A new apartment building will provide affordable housing for those looking to live in Portland’s South Waterfront district this year.  The building is scheduled to open to qualified tenants in mid-November of this year.  The building, called Gray’s Landing, is a $50 million, 209-unit apartment building, and it is named after a local philanthropist, developer and veteran named John Gray.

The building is six stories high and includes subterranean parking.  The Portland Housing Bureau partnered with non-profit REACH Community Development to build the apartments.  When I say affordable, I mean rents range from $480 for a studio to $775 for a two-bedroom unit.  This makes Gray’s Landing about half the cost of The Matisse, the market-rate apartment building across the street from Gray’s Landing.

According to OregonLive.com, “forty-two of the apartments are reserved for low-income vet3erans who have been homeless within the past two years.”

Rents are federally subsidized on those forty-two apartments.  The other apartments were built as work-force housing.  The other apartments were built for people earning between 50 and 60 percent of median family income.  According to OregonLive.com, the Gray’s Landing apartments are “attractive, some with balconies or wooden patios that open onto an interior courtyard, and many on the east side have enviable view over the river.”

Housing project manager at REACH said, “We wanted to ensure that it doesn’t feel like affordable housing.”

REACH has been the owner/developer of the project since 2010.  The building is aiming for a LEED silver certification.  It was designed by Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects with Walsh Construction as the contractor.

The South Waterfront district just recently underwent a largely publicly funded transformation from riverfront industrial to high-density urban neighborhood.  Gray’s Landing represents about half of the affordable housing called for in the transformation plan of the South Waterfront.  OregonLive claims that Gray’s Landing is about six years behind schedule, and some reasons for the delay might include “the recession, problems with developers, and tax dollars that went first to public works projects like the aerial tram and the streetcar.”

Almost half of the $50 million building costs came from the city.  The tax increment funds from the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area funded most of it, and the rest is from tax-exempt bonds and tax credit equity.  According to Susan Emmons, “the building is a significant addition to Portland’s housing stock.”

South Waterfront has easy access to the Veterans Administration Hospital and Oregon Health & Sciences University.  It also provides easy access to supermarkets via streetcar.  The streetcar stops outside the front entrance, and a ground-floor room in Gray’s Landing will serve rent-free as a breakroom for streetcar operators.  Building residents will be able to buy an annual streetcar pass for $15 in return.

REACH headquarters will also live on the ground floor of the building, and VA caseworkers will be in the building 20 hours a week.  The ground floor will also include a large community kitchen and lounge for cooking and budgeting classes.  The building will also contain an exercise room on an upper floor, and about 5,500 square feet of retail space.

The building’s waiting list will be capped at 300 applicants.  The leasing office has currently received about 80 applications.  The building will also have one of the biggest green roofs in Portland, at 22,000 square feet, with solar panels for the hot water system and a central courtyard with vegetable planters, pergolas and innovative stormwater treatments.

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