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:
- We have received confirmation that the Portland Housing Bureau’s (PHB) N/NE Community Oversight Committee, which oversees the implementation of the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Strategy, has raised concerns about REACH CDC’s changes to the project. In particular, my understanding is that the committee is taking issue with the changes in unit size and the loss of actual ground-floor retail. The PHB awarded REACH CDC $10 million for this project, so they do have a considerable stake in the project.
- Members of the KNA Board will finally be meeting with REACH CDC and Prosper Portland on Wednesday. As established at the last KNA Board meeting, the KNA is hoping to find additional funding for REACH CDC so that they can afford to pay prevailing wages. If prevailing wages are paid, the ground-floor storefronts can used as true commercial space, not community rooms that can never be leased. This funding gap roughly amounts to $4 million. Prosper Portland still owns several adjacent properties to 2133 N Argyle St.
- Neighbors have started an email campaign to the various stakeholders of the project to voice their concerns. It’s a work-in-progress at this point, and the KNA Board hasn’t approved any template letters yet; but we certainly want to support neighbors having their voice heard. We should have some better direction on it after the KNA Board meeting on Wednesday.
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.