New Argay Neighborhood Association board members, <a href=

New Argay Neighborhood Association board members, from left, Doug Cook, Bill Lindekugel and Craig Tolonen listen to land use chair Al Brown’s presentation during January’s meeting.
Memo photo/Tim Curran

Last month, most of the seventy people attending the Argay Neighborhood Association general meeting were there to hear an update on Castlegate, the proposed apartment development at the east end of their neighborhood. The three-acres of former farmland lies between the Parkrose Chateau retirement community and Argay Downs condominiums. It connects to Northeast 148th Avenue on the east and abuts dead-end streets Rose Parkway and Morris Court to the west.

With no through streets, the overriding concern of Argay Terrace residents is to keep additional cars out of the low-traffic neighborhood. From the start, neighbors have stridently opposed opening either street, preferring Northeast 148th Avenue the development’s only access. To his chagrin, Monte Vista Homes owner Chet Antonsen discovered this in late 2013 when he presented a plan, which included opening both streets, to more than 250 people (“Argay Angry over farmland development” MCM January 2014).

Antonsen said later he would rather not open either street, but the city will not approve a plan without connectivity. Translation: open either Morris Court or Rose Parkway to create a connection to 148th Avenue that routes the added traffic in and out of the neighborhood through the apartment complex.

Familiar with the area, Antonsen not only lived in Argay Terrace before moving to Bend, but also said he is sympathetic to neighborhood concerns. “Over the last 20 years, based on my relationships with the Rossi, Cereghino and Calcagno families, I’m responsible for 90 percent of new construction in the 97230 zip code,” he said. “I know the area, and want to do the least harm, but I also want to develop.”

Exacerbating the situation, the neighborhood association was in flux throughout 2014, evolving into disarray over this and other issues with board additions and subtractions before recently stabilizing with new, volunteers on the board.

Developer Chet Antonsen proposes to develop the Castlegate Apartments on three acres of former farmland in the Argay Terrace neighborhood. The 56-unit complex has seven buildings of eight units with townhouse and garage at both ends of every building.

Developer Chet Antonsen proposes to develop the Castlegate Apartments on three acres of former farmland in the Argay Terrace neighborhood. The 56-unit complex has seven buildings of eight units with townhouse and garage at both ends of every building.

Like Al Brown, also elected land use chair in October. Not only a longtime Argay Terrace resident, he is a principal real estate broker since 1978, and 25-year property appraiser who has expertise and familiarity with vagaries of the city’s zoning codes. “What I’d like to see is we get this [development] over with and support what he’s going to build,” Brown said in an interview. “There are very few people with their feet planted saying ‘no apartments,’ they accept that the site is zoned that way.”

After consulting with Brown, Antonsen submitted a plan in October the ANA endorsed. It called for blocking both streets permanently by constructing apartment buildings in front of them. A simple and permanent solution allowing the developer to build the complex he wants, and keeps new traffic from the neighborhood. “Now, if we can only get the city to agree.” said Brown.

However, shortly after getting the ANA endorsement, Antonsen submitted the plan for a preliminary review by Kurt Krueger of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. He was told the bureau would be unlikely to approve the plan.

Antonsen then told Brown in a January email he is amending the plan. Antonsen still keeps both streets blocked, but wants to relocate a building to retain the potential to open Morris Court someday in the future. “… I don’t feel it is being a good neighbor to land lock another neighbor [Parkrose Chateau] and I don’t believe it is in the best interest of the overall neighborhood,” Antonsen said in his email. “It will not be my proposal to further improve Morris Court but to just allow the space that if it ever became necessary the street connection can be made.”

Brown responded the association is sticking to the plan created by Antonsen and endorsed by the group that permanently blocks both streets. “While the revision doesn’t open Morris Court,” said Brown “It doesn’t prevent it from being opened by Antonsen, or more likely by a subsequent owner of his property for his use.” Brown added that the city also wants Antonsen to extend Morris Court—at the developer’s considerable expense—to reach what PBOT considers vacant land ripe for future development “This isn’t a separate site or parcel,” Brown said. “It is just part of a single lot occupied by the Chateau building.”

Brown said Morris Court is a short narrow street that is not only steep, but also has a 90-degree turn that causes near collisions for the half dozen residents who use it regularly. “I’m not sure that Mr. Krueger has made an inspection of the site and the linkages he wants to create,” Brown said. “I don’t see how anyone who has been on that street can think it can carry any additional traffic.”

Brown summed up his and Antonsen’s frustration, “Usually, new development in a Portland neighborhood means a battle between neighbors and developer. In this case, we’ve been working with a developer willing to work with us,” he said. “We’ve both made compromises to arrive at a plan that works, but now the city stands in the way. We are at a loss as to why this development can’t just move forward.”