More than 150 community members and dignitaries attended the grand opening of the new Gilman Court apartment complex July 20 at the building, 610 N.E. 99th Ave.
Speakers at the free event included Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer; Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman; Dan Valliere, REACH’s executive director; and Roger Hinshaw, market president of Bank of America’s Oregon and SW Washington divisions.
In addition, Gilman’s two surviving daughters, Maggie Gilman Holm and Cadie Gilman also delivered moving tributes to their father, Dennis Gilman. The recently completed 60-unit, $15.8 million complex for low-income seniors 55 and over was named after Gilman, co-founder and first director of REACH Community Development Corporation, the nonprofit that owns and developed the building. Gilman passed away in 2001.
Other dignitaries at the event included former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts, State Senator Michael Dembrow and a representative from Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s office. “It was really, really wonderful,” said Laura Recko, public relations manager for REACH. “It was fun and festive. It was just fantastic to have the Gilman family there.”
Gilman’s daughters brought many family members and friends to the event. “[Maggie’s speech] about her father was one of the most moving tributes I’d ever heard about anyone,” Recko said. “There were many people in the audience who knew Dennis in the days when REACH started. It was like going back to our roots 30 years ago. [Maggie and Cadie] were just incredibly moved that REACH had made this gesture toward their dad. You could tell it was very meaningful for them.”
Blumenauer, who was a neighbor and friend of Gilman’s in those early years, also spoke.
During the event, REACH offered the public self-guided tours of two of the vacant units. All but one of the 60 units has been rented. The remaining vacant unit is designed for someone who is hearing-impaired. “We really want to find somebody who the unit is appropriate for,” Recko said. Anyone interested in obtaining more information about that apartment may call the Gilman Court property manager, Jill Scheckla, at 971-277-7196 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seniors earning 30 to 60 percent of the area’s current median family income—$15,450 to $30,900 for single-family households—are eligible for one-bedroom apartments at the complex. Four of the units are renting for $325 a month, plus utilities. The others are renting for $540 to $605 a month, plus utilities.
People interested in being placed on a waitlist for any units that become vacant in the building may call Scheckla, who is also the property manager for Glisan Commons Phase 1, a 67-unit, five-story building of workforce housing next door, owned by Human Solutions. Ride Connection, a transportation service provider for seniors and people with disabilities, occupies Glisan Common’s main floor. Human Solutions provides resident services for both buildings.
During Blumenauer’s speech, he mentioned how 30 years ago Portland had all the issues that many cities today wish they had. Many people want to live in Portland, but as with many larger urban areas, that influx of residents can create issues for the city and its people. He noted that REACH has stayed true to what it started out trying to accomplish and true to Dennis Gilman’s original vision: creating a place where people could afford to live, work and ride on public transportation in a more livable Portland. “We’re trying to make it livable for all different types of ethnicities and income ranges of people,” Recko said.
Coincidentally, during the event, Cloudburst Recycling pulled up to empty the garbage for the building. Dennis Gilman was involved in early recycling efforts in the city. “A company from 30 years ago is still around, and we’re still around, and it was just a testament to some of those companies [still existing and thriving],” Recko said. “We’ve been in partnership with them for a long time.”
Saltzman in his speech referenced the crisis in affordable housing in Portland, noting that Portland is one of the least affordable markets in the nation. “He talked about how it’s great that there are organizations like REACH and projects like this one, and [he said] we need to do more to help solve this problem,” Recko said.