PORTLAND, Oregon (Portland Tribune) – Mercy Housing Northwest owns and operates 54 affordable housing units in Washington and Idaho – but none in Oregon.
That will change soon, however, as the nonprofit dedicated to “Redefining Affordable and Low Income Housing” has partnered with the Sisters of the Holy Names organization for an affordable housing development on the former. campus of Marylhurst University (which is now called Marylhurst House of Commons). The project crystallized in the years following the final closure of Marylhurst in 2018. On Thursday, October 21, representatives from Mercy Housing, the Sisters of the Holy Names and Carleton Hart Architecture gathered for a virtual community meeting in order to answer a multitude of questions on arrival development.
“We know that Lake Oswego workers struggle to find housing near their workplace,” said Colin Morgan-Cross, director of Mercy Housing Real Estate. “We just believe that long-term affordable housing is essential for vibrant communities. “
Marylhurst University, founded in 1893 and known as Oregon’s oldest Catholic university, closed due to declining enrollment. The site, located along Highway 43 near the West Linn border, is home to 14 existing buildings, five of which are historic landmarks and are not under development. The intention is to replace three existing dormitories and build the housing estate there.
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Late last year, Lake Oswego City Council voted unanimously to approve code changes to allow affordable multi-family housing at Marylhurst Commons. Last June, Mercy Housing received $ 4.25 million in funding for the project from the Oregon Housing and Community Service office.
“We wouldn’t have won this state award if we didn’t have a strong track record with the ability to manage long-term affordable housing well,” said Chris Bendix, developer of the Mercy Housing project.
The community meeting was required by the City of Lake Oswego as part of the project design process and peaked at around 150 participants via Zoom. This videoconference allowed the project team to present more concrete details of the proposal.
The development will consist of between three and four floors, with approximately 100 units that vary from one to three bedrooms. It will also include an indoor community space for various services to adults and children, the latter being offered year-round (including school holidays and summer). Most development families will earn between $ 55,000 and $ 60,000 per year, according to the project team.
“The booming housing market has really been a meltdown for families,” Morgan-Cross said.
Questions from community members ranged from traffic to safety, environmental conservation and future plans elsewhere on the Marylhurst property.
“We know parking and traffic is always a hot topic, for good reason,” said Morgan-Cross, adding that a traffic analysis would be done as part of the design process. “We also know that many workers who live in the building will be using public transit on Highway 43… We are focusing on working families and the building will serve people who are likely already working in the area, which could shorten journeys. “
On the security front, representatives from Mercy Housing said they have seen many of their developments elsewhere become “pillars of the community”.
“A lot of it goes back to our (community) programs,” Morgan-Cross said. “And with that, people will also want to take care of their community. “
Some of the youth programs will be available to the general public and representatives from Mercy Housing said they have contacted the Lake Oswego School District to begin coordinating these efforts.
The development footprint is expected to be similar to that of the old dormitories it will replace, and other buildings and open spaces will not be affected.
“We see this residential community as part of the campus,” said Brian Carleton, director of Carleton Hart Architecture. “We spent a lot of time trying to observe and really absorb campus life.
Sister Maureen Delaney of the Sisters of the Holy Names added that there are no plans for other new buildings on campus, although they are leasing some of the existing structures to nonprofits for some activities.
Going forward, the land use application for the property is expected to be submitted to the Town of Lake Oswego in the coming months. The hope is that construction will begin in the summer of 2022, with the development opening in the fall of 2023.