Residents will have a chance to preview designs for a new community center and an affordable housing building in the Jade District on March 7, as a partnership among Metro, APANO and nonprofit developer ROSE Community Development advances.
Metro bought this historic furniture store at the intersection of Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street in Portland two years ago with a vision and commitment to develop affordable apartments to rent.
The $16.5 million project is managed by Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development Program, which seeks to partner with the private-sector to create more possibilities for people to live and work near quality transit.
"I'm really proud of work Metro has done,” said Jon Williams, a Metro project planner, “but it's also building on a seed that the Portland Development Commission has planted."
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Jade/APANO Multicultural Space (JAMS)
8114 SE Division, Portland
RSVP online or by phone: 971-340-4861
In the renderings, people will see an outdoor community plaza facing Division Street, a children’s playground, a Chinese garden, and different layouts of 48 apartment units with two and three bedrooms. They won’t see a lot of parking, but they’ll see bike racks and cars that people can rent through car-sharing programs, along with routes for walking and biking.
TriMet’s first high-capacity bus service, the Division Transit Project, will serve this area with its station near the intersection of 82nd Avenue and Division Street starting in 2021.
“To some degree it will be an unveiling for me, too,” said Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE CDC, which acquired the contract from Metro to demolish and oversee the construction of a new building with mixed uses (for housing, office space, and a public plaza).
The first floor of the new building will continue to house a community center, known as the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space, or JAMS, managed by the nonprofit Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), which has been leasing the furniture store from Metro for the past two years.
APANO plans to move its headquarters to the new building when the project is complete.
“Both the layout of the residential first floor and then the space that is going to contain the community center and the APANO offices have become more developed,” Sauvie said.
The developers met with residents last year to get their feedback on initial ideas.
Rosaline Hui, editor of the Portland Chinese Times, said she encourages people to go to all of these meetings. Last year after developers returned with one set of revisions, Hui said residents approached her saying, “Oh, they listened to us!”
Community center grows in popularity, looks toward permanence
About 50 people gathered at JAMS on February 23 for a neighborhood forum about future improvements the Portland Bureau of Transportation will make along Division Street to keep people safe.
The furniture store has been a test site for JAMS, where community members flock for poetry slams, theater performances and other neighborhood forums like this. These events are hosted by APANO, partner organizations or other community groups.
Together, they’ve hosted about 25,000 people a year, according to APANO Associate Director Duncan Hwang.
“This is a great example of reclaiming abandoned buildings that are community eye sores and repurposing for the community,” Hwang said.
Hwang said the fact that this space is heavily used affirms the need for such a space – a need articulated a few years ago through the Portland Development Commission’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, which encourages and supports neighborhood districts to lead in developing their communities.
“The space is lively instead of being vacant,” said Amy Fleck-Rosete, project manager for the Portland Development Commission. “We're really excited about the work that's going on in the Jade District and also Division Midway, which is along the transit project corridor.”
“I love it [there]!” Hui said. “For me, sometimes I organize classes and events in that space, too. If we didn’t have JAMS, we really wouldn’t be able to find a space to get together… The space is not very big, but we rather have this than nothing.”
Other residents who attended the Division Street safety neighborhood forum echoed their deep gratitude for having JAMS as a place to get together to dance or do Tai chi. They love the 8000-square-foot space as it is, with its floor-to-ceiling windows. They’re even more excited for the one that will eventually replace it as a new development arises on the corner.
JAMS has grounded the community, even though some people may not be familiar with its name, said Carol Chan, an APANO community outreach coordinator.
"They call it the old furniture store," she said. "[If you ask] 'Does anyone know the old furniture store?' They're like, 'Yes!' This has become a landmark in the community."
Chan said people are also thrilled for the new apartments.
"Rent prices and home prices have risen significantly, pushing a lot of people out," she said.
Jade District resident Jessica Li worries her family will get pushed out. Her rent has gone up. "It's too high," Li said, adding she hopes she can score an apartment in the new building.
"Everyone wants to know if they qualify and how they get in," Chan said. "This project will stabilize [rent in] the community somewhat, but it's still not enough."
People want to stay in the Jade District, particularly newer immigrants who are drawn to this neighborhood because of restaurants and other businesses in close proximity that reflect their cultural background.
"They can't imagine leaving this neighborhood," Chan said. Families tend to work and send their children to school within walking distance of their apartments, she added. "This neighborhood is their support system. It's their livelihood. It's their bloodline."
Many people within the Chinese community don't have internet or smart phones, Chan added. But they were well aware of APANO’s capital campaign to raise $25,000 to buy the first floor of the new building.
JAMS is so important to residents that they donated in small sums and handed out flyers about the campaign within the neighborhood, Chan said.
Yesterday, APANO met its goal. Other partner agencies, foundations and corporations have provided the rest of the money, totaling $2 million, to buy and build the community space.
ROSE CDC will hold another in meeting in May to share the final design for the project. The nonprofit plans to apply for building permits this spring. Construction is expected to begin at the end of this year and end in late 2018.