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.
On Sunday, Susan Oliver and I released a statement making public that allegations had been made about illegal activity taking place at the Kenton Women’s Village (KWV). Given the seriousness of some of these accusations that, for example, Catholic Charities might be dismissing and/or ignoring reports of criminal behavior at the KWV, we felt that the Kenton Neighborhood Association (KNA) needed to notify the neighborhood on some level of the situation and would report back once we knew more.
Although it quickly became publicly known, we didn’t speak to the nature of the supposed criminal activity as to not negatively impact any ongoing investigations nor exacerbate assumptions being made about our fellow neighbors. Of course, some were still quick to try to make this a told-you-so moment while others deemed our actions a reckless exercise in judging a vulnerable population and stirring up negative publicity.
Following our release, Catholic Charities reached out to the KNA and put out a press release, revealing that an investigation was taking place and that landlord-tenant law was limiting the ability for the rules and regulations of the KWV to be enforced. By Monday, the media was covering the situation, and the inaugural KWV Steering Committee meeting was working on ensuring the success of the KWV.
So, here’s where we stand:
As always, if you want to get involved, have questions, etc., feel free to contact us.
An update to this has been posted.
On the evening of November 10th, the Kenton Neighborhood Association (KNA) received an email reporting illegal activity occurring at the Kenton Women’s Village (KWV) even while employees of Catholic Charities, who manages the KWV, were onsite. The Portland Police Bureau was included in the email sent to the KNA.
The account contains a written report along with photos and a video and comes from a community houselessness advocate that has associations to the organizing partners of the KWV. As well, this individual has previously participated directly with the KNA on matters of the KWV.
Along with claims of criminal behavior, the report also points out potential breaches of the Partnership Agreement signed between the KNA and the organizing partners of the KWV, which partially includes the Joint Office of Homeless Services, Catholic Charities and the City of Portland Office of Management and Finance.
Furthermore, beyond the firsthand details from the community houselessness advocate, secondhand information from a village resident claims that Catholic Charities has dismissed and/or ignored reports of criminal behavior at the KWV.
The KNA indirectly obtained a response from Catholic Charities on the matter from Executive Director Deacon Richard Birkel.
“Catholic Charities is committed to assuring the wellbeing of villagers and to maintaining a healthy environment for those who reside there,” states Deacon Birkel. “We have gone above and beyond in many areas of management and security, including securing and paying for overnight security that is not reimbursed by our current limited contract.”
While Deacon Birkel’s assurances are appreciated, these allegations are extremely disconcerting and raise significant questions about Catholic Charities ability to properly manage the KWV.
After considerable delay, the inaugural meeting of the KWV Steering Committee, which the KNA is a non-voting member of, is scheduled for this week. We hope to have more information to share once that meeting occurs.
Beyond that, we’ll be working with the KNA’s Board of Directors and the KNA’s Committee on the KWV, along with the general membership of the KNA, to determine the KNA’s next steps in ensuring the health and safety of all neighbors.
Chair, Kenton Neighborhood Association
Board Member, Kenton Neighborhood Association
Chair, Kenton Neighborhood Association Committee on the Kenton Women’s Village
Following significant speculation last year, the IndyCar Series is stopping by the city-owned Portland International Raceway (PIR) on Labor Day Weekend for at least the next three years.
Big news for racing fans, and frankly, I was a bit surprised when the news broke this morning.
As anyone that follows sports in the Rose City knows, Portland often lands on potential expansion destination lists, be it MLB, NFL or, in this case, IndyCar. But unlike those other sports, Indy Car racing via the Champ Car World Series was here as recently as 2007, so when legitimate talk of the IndyCar Series finding its way to Portland started making the rounds, it certainly seemed like a likely possibility. Such so, that the KNA was actually encouraged by some racing enthusiasts with particular objections to IndyCar to take steps to block the IndyCar Series in Portland.
So why the surprise?
It comes down to the infrastructure. While the track itself is in racing shape, the rest of PIR needs work to be an IndyCar stop. “I haven’t been there for six months, but from when I went, I’d say there’s some upgrading that needs to be done because everything there is kinda temporary,” told Tony Cotman of NZR Consulting to Motorsport.com. “So my worry would be that it doesn’t just need a promoter; more like a ‘promoter-plus’ – someone who’s willing to take more of a financial risk.”
I thought that financial risk would make IndyCar in Portland a hard sell, but I was wrong: That promoter-plus emerged as IndyCar and Green Savoree, an Indianapolis-based motorsports event ownership and management company, agreed to cover the expense of needed upgrades.
The track has become a polarizing issue among neighbors, and the response to Indy Car racing back at PIR will likely play out as usual with supporters discarding concerns among neighbors with arguments telling them to move, get used to it or to recognize that PIR was there.
Of course, these debates happen for a reason, and the number of newer Kenton residents that lack PIR nostalgia, don’t have interest in racing and/or are bothered by the noise and pollution happening at a city park keeps growing. Supporters of the track need to recognize that and find ways to engage with those newer residents if the track is to remain successful.
Is IndyCar the answer? I’m not sure.
But we do know that the city is at least talking about neighborhood concerns. While pointing to possible economic benefits, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who oversees PIR through Portland Parks & Recreation, also mentioned a willingness to work with neighbors on noise impacts.
“It is very exciting to see IndyCar racing coming back to the Rose City,” Commissioner Fritz, said today at a press conference. “An event of this magnitude means $12 million to$15 million in revenue to the city, scores of jobs, and an exciting weekend of racing with new cars using clean-burning ethanol for fuel. I also acknowledge that there will likely be noise impacts in nearby neighborhoods. We will work closely with the organizers and the neighborhoods to mitigate the impact.”
The KNA is certainly ready to work closely with the city, and to that end, the KNA is already planning meetings with representatives from Portland Parks & Recreation about the event. Along those lines, following up on concerns raised last year by Speaker Tina Kotek, who lives in Kenton, the city released to the KNA this week findings from lead air testing at the track. The KNA will be seeking out expert assistance in evaluating the results, but in the meantime, the study can be found below:10159-38_PPR_PIR_Lead_Assessment_Report_100517
The annual Trick or Treat on N. Denver Street will be held on Thursday, October 26th, from 5pm – 7pm along N. Denver (& Side Streets) between N. Schofield & N. Argyle! The Kenton Business Association will be featuring Kenton businesses from Lombard and the surrounding area with our Trunk or Treat location in the Hive Tattoo Parking lot!
The 1st annual Tall Paul Fest arrives September 9 12pm–7pm on N Willis Blvd between N Brandon and N Denver!
Get ready to see a restored Paul, have a pint of Widmer Brothers limited edition “Tall Paul Lager” and root on the Timbers in the their live telecast game vs NYCFC.
And get this: Timber Jim is coming out of retirement to cut log slabs during the game!
Slabs will be available to buy in the live auction at half time along with other great items like Danner Boots, 107ist Limited Edition 5th Quadrant Timbers scarves, Miniature Paul Bunyan Dolls and more.
Top bidder in the live auction will have the opportunity to remove the veil from Paul right after the game.
All proceeds go to the restoration and preservation of our beloved icon.
Learn more about the restoration of Paul at PaintPaulPDX
Thank you, Kenton!