An architectural drawing shows the mixed-use housing planned for a vacant lot on the corner of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Rosa Parks Way. For-sale townhomes are scheduled for construction this year with three story condominiums coming in the fall of 2012.
In the depths of a sour economy, with its chill on land development, a long-stalled project on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Rosa Parks Way has finally moved forward.
The Portland Development Commission recently approved a contract with Tom Walsh Jr. and Serena Cruz Walsh for what is now called the King/Park project. It is a two-stage, multi-use project for a long-vacant parcel of land.
In the first phase, Walsh will develop 16 for-sale townhouses on the west end of the lot, facing Garfield Avenue, for first-time home buyers in cooperation with the non-profit Proud Ground.
Buyers will be able to purchase the homes at well below market rate. As part of the sales agreement they must, if and when they sell, provide Proud Ground the right to buy the homes back at an agreed-upon rate. This will provide the homeowner with a return on their investment, but keep the homes permanently affordable. Construction is planned for this year.
The second phase will consist of three buildings, each three stories tall, containing a total of eight condominium units and a total of 7,000 square feet of commercial space facing MLK. Construction for this phase should begin by September 2012.
PDC is contributing $3.5 million toward the $7 million project, and is donating the land subject to certain terms. To achieve the benefits of the development, including the low cost to the home buyers, “We need to not only offer the land at no cost but add a subsidy,” said John Warner, a PDC staff member.
In 2005, PDC offered the property to Tom Walsh Sr. for a similar project called Piedmont Place, but he was unable to bring the project to fruition. (Phase II of that proposal called for buildings four stories tall with a total of 51 units facing MLK.)
Walsh Jr. thanked the Piedmont Neighborhood Association, who had participated in the planning of the project and given input to it, for their “patience.”
“It’s exciting to see this project move forward in these tough economic times,” PDC Commissioner Steven Straus said. “Martin Luther King is a very important street. Aesthetics of the highest sort should be maintained for this project.”
PDC Commission Chair Scott Andrews, added, “This is a great project.”