Author: Jacob Loeb

My family and I moved to Montavilla in 2005, firmly planting our roots in the neighborhood. Before writing for the Montavilla News, I wrote Apple Computer focused articles for PowerMax and the Mac Store.

Lane Closures on NE 82nd and Glisan Bring New Sidewalks

Work on the Jacksons convenience store and gas station at 515 NE 82nd Avenue closed one lane on NE 82nd Avenue and NE Glisan Street as crews construct new sidewalks around two sides of the 40,250 square foot property. Construction of the new fueling station pumps and retail building is nearing completion, and now cement masons will build wider walkways around the site. The southbound TriMet 72 bus stop in front of the property is closed during this phase of the project. Riders can use the temporary stop across NE Glisan Street by Washman Auto Spa.

Over the following weeks, one southbound lane of NE 82nd Avenue and one westbound lane of NE Glisan Street are closed to traffic near the property. Sidewalks detour pedestrians onto the roadway to bypass the construction. However, until workers complete the new walkway, it is recommended that people use the opposite sidewalks while walking in this area. In addition to the expanded sidewalks with fewer curb cuts to navigate, pedestrians will soon have a corner public plaza to rest at.

Site Plan as presented to the Montavilla Neighborhood Association by PM Design Group, courtesy Jacksons.

This location will soon become safer for people thanks to an expanded pedestrian realm and a reduction in places where a vehicle crosses the sidewalk. Developers reduced curb cuts into this area in half, taking six entry points down to three and pushing them away from the corner crosswalk zone. The project designers also relocated the convenience store closer to the sidewalk so shoppers not traveling by car can have safe entry. Expect construction to continue into summer, with a store opening date later this year.

TriMet 72 bus stop temporary relocated on the south side of NE Glisan in front of Washman

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SE 83rd 30 Unit Apartment Complex

McGuirl Designs & Architecture recently announced plans to create a 30-unit apartment complex at 33 SE 83rd Avenue. The two-building development will replace an existing single-family residence and an adjacent empty lot with three floors of housing. Both buildings will support nine two-bedroom and six one-bedroom units evenly dispersed on each level. Residents will access apartments on the upper floors through exterior stairwells that lead to a central walkway between the structures.

Two-story home to be demolished if development proceeds

The layout and scope of this 19,284-square-foot project could change significantly before work begins. In 2018, the previous owners of this property proposed an eight-unit apartment building. During that early development work, demolition crews removed a detached storage structure from the now vacant lot. That project did not succeed, and in the summer of 2020, Montavilla Green LLC bought the home with the undeveloped parcel. The new owners have not yet submitted demolition permits for the 1946-era home or building permits for the two new multi-family buildings. However, the architect has made the required notice to the neighborhood association, indicating there is momentum behind this proposal.

Portland Maps image with MV News illustration

This property is next to and behind commercial properties in a Commercial Mixed Use 2 zone that promotes this type of development. The site is close to the intersection of 82nd Avenue and Burnside Street, making it an ideal location for public transit users. It will also provide protected bike parking for residents who want to use that mode of transportation. This development will contain inclusionary housing units as required in projects with more than 19 units. Look for the developer to submit building permits later this year, with work likely beginning in 2024 or later.

Empty lot where detached garage once stood

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the board of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association.

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New Sidewalk Corners on SE Stark East of 88th

Crews working with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will rebuild several corners on SE Stark street at the intersections of SE 88th, 89th, and 90th Avenues. Work will demolish the existing corners and curb ramps, replacing them with updated versions that better meet city standards for accessible infrastructure. City staff will relocate and upgrade storm drains at many of the corners, preventing flooding at the ramp’s edge. This section of SE Stark Street lacks consistent sidewalks. Consequentially, some new corners will lead to unpaved paths.

Northwest corner of SE 89th Avenue and Stark Street

Developers of the two properties fronted on SE Stark Street between SE 89th and 90th Avenues neglected to install sidewalks. Building codes did not require pedestrian infrastructure at the time of construction. Instead, the front of the properties features mature trees and a degraded asphalt parking lot. Recently one of the businesses closed, while the Filipino American Association uses the other building for their events. Complete sidewalk infill on this block will likely wait until substantial work on the adjacent property triggers mandatory curb reconstruction. However, the new corners should help people transition from the street to a flat surface before traveling through the parking lot.

Image from Portland Maps with illustrations by Montavilla News

These improvements are a small step towards making a pedestrian-friendly path along this major roadway. Work will likely occur sometime this summer, depending on crew availability. When construction begins, pedestrians should favor the south side of SE Stark Street to bypass any sidewalk closures.

Northeast corner of SE 89th Avenue and Stark Street
Northwest corner of SE 89th Avenue and Stark Street
Northwest corner of SE 90th Avenue and Stark Street showing some sidewalk construction

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Substance Addiction Recovery Center on NE Glisan

The Pathfinder Network will unveil its newest substance addiction recovery center on March 29th at an Open House event. This Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (Measure 110) funded location will aid those seeking peer support services for addiction recovery. The Resilience & Recovery Project office is located at 7901 NE Glisan Street and is open to individuals 18 and older in Multnomah County with current or prior justice-system involvement.

