On April 28th, NW Development Inc purchased the 1,500-square-foot single-family residence at 26 NE 73rd Avenue, and the new owner plans to construct three additional homes behind the existing 1940’s era house. Each new detached residence will stand two stories tall and contain just under 950 square feet of living space. Demolition crews will remove the freestanding single-car garage to the south of the home, allowing access to the back structures.
Owner of NW Development, Brett Barton, explained why this property was an ideal location to bring affordable middle housing to the neighborhood. “The house is in pretty good shape. It needs some updating but is overall a solid house. The prior owners took great care of it, the hardwoods are in phenomenal shape, and it hasn’t been chopped up a whole bunch of times.” The home’s placement at the front of the lot also added to this project’s viability, leaving over half the property open to development. The first new home will sit ten feet behind the original structure Facing south, and the other two houses will sit side by side at the back of the lot facing west.
Each new building will offer a similar floor plan with a great room, kitchen, and half-bath on the main floor. Upstairs, two bedrooms share a full bathroom and a side-by-side laundry. Each freestanding property will have its own lot without a Home Owners Association (HOA) fee, as many other similar developments previously required. “[They’ll be] sold as fee-simple ownership. There will not be condos or HOA or anything like that, and they’ll be on their own tax lots,” said Barton. He explained that Portland’s Residential Infill Project and House Bill 2001 paved the way for a more reasonable approach to this type of infill development. Before those changes, developers had to create an HOA system to manage shared access to units not adjacent to a city street. That adds monthly costs and can turn away buyers during the financing process. The new Middle Housing Land Division rules allow certain middle housing types to exist on an individual lot with separate ownership, but the lots do not require direct street access. Instead, an easement for utilities and a walkway ensure residents have the access they need to their property, even when it is behind several others.
Brett Barton explained that the driveway would remain during construction to provide equipment access to the site. However, after crews complete construction, they will rebuild the pathway to support pedestrian access to the other homes, and the driveway will not accommodate vehicle storage. “The City of Portland changed their attitude towards parking as we’ve had this housing crunch. The parking requirements have actually gone the opposite way. They’re not allowing garages on skinnier lots anymore,” said Barton. He feels that losing onsite parking and the utility of a garage can detract from a home’s functionality. Still, he accepts the tradeoff when creating homes accessible to first-time buyers. Each new home will sell below the affordable housing cap currently set at $455,000 or less. Although that Portland set cap could seem unaffordable, the program helps keep prices from spiking during high demand and can be the only way certain buyers are not priced out of good neighborhoods.
Barton said permit applications are taking over six months for approval. However, he may demolish the garage and begin upgrade work on the existing home before then. The 1948-built house will receive new paint, heating and cooling system upgrades, and full kitchen and bath modernization. Expect to see crews start that work in the coming months and construction of the new homes towards the end of 2023.
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