The Abigail for BRIDGE Housing: Affordable Housing in the Pearl

Construction began last week on a project that will bring 127 affordable housing units to the Pearl District.

BRIDGE Housing, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, in 2013 announced its plans to build The Abigail on Block 27, at the corner of Northwest Raleigh Street and 13th Avenue. The six-story building will have 155 total units; its affordable ones will be available to tenants who make between 30 and 60 percent of the area’s median family income, said Lyn Hikida, director of communications and media for BRIDGE Housing. Currently, that range is between $20,800 and $41,640 for a household of four people.

“The things we love about Portland, we want available for everyone in Portland,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “That’s why the mix – affordable units and market-priced units – in the Pearl is so important. It goes to what I’m always saying about fairness in our community, and about complete neighborhoods.”

Alison McIntosh, government relations and communications liaison with Oregon Housing and Community Services, said eight of the units in The Abigail will be reserved for families earning less than 30 percent of the area median income, 27 units will be reserved for families earning less than 50 percent and 92 will be reserved for families earning less than 60 percent. Of the 27 remaining apartments, 26 will be market rate and one will be reserved for an apartment manager.

“We’re thrilled by the opportunity to partner with others on The Abigail and bring much-needed affordable housing for families in the Pearl,” BRIDGE Housing CEO Cynthia Parker said. “We’re especially excited to be working with Impact NW, our educational and social services partner, to create programming that will best serve the residents.”

Through the partnership with Impact NW, a private nonprofit, The Abigail will offer residents evidence-based programs tailored to meet tenants’ individual needs, Hikida said.

“Typically, our projects offer programs that expand residents’ educational opportunities and financial security, provide access to health and wellness resources and service, build community and connect them to safety net resources,” she said.

The anticipated completion date for the apartments is May 2016. BRIDGE Housing is already accepting names from prospective tenants who want to be placed on a list of people interested in applying, Hikida said.

The six-story, mixed-use building will include studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. More than half will have two or three bedrooms.

“(Rent in Portland) has gotten really, really crazy recently, so we’re very excited about this project,” Portland Housing Bureau Director Traci Manning said. “As an organization (BRIDGE Housing has) a really great reputation, and (its) application was very strong.”

The $48 million project was funded in partnership with the Portland Housing Bureau, Oregon Housing and Community Services, National Affordable Housing Trust, Energy Trust of Oregon and Wells Fargo Bank. The PHB provided a $12.6 million loan, and OHCS provided $12 million in tax-exempt bonds as well as $163,976 via a low-income weatherization program grant, Hikida said.

The building will feature a landscaped courtyard, a children’s play area, a community room, a laundry room on each floor, secure bicycle parking with a tool-equipped area for repairs and underground car parking.

“We felt like we could bring a lot of value to the area,” Hikida said. “We’re pretty excited about the project.”

The Abigail – named after late women’s rights activist Abigail Scott Duniway – is BRIDGE Housing’s first new construction project in Portland. The company has been developing and managing affordable housing in California for about 30 years.

“In 2012 we created a five-year strategic plan with an initiative around geographic expansion,” Hikida said. “Our CEO, Cynthia Parker, has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, so it felt natural coming to Portland.”

Earlier this year BRIDGE Housing purchased the 111-unit Woodland Park Apartments in Hillsboro. The complex is completely affordable housing for senior citizens and people with disabilities, Hikida said.

The company also is weighing whether to purchase the former Salvation Army building at 139 S.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and redevelop it into 12 stories of affordable housing.