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Volume 16, Issue 3
March 2018


Still vacant after all these years
by Virginia Bruce

The latest design for the affordable housing development, looking to the southwest.

Everyone’s getting used to seeing a big vacant lot at the corner of Murray and Cornell. But that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening there. The long-planned affordable housing development is still on track. The project is being coordinatde by Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH), a non-profit that has developed and manages similar projects around Washington County.

Briefly, the county found itself owning what was left of that corner after they completed work on the Murray/Cornell intersection. The lot was put up for auction in 2013, but no developer came forward to bid. The county formed a team to come up with a creative use for the small property, and finally selected CPAH’s proposal in the summer of 2016.

The original proposal included a retail food court, to be designed and operated by Bethany developer Roy Kim, to satisfy the county’s desire for “a more active, pedestrian-friendly town center.”

However, since the owner of the property that used to house the tattoo parlor was unwilling to sell her lot for affordable housing, they have had to scale back the plan. The latest design increases the number of family-size two and three bedroom apartments, and still has a public plaza area where there will be hookups for a high-end food cart “pod.” It also still has a meeting room that will be available for local residents’ public use.

Because Beaverton annexed the roads along with their below-ground utilities, they required the property to be annexed into the city., which was completed in March 2017.

The latest design for the affordable housing development, looking to the southwest.
The latest design for the affordable housing development, looking to the southwest.

Funding has been the challenge. CPAH’s Housing Development Director, Jillian Saurage Felton, says, “This is a problem facing all affordable housing developers at this time. Most affordable housing is built with some form of tax credit financing, which is purchased by institutional investors to mitigate their federal or state tax obligation. With the decrease in the Federal Tax rate for corporations, the demand for tax credits declined, leading to a decline in the price of those credits. We are so lucky to have such support from the City and the County in this project that we don’t foresee a funding gap at this time.”

They have applied to the county for Federal Block Grant funding. In addition, Felton says, “We will apply for the 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits April 16, and we should hear which applications were awarded credits one or two months after. The next step will be finalizing the architectural design and applying for permits, which should take about 6 to 9 months. Construction, therefore, should begin sometime in early to mid-2019 with a construction time of about 12 months.”

The location is good for affordable “workforce” housing because of its relative proximity to transit and shopping. This type of development is just one way to address the lack of affordable housing in the county. We look forward to further exploration on the part of county leaders.

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Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
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