Re: 11-story building to displace low-income residents in Kenton

Trena Sutton

I Talked to an architect that has  worked with developers on multiple apartment complexes.  He advised me that one bedroom units  usually have 600 to 650 ft.². For additional bedrooms there’s usually 150 ft.² per unit   If they do indeed put in all these amenities like an indoor play structure and gym  you could extrapolate using the proposed 25,000 ft.² estimate of total room. 

 I had talk to both PCR I and Cascadia and they all have air conditioning. I agree that he is an absolute necessity and we only have to remember a short time back at how serious the heat situation was here in Portland.   I know Cascadia includes  an allowance for electrical needs.  Did any of the people at this virtual meeting ask about weatherization details of this proposed building? 

 I saw the schematics for Bybee Lake Hope Center (formally Wapato) and that was  600,000 ft.². It was clear as to the size of each room. The 600,000 ft.². It was clear as to  Original architectural plans We’re not as exact as  The schematics but more for restructuring the vision.  The developers should be able to supply the square footage of each of the units whether they be Studios, One or two bedrooms.  

On Mon, Jul 19, 2021 at 5:17 PM Taffy Everts <taffy@...> wrote:

FYI, these are not luxury units. They are so-called “affordable” studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments that will rent for 60% of the local AMI, and supposedly that will be true for 60 years.


At the Kenton Neighborhood Association (KNA) Board meeting last Wednesday, John Wright, of Wright Architecture, which designed the building, presented a quick version of the slide presentation he made for the Design Commission review in late May. A representative of the developer, Attainable Development LLC, was also there to answer questions.


As with all KNA meetings since the pandemic started, this meeting was held virtually over Google Meet, which probably cuts down on the number of attendees—especially folks who aren’t comfortable in online meetings. None of the 14 current residents who will lose their low-income housing to make way for the new building seemed to be in attendance, so no one directly affected was there to protest.


Comments by board members, both out loud and in the chat, seemed to indicate that many had no serious objection to the building. At least one board member commented that Kenton would maybe have too many low-income apartments on N Argyle if this building was built. (Renaissance Commons and Argyle Gardens are already on the street.) Some folks were concerned about the lack of parking, but others liked the idea of forcing residents to use other means of transport. Austin Turner, the developer’s rep, said people would have to accept the fact that having a car would be a problem if they chose to rent in the building.


The size of the building bothered some board members, who called it out of place in the Kenton neighborhood, where no building is over 6 stories tall (and most are from 1 to 4 stories). On the positive side, one board member commented that the building would be “A much better "welcome" to the neighborhood than currently exists. I think a beautifully designed building that offers 290 units of affordable housing is a great statement for the spirit of Kenton.” Not everyone agreed with that assessment.


More info about the project:

  • All building entrances and units are accessible to people with disabilities
  • Multiple amenity spaces include laundry, bike room, gym, outdoor playground, private and communal terraces, and a rooftop garden.
  • The architect was unsure whether units would be air conditioned (KNA Board members agreed AC was a must.)
  • Developers don’t yet own the two lots at 1810 and 1838 N Argyle; they need approval from the Land Use Commission for the project before investors will put up the $$ for purchase
  • Austin Turner said the developers have plans to purchase the other lots in the same block—a closed strip club (the “Dancing Bare”) and two single-family homes)—and to build mixed-use commercial & residential buildings there. (Note that, unlike the 1810 & 1838 lots, which are zoned RM4d, these other lots are zoned CM2dm (commercial mixed-use) and are within the Kenton Conservation District.)
  • Developer will participate in the N/NE Preference Program to give preference to people displaced from those neighborhoods.
  • Developer will accept Home Forward vouchers

Again, a drawing of the building “in situ” and more details are on the KNA website:


From: <> On Behalf Of robert greene
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2021 3:34 PM
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] 11-story building to displace low-income residents in Kenton


an 11 story building is going to be hot. Will the building be air conditioned? Who will pay for the air conditioning? How will the building be heated and who will pay for the heating? There are a lot of vacant apartments in Portland.  The market is mainly building luxury units that are unaffordable.  Time to think of housing is a human right and the need for public housing.


On Mon, Jul 19, 2021 at 3:16 PM Elise Aymer <elise@...> wrote:

Hi Taffy,


That sounds about right in terms of what I've seen a bunch - developer maximizing units (that are badly needed with the housing crunch) at the expense of usable living and storage space plus important features such as windows.


Could you update us on what happened at the recent community meeting on the project? Others on the listserv had offered suggestions for questions to ask of the developer, etc.





