Bridge Housing Tops Out $84M Affordable Project in OR

A housing development named for Vera Katz, an inspiring local leader, is nearing completion in Portland. It will offer much-needed rental housing to low-income families and homeless military veterans.
The Vera

San Francisco-based Bridge Housing has topped out a 203-unit affordable housing development in Portland, Ore., and announced a name for the property that had been known as RiverPlace Parcel 3. The community, located at 2095 S.W. River Parkway in the city’s Puget Sound University-Lovejoy submarket, will be called the Vera. The name is an homage to the late Vera Katz, a three-term Portland mayor and the first woman to serve as the Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives.

One of the main challenges was the rising cost of construction, about 14 percent per year,” Bridge Housing Vice President of Communications Lyn Hikida told MHN. “The Bridge team was able to mitigate this through two rounds of value engineering on the building during predevelopment, including significant design changes in the first round. In addition, Bridge and its partners worked hard to close construction financing before new tax legislation took effect in January 2018.

The development grew out of a joint effort between the Portland Housing Bureau and Prosper Portland to develop an 88,000-square-foot parcel owned by Prosper Portland. Bridge Housing was selected to develop the parcel four years ago.

A playground and landscaped courtyard, two laundry rooms, a community room with kitchen, resident services and community learning space are among the common-area amenities of the Vera.

Built to inspire, strengthen

Katz inspired many with her leadership and commitment to public service, noted Bridge Housing president and CEO Cynthia Parker. “It is our intention that the new building will similarly inspire and strengthen the community,” she added.

The topping out ceremony held in early February signaled the completion of the 13-story building’s top-most structure. Of the Vera’s 203 affordable apartments, 90 will be reserved for households earning 0 to 30 percent of the Median Family Income (MFI), currently up to $19,500 for a family of two. Seventy of the apartments will come with Project-based Section 8 vouchers, and 10 will be reserved for homeless veterans using the VA Supportive Housing (VASH) program. The remainder of the residences will serve households earning up to 60 percent of MFI, or $48,840 for a family of four.

The $83.9 million project’s financing is being provided by the Portland Housing Bureau, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Prosper Portland, Home Forward, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), National Equity Fund Inc., KeyBank Community Development Lending and Barings Multifamily Capital. Ankrom Moisan Architects is the architect of record, while Hoffman Construction is serving as general contractor.

This project provides a range of much-needed housing options for families and veterans, and offers deep affordability in a close-in, amenity-rich neighborhood. I’m very excited for the families who will have a place to call home here very soon, close to transit, work, school and opportunities,” said Portland Housing Bureau director Shannon Callahan.

Bolstered by robust population gains, Portland remains one of the strongest and most stable multifamily markets in the U.S., according to a recent market report by Yardi Matrix. In 2018, multifamily completions exceeded the previous year’s deliveries, yet occupancy rates in stabilized properties increased only slightly over 2017—a sign that the demand for rental housing in the metro continues to outpace supply.

Rendering courtesy of Ankrom Moisan Architects