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Argyle Apartments – Building in Changing Times

ArgyleAt REACH we believe that everyone deserves an affordable place to call home. Housing affordability is a fundamental issue that is impacting every corner of our community. The rapid rise in rents/home prices and stagnant wage inflation has had the greatest impacts on communities that have long been marginalized in our region, especially communities of color. 

In the Fall of 2015, the City of Portland and State of Oregon declared housing emergencies to address the increasing rate of homelessness and rapid advancement in housing unaffordability. In addition, the City enacted the N/NE Neighborhood Housing Plan with the goals of increasing the inventory of affordable housing and giving preference to applicants who are, or are at risk of, displacement because of gentrification.  REACH strongly supports these goals.  For over a decade, REACH has worked to create opportunities and help prevent displacement of residents in NE Portland through our management of affordable apartment homes and home repair services for low-income homeowners.

About the Argyle Apartments

In Spring 2016 TriMet issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to select a development team to purchase and develop 2.18 acres of land at 2133 N. Argyle Street in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood; with the goal to “maximize density to support increased transit ridership and activate the station area.”  REACH submitted a response to the RFQ and was selected as the developer in September 2016.

Once REACH was selected to develop the site, we created a community outreach plan to obtain feedback from the community to help guide the building’s design and use.  We gathered feedback from the Kenton Neighborhood Association, N/NE Oversight Committee, Kenton Business Association, public meetings, and tenant meetings within REACH’s Northeast Portland properties.

We clearly heard several community priorities during our outreach:

  • Need for larger affordable family apartments (i.e. 2 and 3-bedroom)
  • Not just about buildings, build community
  • Desire for early and broad engagement
  • Creating economic opportunities, such as the participation of minority and women owned businesses, is very important
  • Traffic along Argyle Street is a concern for pedestrian safety
  • General interest and desire for more affordable housing
  • New retail commercial space

  • The community input we received and our existing work in N/NE Portland shaped our primary goals of this project to focus on:

  • Increasing the number of affordable apartments in N. Portland for those displaced or at risk of displacement, serving low-income households earning at or below 60% of the area Medium Family Income (MFI)
  • Provide affordable apartments for larger families by building more two and three-bedroom apartments
  • Create a vibrant space that adds to the vitality and rich history of the neighborhood

  • Since being selected from the RFQ process, several economic changes have occurred that have impacted both the cost of the project and available funding, including:

  • Changes in federal tax policy significantly reduced the value of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), reducing funding by over $2.3 Million.
  • Rapid construction inflation in the region has increased costs by over $8 Million.
  • In addition, Federal funding and policy uncertainty caused the local housing authority to place a freeze on offering any new rental subsidies, typically used to help larger families.

  • These economic impacts have not just affected the Argyle Apartments, but affordable apartment projects across the country and here in Portland - see

    Keeping to our mission of building affordable apartments for the community, while at the same time adapting to these economic challenges and incorporating community input, the Argyle has evolved from our initial concept:

  • Initial conceptual design: 150 units of affordable housing and 65 market rate units (with no three-bedrooms), as well as ground floor commercial space.
  • Current design: 100% affordable with 189 apartments and more family-sized apartments (18 three-bedrooms and 47 two-bedrooms).  The commercial space has been repurposed into community rooms available for external community use.

  • Both TriMet and the Portland Housing Bureau have approved these modifications to the building’s program and support REACH’s efforts to maximize new affordable apartments amidst the City’s growing housing crisis.

    Below are iterations of the design from June of 2017 to January 2018 that illustrate how the building’s program and design have evolved based on the changing environment.

  • PDF 1 – June 2017 – Original site concept presented to community for input
  • PDF 2 – January 2018 - Current Site Plan

  • At REACH we are committed to stretching public resources to meet the housing needs of our community. TriMet, the Portland Housing Bureau, and local leaders in the community, REACH and other developers are working to bring much needed affordable housing to the N/NE Portland neighborhoods for working families and working adults.


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