On Mon, Jul 19, 2021 at 5:23 PM Taffy Everts <taffy@...> wrote:

Elise, I’ve seen the architect’s slide show, which has horizontal cross-sections of some of the building’s floors, but neglected to take screen shots of them so can’t send the floor plans. Here’s what one architect (not part of the project) thought of the presentation:


The super long narrow units will lack light and the bedrooms will end up feeling like walk-in closets due to no windows. The balconies are great to have but can just become a storage space if storage within the unit has been removed. The modular design is also a concern, but the material quality they are using seems nice and they did a decent job of dealing with a sloped site.


We do know that the building is 11 stories and “roughly” 290 units. That’s an average of 26 apartments per floor. Don’t know the square footage of the apartments, but the building site is 25,000 square feet. That could mean an average of less than. 960 square feet per apartment; we know they’ll be a mix of studios and 1- and 2-bedroom places.


From: <> On Behalf Of Elise Aymer
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2021 5:19 PM
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] 11-story building to displace low-income residents in Kenton


It would be good to be able to get the floor plans for the development. My "favorite" (being sarcastic) model is one in which the apartments are thin, interlocking L shapes for which the fairly unusable entryway/hallway is counted in the square footage. 


I hope for better with this complex. I've appreciated everyone's posts delving into what affordable housing means with new developments like these and what accommodations are available for those displaced as well as for other residents. Seems very much part of the story of homelessness and housing people.




On Thu, Jul 15, 2021 at 8:06 PM Trena Sutton <thegirlsok@...> wrote:

Anytime a person is required to give up their domicile can be disconcerting. If they can be informed of the inducements of any potential housing could ease the stress of moving. Such a large development would be intimidating to many (including me) but if the current renters were given assurances to alleviate their doubts would be a step in the right direction. The Development Company gave some assurances and the fact they are getting tax incentives and are now on record helps. I wonder if the media could dig deeper. This is a Goliath undertaking and worth their attention. Taffy, thanks for all you are doing for the folks effected.


On Thu, Jul 15, 2021, 4:43 PM Taffy Everts <taffy@...> wrote:

Trena, the developer’s rep said last night that the project would participate in the N/NE Preference Policy, and will give preference to folks who were displaced from North & NE Portland. But I’ve recently heard that the current tenants aren’t interested in living in the new building: “Nobody here wants to live in a box with no parking and higher rent.”


Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the proposed floor plans, but the apartments appear to be long, narrow boxes with a floor-to-ceiling window and balcony at one end. I don’t know the square footage.


ßHere’s what the building will look like. FYI, the developer is “Attainable Development LLC.”


Apartments will be accessible to people with disabilities. The architect wasn’t sure they’d be air-conditioned.

Thanks again for all your help!



From: <> On Behalf Of Trena Sutton
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2021 3:10 PM
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] 11-story building to displace low-income residents in Kenton


You are probably aware of the N/NE displacement Affordable Housing Program. People that can prove they lost their housing in North and Northeast Portland qualifies. It depends who is going to be the Admin. Home Forward would have this information.




On Wed, Jul 14, 2021, 3:01 PM Taffy Everts <taffy@...> wrote:

I’ve just done a little online research and am not sure tenants displaced by the 11-story building project qualify for reimbursements under the Uniform Relocation Act (URA) because as far as I can tell the developer is a private corporation, not the city or county or a public corporation. However, something called Mandatory Renter Relocation Assistance might apply:


AFAIK, these are 1-time payments, not ongoing support.




From: <> On Behalf Of Joseph Purkey
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2021 10:24 AM
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] 11-story building to displace low-income residents in Kenton


Isn't there a similar local requirement when you evict a tenant? Are there two fund sources these current tenants will get to relocate? Also, are the HUD and local funds one time payments that help with moving expenses, or ongoing support to help afford a replacement unit that is more expensive?





On Wed, Jul 14, 2021, 9:59 AM Trena Sutton <thegirlsok@...> wrote:

Perfect, Thanks


On Wed, Jul 14, 2021, 8:08 AM Taffy Everts <taffy@...> wrote:

Thanks for this very helpful information, Eli. I will ask the presenter tonight about the URA if no one else brings it up.




From: <> On Behalf Of Eli Spevak
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2021 7:36 AM
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] 11-story building to displace low-income residents in Kenton


The funding package for an affordable housing development of this scale almost certainly triggers HUD's Uniform Relocation Act, which requires that the developer provide financial relocation assistance to displaced residents (or businesses, in the case of commercial relocation).  You could ask the builder if URA applies; I suspect it does.  To understand what those benefits are, look up Uniform Relocation Act online.  Displacement is always a burden, but URA softens it quite a bit.

"Whenever Federal funds are used in a project involving the demolition of real property, a Federal law known as the Unif Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (URA) generally CDBG funds in a project involving the demolition or convers also trigger another Federal law under Section 104(d) of the acquisition, ..."







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