The stretch of North Interstate Avenue near Prescott Street stop looks like an urban planner's dream. The road curves gently, two car-traffic lanes framing the light-rail tracks in the middle. Storefronts varying in height and style line the street, with homes just blocks behind them.
Slotted in next to the rail stop, fitting as neatly as a puzzle piece, are the Prescott Apartments.
A U-shaped mixed-use development, the Prescott is sleek and modern. Its apartments feature floor-to-ceiling windows and wood flooring. The building's halls are cream-colored, with subtly patterned gray carpeting underfoot.
The Prescott's 9,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space faces a nearby MAX Yellow Line stop, providing businesses exposure to transit riders. On the other side of the building, the first floor is residential and faces other residential structures.
The south-facing courtyard is in its final stages of completion and will include bocce ball and pickleball courts, as well as access to an exercise room and outdoor barbeque.
While it's set to open Dec. 1 and prospective tenants are showing interest, those involved in the project say it's impressive the Prescott ever materialized.
"It's kind of a zombie project," joked Bob Boileau, principal with Myhre Group Architects.
Boileau, who co-led a hard hat tour of the new development in October, was referencing the period in between 2009 and 2011 when the project lay dormant due to a funding crisis.
"It's your typical story of buying land before the recession," said Roger Collins, co-owner of the Prescott. "The whole financing world changed in 2009. Conventional financing was no longer available."
Plans for the Prescott were shelved before construction even began. Collins, who is the chief executive officer at Washington-based Sierra Construction Company, said seeking alternate financing was a long, grueling process.
Finally, with financing from Metro and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and new investors buying out Collins's original partners, he and Sierra were able to move forward with the Prescott, which is drawing to the close of its 17-month construction.
The Prescott received funding from Metro's Transit Oriented Development program, which provides economic incentives for private developers to invest in high-density, mixed-use projects near transit hubs. TOD funding contributed $400,000 of the total development cost – approximately $29 million.
"Funding from Metro really made this project economically viable," Collins said.
Residents of the Prescott, as well as people patronizing its commercial units, have to cross only one lane of traffic to reach the Prescott Street MAX station, which links to the Expo Center, downtown Portland and Portland State University.
Residential developments located along transit lines like the Prescott will become more highly valued by the young adult demographic with time, as car use and ownership among 16 to 34-year-olds continues to decline nationwide.
While the transit element, as well as outdoor sport and exercise amenities, will presumably attract young, active residents to the Prescott, Collins noted that the apartments have an assortment of floor plans suitable to a variety of family structures and living arrangements.
The Prescott leases 20 percent of apartments with each floor plan at a fixed rental rate to residents who qualify for affordable housing based on income.
"The units range from efficient studios up to 2-bedroom, 2-bath corner units," Collins said. "I wouldn't say we're targeting a particular demographic."
Rents in the Prescott's apartment units will start at $1,004 to $1,455 per month, with the affordable housing units falling between $745 to $960 monthly.
The Prescott has residential units leased in advance of its opening next month, and is in negotiations with potential commercial tenants.
Collins is pleased with the level of interest shown in a project that came close to never existing at all.
"It's certainly being received well," he said.