do so again with the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association this coming Monday. While specifics aren’t extensive, the plan would include the aforementioned 10,000 square feet of commercial space, as well as 60 units of affordable rental housing.

It’s possible that more proposals will be submitted prior to the January 11 deadline, but the framework for any future development as part of the NOFA will be pretty consistent. Once submissions are in, a notice of awards will be made by March, 2016. It is unclear how fast a project would move after that. Regardless, much needed mixed-use and affordable housing development could be on the horizon.

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17 Responses to Mixed-Use, Affordable Housing Development in the Works for Foster?

  1. Ruben Medina says:

    I hope this doesnt mean the Real Housewives of Section 8 are moving in….

  2. Nacelle says:

    I prefer market rate housing. I don’t like it when the city steps (over steps) in. Let the neighborhood evolve.

    • The city owns that lot, so they’re involved either way.

      • Nacelle says:

        Yes, I am aware of that. As a 30 year resident of the area I am disappointed the property is offered up for this use. After waiting years for the Foster Streetscape plan to finally be coming to fruition I believe that this will contribute to the areas difficulty in reaching full potential.

        • How does affordable housing equate to not reaching full potential? And I’m confused about your support for the Streetscape Plan. That’s a city project…I thought you didn’t want the city to step in.

  3. Rachel says:

    I think and hope this will be a positive for the neighborhood. Just a block away from this site, a whole apartment complex that was affordable was effectively evicted with incredibly high rent increases over the summer. It seems it would have been effective for the city to spend some of that money on purchasing or assisting in the purchase of Mitchell Court (now “The Arleta” though briefly also “The Arletta”).

  4. Yes, it’s a bummer what happened with Mitchell Court. Hopefully this project helps our neighborhood remain accessible to families of all income levels.

    • cinsational says:

      Why is everyone so bummed about the Mitchell apartments?? That place was a damn shit hole with mostly low lifes. Hell, when I first drove by that place I thought “man what a shit hole”.

      I don’t mind affordable housing, but hopefully we don’t get low income housing. Just face the facts folks, it brings drugs and crime with it.

  5. RachelM says:

    There were issues there, for sure, but there were also lots of folks living on disability and families just making ends meet. From the people I have talked to, that was the majority of who was living there. And those people were fine neighbors.

  6. Todd says:

    Wake up people, our city requires affordable housing for TEACHERS and BARISTAS and BUS DRIVERS and GROCERY STORE CLERKS and POSTAL WORKERS. The people that make it function. Let;s take a chance on creating a space for them prior to assuming low-lives will flood the block. Take a quick look at San Francisco and recognize you can’t just lock out housing for anyone under a certain income threshold. Or because a building is tall. We need places for everyone. Rents in SF are quickly locking anyone that can’t swing the $3000 a month out. Minimum wage workers and college students have to commute 2+ hours just to get into the city. Otherwise it’s good times and party hardy for anyone that makes the cut.

    Development like this will make our neighborhood a lot more livable and interesting and functional and fun and real, unlike the trajectory Division and Mississippi and Alberta are on. Obviously rents in the zip code are rapidly increasing and the neighborhood is quickly becoming out of reach for many people who work hard and make a decent living. Let’s be real, even affordable housing in a decade will likely be out of reach for anyone making less than $40-50K a year anywhere west of 82nd. Portland is not a suburb, it is a city. There are going to be some low-lives, druggies, and undesirables. This development may fail miserably but at least someone’s trying.

    And back to original purpose of my post before i stopped and read some of the comments, if 72nd is a ‘green link’ then ya’l’ need to slow the eff down and stop texting while you drive down our street.

  7. Pingback: Happy Weekend, Foster People! | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

  8. Ryan says:

    I hope the Walsh Construction & Co team wins. They recently completed the Orchards at Orenco project in Hillsboro, which was also affordable housing and happens to be one of the most energy efficient buildings in the US. Both developers and tenants win when these projects are built with efficiency and healthy indoor air quality as the top priorities. We can only hope for the same with this lot.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2015/09/national_recognition_and_award.html

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  11. Pingback: Could Multi-unit Housing on Foster Help Maintain Affordability? | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

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