This recovery location is six blocks from the Pathfinder Network’s Oregon headquarters and Center for Family Success at 7305 NE Glisan Street. This new site’s proximity to the organization’s other resources and its central location in Portland’s Eastside made it an ideal spot for the Resilience & Recovery Project – Multnomah County, according to Kiley Yuthas, Marketing & Communications Manager for the Pathfinder Network. “One of the amazing parts about this location is if there are services that we do not offer at this location, but we do offer in our Center for Family Success, we can have a peer walk these [six] blocks with somebody, introduce them one-on-one to whoever is going to be able to support them and get them involved with other wrap-around services,” remarked Yuthas. She explained that both locations offer different programs, but people’s needs often overlap. “Referrals go both ways,” said Yuthas.

Nearly two years ago, the Pathfinder Network relocated to Montavilla. The new site allowed the services group to merge their Downtown Portland offices with the Center for Family Success, previously located on SE 122nd. However, this Glisan street center is just one of eighteen locations in Oregon, nine of which are inside penitentiaries. For thirty years, the organization has served the needs of people navigating the post-conviction system. “The Pathfinder Network was founded in 1993, and our mission is to provide tools and support to individuals and families who are impacted by the criminal justice system,” explained Leticia Longoria-Navarro, Executive Director of the organization. Their work often begins within Oregon’s corrections facilities and extends post-release. “Most of the programming that happens in the institution is cognitive behavioral groups. The goal is to provide folks support and services through group-based intervention so that they can get the knowledge that they need to be able to start planning for their reentry,” said Longoria-Navarro. Beyond prison-based support, the Pathfinder Network has programs to guide people on parole or probation. “We have a suite of different community-based programs that are really focused on providing support to the individuals that are impacted by the system as well as their children and families. We know there are just a ton of barriers that people experience with involvement in the criminal justice system, and we also know that people are connected with other systems at the same time. Whether it be mental health, substance abuse, or child welfare. So our goal is to try to help reduce some of those barriers and increase access to resources.” Pathfinder Network staff is not necessarily the services provider but instead works to direct people to resources that can help.

Traditionally, this type of work centers on the person preparing for reentry into the community and expands to include the individual’s family after release. However, Longoria-Navarro explained that this is starting to change. “The majority of our programs are really focused on the individual who’s incarcerated, but we have evolved and expanded our programs to start that support for both the children and families when they’re still incarcerated.” The organization considers family support an essential part of the program, providing an intervention for children who are often collateral damage in the criminal justice system.

Playroom at the Pathfinder Network

Over the last three years, the Pathfinder Network has expanded its efforts to include substance addiction recovery support for those with mandatory treatment requirements and those looking to overcome their dependence on drugs. This avenue of services has expanded over the last three years due to funding from Measure 110. In 2020, voters approved a ballot measure to reclassify personal drug possession offenses to Class E violations that result in a $100 fine. That fine is waived if the person completes a health assessment at an addiction recovery center. It also redirects funds from the Oregon Marijuana Account to drug treatment and recovery services intending to handle the new influx of people seeking a health assessment or treatment.

It has taken years for the treatment side of Measure 110 to roll out to communities, while the decriminalization part of the program was immediately evident. However, Kiley Yuthas explained that the Pathfinder Network began working on growing these facilities early on. “This is the 5th location of our Resilience & Recovery Project in Oregon. We have three locations in Jackson County right now in Medford. That was our first location to open in 2021. And since then, we have expanded to two other offices down there in 2022. We opened the Resilience & Recovery Project – Marion County down in Salem, and now we’re opening this one.”

The need for more recovery locations is immense, and it is sometimes hampered by finding enough staff to guide those seeking treatment. “We’ll continue to grow rapidly, and if anyone wants to work in peer support, they should check out our jobs page,” said Yuthas, noting that personal history is an important part of the role. “One of the amazing things about our Resilience & Recovery Project is that all of our peers have lived experience of recovery and systems involvement. So they can say, ‘I have been in this position, and I took these steps, or I can support you in these ways to get you to a similar outcome as what I have achieved.’ so the qualifications for becoming a peer are to have two years of successful recovery and some experience navigating systems.”

Drop in resources area at the Resilience & Recovery Project with shared computer and literature

The Resilience & Recovery Project’s open house begins at 11 a.m. next Wednesday, with a short program introducing the space at 11:30. The peer program manager will speak about her experience, hopes, and goals for the program. Then one of the parent partners will talk about her experience coming to the Pathfinder Network as a participant and transitioning into a parent partner role. From noon until 2 p.m., the organization invites the public to look at the space and meet some of the people working to break addictions and make the criminal justice system a program of reform.

Correction March 23rd, 2023: A previous version of this article said they were in operation for 20 years instead of 30 years. We regret this error.

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Community Meetings on Alternative Shelters

Last week began and ended with community meetings regarding the placement of alternative outdoor shelters in Montavilla. Meeting attendees expressed mixed support for the temporary housing program, and a significant number of residents voiced their disappointment with County communication regarding these shelter projects. