Last Wednesday, the KNA Board unanimously voted to refer the question of extending the Kenton Women’s Village (KWV) beyond the initial one-year duration to a neighborhood vote at the next General Meeting in June.
While the city-owned land used for the KWV remains under contract to be sold to Transition Projects Inc (TPI) to build low-income housing, that development is running about 6 months behind schedule, allowing the opportunity for the KWV to extend its operation. The KNA Board intends for neighbors to consider approving up to another year of the KWV in case TPI experiences additional delays.
However, before finalizing plans to go past the current June closing date, project organizers for the KWV have vowed to only continue on with Kenton neighborhood support.
Since the next General Meeting won’t be held until June 13th, the KNA Board also granted a conditional extension for the KWV to occupy the site for 3 additional months in case the neighborhood votes against continuing the project. This would allow Catholic Charities, who manages the KWV, to continue normal operations until the neighborhood vote with time to wind down the project if the vote fails.
All persons that are 18 and over and live, lease, rent and/or own any real property within Kenton are eligible to participate in a neighborhood vote. Details of the June 13th vote have not yet been established but will be sent out to all neighbors via electronic methods, the hand-delivered Kenton Connect and possibly by US mail.
Kenton neighbors voted 178 to 75 in favor of the project last year, approving the transitional women’s shelter pilot program for a year. So far, the KWV, which can house up to 14 women, has helped about a dozen residents transition to permanent housing since opening last June.
As part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Fixing Our Streets program, the city had pegged N Denver from N Lombard to N Watts for repaving. While the repaving was previously announced, PBOT has recently started to look at re-configuring this stretch of N Denver with a protected bike lane after it’s repaved.
Similar to that of SW Broadway at Portland State University, this would entail moving parked cars off the curb to place a protected bike lane between the parked cars and the curb. In the process, some parking would be lost as well as the center lane, but the pedestrian crossing islands would remain.
Last Friday, PBOT went door-to-door between N Lombard and N Watts on N Denver and spoke with roughly 35 people at 20 addresses, finding most neighbors enthusiastic about the project.
The proposal is still being finalized, and PBOT is continuing to evaluate the project. Neighbors can direct questions, comments and concerns to Michael Serritella, Mike.Serritella@portlandoregon.gov, and Mychal Tetteh, Mychal.Tetteh@portlandoregon.gov PBOT will be attending the North Portland Land Use Group meeting on March 22nd, 7pm, at the Historic Kenton Firehouse and the KNA meeting on April 11th, 7pm, at the Historic Kenton Firehouse. They also plan on conducting an open house in April to go over the proposal with neighbors once it is finalized.
Although we had a positive meeting with Prosper Portland and REACH CDC last month and appreciate everyone’s willingness to engage with us, we weren’t able to establish much for a viable option to restore the commercial space to the development of TriMet’s property at 2133 N Argyle.
We had hoped Prosper Portland could help reduce the funding gap, but REACH CDC would have be able to pay prevailing wages first before Prosper Portland could add any support—a chicken-before-the-egg situation.
Ultimately, the decision was made to petition the TriMet Board to assist with finding a solution like maybe doing a land lease over selling the property to REACH CDC. So far, those efforts haven’t warranted a response.
REACH CDC is continuing to move forward with the project without commercial and is preparing to submit their land use application to the city. They are still awaiting some funding awards tied to the housing component, so it’s not completely a go yet. The KNA is looking at having them attend our May meeting.
As for action items, neighbors can contact the TriMet Board directly to support the position of the KNA Board. I was also looking at the next meeting of the N/NE Oversight Committee as another action item, but REACH CDC didn’t end up being on agenda for this month.
If you have any questions, concerns, etc., please contact us.
REACH CDC’s Kenton Housing Development No Longer Mixed-Use
Neighbors Voice Concern about REACH CDC’s Development
Updates on REACH CDC’s Project at 2133 N Argyle St
Following my update on the development of TriMet’s property at 2133 N Argyle St yesterday, REACH CDC has now issued their own update on the project.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the post:
It’s been about a month since the last KNA Board meeting where REACH CDC’s development of TriMet’s property at 2133 N Argyle St was discussed, and I finally have some news to share:
On the first point, I find it extremely significant that the N/NE Community Oversight Committee is speaking out against the current proposal. It sends a clear message that it’s not just neighbors in Kenton that see these changes as a problem and pushes back against what almost feels like a concerted effort to simply just have a project because of affordable housing needs among local bureaucracies.
I’m guessing that officials with PHB aren’t exactly thrilled with the committee, but it looks like the committee has a case here: A key tenet of N/NE Housing Strategy is the it would guided by the community itself, and that community visioning has resulted in previously prioritizing, for example, family-sized units and storefront commercial opportunities.
The N/NE Community Oversight Committee meets next month, and we do know that this project will be addressed. These meetings are public, and we will certainly be spreading the word once the details of the next meeting are known. This will be key action item for neighbors opposed to REACH CDC’s changes to this project.
Looking to Wednesday, our meeting with Prosper Portland should help answer the question of there being hope of any additional funding for this project or not. We’ll absolutely be providing a recap of the meeting at the KNA Board meeting that night, 14th, at the Firehouse, 7pm, and looking at next steps. Yes, I know; it’s Valentine’s Day.
