Whether creating new affordable homes from an old nursing dormitory, breathing new life and hope into a defunct rehabilitation center, or giving an exterior facelift to a 350,000-square-foot retirement community, we know how to engage in meaningful change in our communities, while working within the confines of existing space.
Let’s take a deeper look into some recent examples. The Yaquina Hall affordable housing project in Salem, Oregon may have taken eight years of perseverance, but the payoff will be immeasurable. What was once the home for nurses working at Oregon State Hospital now holds 52 affordable homes for people transitioning out of homelessness.
In 2015, Salem Housing Authority set the plan in motion to convert this historical building from minimalist dorms to full apartments. After years of delays and roadblocks, the project broke ground in late 2021 and completed early April 2023. Built in 1947, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and our teams took care to preserve some of the original attributes. Our teams had to create a marriage of historic elements with current coding and programming goals. You will find original moldings around many of the interior doors, existing heating elements used as design features, and the brick façade restored back to its former glory. The underground tunnel system, which served as a discreet way to transfer patients from buildings on the campus, was one of the first things to be removed, though the Florence Nightingale emblem still hangs proudly above the building’s main entrance.
Innovation and creativity came together to continue this marriage of old and new. For instance, the exterior windows were historic, though in dire need of an upgrade to improve performance and meet current building codes. The search was on for hard-to-find replicas in a time when supply was low. Another hurdle was dealing with radiused angles in the door jambs; to keep the existing door jambs, the teams took extra time and effort lining up new sheetrock to those rounded angles.
In order to create 52 individual homes from the original dorm-layout, we worked closely with the architect to create new living quarters that each hold a full bathroom, kitchen, and space for up to three people to live. All utilities and connections were upgraded to accommodate this as well.
Inside Yaquina Hall, residents will now have access to a coin-operated laundry room and community room. For those with serious and persistent mental illness, the building has offices for wrap-around services, including connections to mental health, behavioral health — anything from drug addiction treatment to schooling.
“This home for 52 people will save lives,” said Mayor Chris Hoy at the grand opening ceremony. “People who are not currently thriving on the streets will be able to thrive.”
Originally constructed in the early 1960s, the Webster Road building in Gladstone, Oregon was originally constructed as a nursing home and most recently served as a juvenile rehabilitation center before closing in 2017. Acquired by Housing Authority of Clackamas County in 2019, the building was soon to be reimagined into a vibrant and active Permanent Supportive Housing community for seniors over the age of 50, opening its doors in summer of 2022.
As the first development completed within Clackamas County that utilizes Metro Affordable Housing Bond funds, and as a part of the Hillside Park Redevelopment Plan, Tukwila Springs Permanent Supportive Housing successfully revitalized the existing site and renovated the building to include 48 residential homes to senior residents who are currently experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming unhoused and/or disabled. Located on several mass transit lines, and now holding 26 new parking stalls, the site proved to be a natural fit for a project of this kind.
The 2.2-acre site is bursting with natural Pacific Northwest beauty in its park-like setting. Part of the new vision for this project included the preservation of multiple large trees on site, which our teams worked carefully around. Access to the natural surroundings is now enjoyed through a large, covered seating area outside, scattered seating throughout the site, and garden beds for community gardening by residents.
The existing 27,000-square-foot single-story building was brought down to its basic structural elements before being built back up into its new purpose. Inside, a large community kitchen, yoga/recreation studio, and community room now complement the mix of 48 studios and single-room occupancy (SRO) units. The units themselves now include a full private bathroom and a food prep area with a sink, fridge, and microwave. Other additions include a laundry room, wellness room, exam room, and meeting and conferences spaces.
Not every project is a full reimagining; some are just a refresh. In the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington, the continuing care retirement community of Emerald Heights is experiencing some exciting growth.
Our teams were brought on to upgrade the façade of their 350,000-square-foot existing campus. Improvements included a whole new roof system- pivoting from shingle to metal roofing in several areas, all new siding, entry canopies, main entry and porte cochere, also all new vinyl windows, exteriors doors, and deck systems, some improved exterior lighting, and upgraded landscaping.
As the buildings were fully occupied throughout construction, we had to approach our work with the utmost consideration for the community residents. Upon leaving for the day, it was imperative not to block windows or patio decks; additionally, scaffolding had to be constructed, moved, and strategized to be as efficient and unobtrusive as possible. Our teams and subcontractors parked off-site and were transported by shuttle to and from the site as needed.
As with any occupied remodel, communication is paramount. Our teams maintained clear communications and coordination with on-site staff and residents to ensure a smooth process.
Part of what makes these upgrades, remodels, and revitalizations so successful is the oversight provided by our in-house Quality team. Without their stringent attention to detail, knowledge, and guidance, we would not be able to consistently outperform local airtightness building standards and provide our clients with the longevity, durability, and overall quality they deserve.
Though it takes a village, we truly believe projects that reimagine existing spaces are just as critical to our community health as new buildings. With thought, diligence, and a healthy dose of creativity, we are proud to partner with clients dedicated to a growing, healthy community base we can all thrive in.