In April, when Gilman Court opens within the Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal Area, it adds 60 one bedroom apartments for low-income seniors to east Portland's housing inventory. COURTESY REACH CDC

In April, when Gilman Court opens within the Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal Area, it adds 60 one bedroom apartments for low-income seniors to east Portland’s housing inventory. COURTESY REACH CDC

Crews from R & H Colas Construction are currently completing a new complex for low income seniors scheduled to open in April 2015. Starting in January, potential tenants can sign up to pre-lease apartments in the building.

Formerly called Glisan Commons Phase II, the $15.8 million building at 610 NE 99th Avenue was recently re-named Gilman Court is named in honor of Dennis Gilman, the founder and first director of REACH, which was founded in 1982.

The brown and taupe six-story wood-frame building will share a full city block with Glisan Commons Phase I, a 67-unit, five-story building of workforce housing, owned by Human Solutions, that opened in January 2014. Phase I’s ground floor houses the administrative offices of Ride Connection, which opened last summer, employs 47 and is a transportation service provider catering to seniors and people with disabilities.

“’Glisan Commons Phase II’ was always a temporary placeholder for us,” said Laura Recko, public relations manager for REACH Community Development, the nonprofit that owns and developed the building. “We know that Phase I was named Glisan Commons, and we don’t want people to be confused by a similarly-named building right on the same property.”

All 60 units in the new senior building will be one-bedroom apartments available to seniors 55 or over earning 30 to 60 percent of the area median family income, or $14,580 to $29,160 for a single-family household. Four of the units will rent at 30 percent of the median family income, or $325 a month, plus utilities. The other 56 units will rent at about 55 percent of median family income, or $605 to $640 month, plus utilities.

“The building is being designed for seniors to age in place,” Recko said.

With that in mind, special features will be included in the structure, including handrails in the hallways, fully accessible and adaptable units and community gathering spaces, such as a community room, two patios, a community courtyard and a computer lounge.

Construction manager of the building is the Housing Development Center. Designed by Carleton Hart Architects, the structure includes many green features and builders anticipate receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “gold” certification. Some of those eco-friendly extras include a water conservation system, a community garden, healthy indoor environments and participation in the Green Streets program, which involves the city installing a bioswale to treat stormwater run-off in front of the building , Recko said.

A landscaped community courtyard is shared with Glisan Commons I and Ride Connection. Secure indoor bike parking is provided on site.

A 64-space parking lot is shared by the senior complex and the Glisan Commons I residents. An additional 20 parking spots will be available to residents of both complexes during evenings and weekends when Ride Connection employees are not at work.

REACH, which owns and manages 1,892 properties across the metro area and in Washington, provides on-site property management services for both the senior complex and Glisan Commons Phase I, while Human Solutions provides resident services for both buildings. Services include a resident service coordinator, as well as information and referral services, financial counseling, classes and other programs.

The sharing of the two functions between both buildings “is something new for both our organizations,” Recko said. “It’s really about more than just providing a roof over somebody’s head. It’s helping them be successful in their housing. Helping people not be evicted from their housing is one of our number one goals.”

The project uses local tax increment funding. Funding partners include Bank of America, City of Portland, Enterprise Community Partners, Network for Oregon Affordable Housing and Oregon Housing and Community Services.

Countering concerns voiced by some business owners in the area that the elder tenants won’t shop at stores or frequent restaurants in the Gateway area, Recko said, “It’s a vibrant neighborhood. We’re confident that these communities will only add to the vibrancy of the neighborhood and to the economy of the neighborhood. Seniors need to eat, too.”

People interested in renting can email, and they’ll be placed on an email list or they can call 971-277-7196.
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Bank of America provided $8.9 million in low income housing tax credits for the project, according to Lucy Corbett, housing development project manager for REACH.

The Portland Housing Bureau provided a loan composed of $3,165,295 in Tax Increment Financing from the Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal fund and $880,000 in Home Investment Partnerships Program funds for a total of $4,045,295, she said. HOME, a flexible source of funding that the city receives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed to create affordable housing for low income households. “The entire amount is treated as a cash flow loan which means that we split the excess cash flow 50-50 with the Portland Housing Bureau,” Corbett said. “The calculation of this payment will be done every year starting in April 2017, two years after the building opens.”

When that PHB loan matures on March 1, 2070, the balance is due, if it hasn’t already been paid in full through annual cash flow split payments, Corbett said, so that the entire loan is eventually paid off.

Excess cash flow refers to revenues that remain after operating costs and debts on other loans, which take priority over this one, have been paid off by the property, she said.

REACH also received permanent loans of $1,200,000 from the Network for Affordable Housing, which is a local affordable housing lending agency, an $84,000 weatherization grant from the state of Oregon, a $35,000 Enterprise Community Partners grant, a $31,000 city of Portland Green Streets grant, a $550,000 deferred developer fee, and $58,000 in miscellaneous incentives.