If additional funding looks bleak, the KNA Board might be inclined to move off of looking for more funds to seeking the project delayed, etc. but it’s a tricky situation. The reality is that there isn’t much stopping REACH CDC from going forward with this project beyond public outcry and maybe some pressure on PHB via their oversight committee. If the neighborhood effects tensions with REACH CDC, it might put us in a bad spot trying to work with them on, say, storefront community rooms if they are to move forward.
As always, please contact us if you want to get involved and/or have questions, concerns, etc.
To ensure proper funding for the Kenton Street Fair on May 20th this year, the Kenton Street Fair Fundraiser, which has been set for April 20th from 6:00pm-9:30pm at Disjecta (8371 N Interstate Ave), is in need of donations. Please see the documents below for additional information.
Donations are 100% tax deductible.
Donation wish list:Kenton-Auction-Wish-List-2018
UPDATE: Members of the KNA Board will be meeting with REACH CDC and Prosper Portland on February 14th.
At last night’s KNA Board meeting, dozens of neighbors were given a chance to hear directly from REACH CDC and voice concerns on the changes to their development of TriMet’s property at 2133 N Argyle St.
While neighbors might have differing opinions about the project having some market-rate units or not, neighbors did send a clear message on the commercial space: This should be a mixed-use project.
With retail included, the project is facing roughly a 4 million dollar shortfall. REACH CDC’s solution to this is to use an affordable housing exemption to the state of Oregon prevailing wage law, allowing REACH CDC to receive millions of dollars of public funding without having to pay the wages normally required for public works projects in Oregon. By not paying prevailing wages, REACH CDC can save about 10% in construction costs, closing their funding gap.
This exemption, however, prevents any space intended for commercial use from being built, but REACH CDC still plans to build out the ground-floor retail as community spaces. Unless Oregon state law were changed, REACH CDC could never convert this space to actual retail or charge any rent for it.
REACH CDC was clearly looking for ideas how they could activate these ground-floor community rooms from neighbors, but those in attendance had little interest in partaking in that conversation. Frankly, it’s hard to envision storefront community spaces not turning out to be more empty storefronts.
The big misstep here is that REACH CDC wasn’t coming to neighbors to figure out how they should proceed with the project; they were here to tell neighbors what had already been decided. It’s now late in the process, and options appear limited.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost. REACH CDC was receptive to working with the KNA in engaging Prosper Portland, for example, in looking for additional public funds.
The KNA Board will be looking at sending letters to TriMet and Prosper Portland in the coming days along with establishing meetings with REACH CDC and government officials.
Want to get involved? Contact us!
Following up on their presentation at last year’s KNA General Meeting in June, REACH CDC has announced two significant changes to the planned development of TriMet’s property at 2133 N Argyle St across from Nelson Plaza: Converting the project into 100% affordable housing, removing a mixed-income component, and eliminating any commercial space, scraping a mixed-use element.
The project is facing a multi-million dollar funding gap, and these modifications allow for an exemption to Oregon’s prevailing wage law required for projects that receive considerable public funding. However, while allowing REACH CDC to reduce labor costs to stay within their budgetary restrictions, these changes represent a vast departure from the original guidelines for the project.
In TriMet’s Request for Statement of Qualifications (RFQ) for the project that REACH CDC was awarded, TriMet noted that they sought “a development team to provide mixed-use building(s) with both market rate and affordable housing, and a ground-floor retail presence to create an active street frontage.”
While TriMet offered flexibility in the mixed-income aspect by only requiring that at least 25 percent of the units be affordable, TriMet was very clear that project must include “improved availability of retail goods and services near transit station.”
TriMet’s goals for the project tied back to a study by Prosper Portland that, as pointed out in the RFQ, found that this property was “recommended to be the first of a potential phased development plan that would dramatically change N. Argyle Street into a dense node of activity at the north end of the Kenton downtown.”
Hoping to keep the project moving forward, TriMet has lifted the commercial activity requirements.
After discussing the matter at last month’s KNA Board Meeting, the KNA Board issued a statement to REACH CDC in which the KNA Board took the following positions based on current information:
We would rather wait for the right development at 2133 N Argyle St over having the wrong development happen now since this project will impact the neighborhood for years to come.
We believe the Prosper Portland studies and the TriMet RFQ provided a clear vision for the right development for 2133 N Argyle St and strongly supported the original proposal by REACH CDC.
We disagree with TriMet’s decision to allow the removal of commercial space, disconnecting this site from the Kenton business district and no longer activating the “gateway” to the neighborhood.
We desire a mixed-use, mixed-income project at 2133 N Argyle St and are unsure that 100% affordable housing is the right fit for this project given the planned low-income housing facility at 2221 N Argyle St.
REACH CDC intends to attend the next KNA Board Meeting, which all neighbors are encouraged to attend, on January 10th, 7pm, at the Historic Kenton Firehouse (8105 N Brandon Ave) to begin discussion with neighbors about these changes to the project. As well, the Portland Housing Bureau, which granted significant funds to REACH CDC, will be having their N/NE Oversight Committee discuss the REACH CDC project with a public comment period on the 11th at the New Song Community Center (220 NE Russell Street) at 6pm. Mayor Wheeler is expect to be in attendance.