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Projects We Like: Ithaca and Portland

Below are four projects in Ithaca and Portland, Oregon that appear to be good models for new construction in Buffalo.  Well-designed infill projects from elsewhere could serve as inspiration to developers, architects, and others locally.  They are not the glassy towers that seem to be popping up everywhere,  though there’s a place (many places actually) for those in Buffalo too.

First stop, Ithaca.  If you are a regular visitor to this Finger Lakes community or stop by development blog Ithacating, you will know that this college town has an impressive amount of new projects underway and proposed, most of them “good.”  Above is a three-story, mixed use building being designed by Stream Collaborative for a site on West Seneca Street in Ithaca.  Details from Ithacating:

It is a 3.5 story, 11,526 SF building with 10 units (6 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom), and the two one-bedrooms on the first floor are live-work spaces – the front entrances are workspaces for home businesses. It is proposed along West Seneca Street, and only the south side of West Seneca allowed for mixed-uses like live/work spaces. Materials look to be Hardie Board fiber cement lap siding and trim. The design is influenced by other structures along West Seneca, and a bit from STREAM architect Noah Demarest’s time with Union Studio in Providence, Rhode Island, where he worked before setting up his own practice back in Ithaca.

We’ve profiled a Stream Collaborative-designed project in 2014, Belle Sherman Cottages, here.

The second Ithaca project is proposed for downtown.  City Centre is an eight-story, 177,500 sq.ft. building by Vestal, NY-based Newman Development Group and designed by Humphreys & Partners Architects.  It will contain 10,400 sq. ft. of retail space and 192 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedroom units.  Resident amenities will include gated parking, a roof terrace overlooking The Commons, a private patio viewing Six-Mile Creek, a fitness center and yoga studio, large community/function rooms with fire places, a business center, secure bike storage and Ithaca Car Share access.  Construction is underway and expected to be complete in mid-2019.  M&T Bank lent $47.9 million to the developer.

In Portland, Oregon, Northwest Housing Alternatives is proposing a residential development for a half-block site at 1727 NW Hoyt Street.  The project (below) is within the Alphabet Historic District.

A total of 149 affordable housing units is proposed in three buildings, along with a community room and two open air courtyards.  The historic three-story Buck-Prager Building would be redeveloped and a new four-story building to the south would provide low-income senior housing. The new five-story north building would provide work-force housing.  Carleton Hart Architecture is designing the project which is currently under review by the City.

A previous proposal for the site called for demolition of the Buck-Prager Building, a building originally built as a maternity hospital in 1918 but vacant since 2007.  Because the property is a contributing resource to the Alphabet Historic District, a Type IV Demolition Review was required, ultimately denied by the Portland City Council.

Portland also has an extensive design review process.  The Historic Landmarks Commission, and a sibling board, the city Design Commission, wield a great deal of influence in the design and size of buildings in certain parts of the city.

Also in Portland is a two-building project by Guerrilla Development that would provide housing for formerly homeless individuals, subsidized by market rents in the project’s commercial space and two 750 sq.ft. apartments.  The project, Jolene’s First Cousin, includes two, two-story buildings at 2834 SE Gladstone Street.  One building will contain two retail spaces on the ground floor and two, one-bedroom market-rate apartments upstairs while the second building will have one retail space on half of the ground floor and congregate living for eight individuals on the balance of the ground floor and all of the second floor.

Portland-based Guerrilla Development has made a name for itself in Portland for its bold designs, creative financing, and interesting names.  Owner Kevin Cavenaugh was named 2018 Developer of the Year by the Portland Daily Journal of Commerce.

More on the project from Portland Architecture:

The developer’s latest project, called Jolene’s First Cousin, is visually quite tame. With frequent collaborator Brett Schulz as architect, the project is comprised of a pair of small two-story buildings sitting side by side in Southeast Portland’s Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood south of Powell Boulevard and comprising just 6,500 square feet on a 50 x 100-foot lot, they seem to mostly recall a kind of neighborhood storefront vernacular that exists outside of the downtown core on boulevards and avenues acting as retail centers for otherwise residential neighborhoods. There are no arresting primarily colors and nothing too challenging about the forms.

Instead, Cavenaugh and Guerrilla are saving their boldness for the development approach and the social mission behind it, and the crowdfunding financing plan first utilized with the Fair-Haired Dumbbell (which inspired a popular New York Times story).

Quite simply, Jolene’s First Cousin is a mixed-use affordable housing project that doesn’t use a dime of public subsidy. Instead, this small development’s 750-square foot market-rate apartments and the ground-floor retail are intended to privately subsidize eight micro-sized apartments with shared showers and kitchen — basically single room occupancy. Guerrilla sees this as a way for some homeless or nearly-homeless people to make the transition back into permanent housing and as catering an under-served market of renters, largely young people but potentially retirees as well, willing to trade square footage for a more centralized urban location.

Cavenaugh began by developing smaller buildings on cheaper lots that he could finance with smaller chunks of money and has been taking his message on the road.  He challenges developers to look beyond the typical formula for creating the “highest and best use” for a site.  Speaking at a ULI Minnesota event, he described how bigger is not necessarily better, and oftentimes it is worse, in terms of the complexity and risk.  The title of his presentation was “Not-So-Big Real Estate: Growing Cities 3,000 SQFT at a time.”  See more here and here.

Above: Guerrilla’s “Fair-Haired Dumbbell” project in Portland.  Any heads exploding out there?

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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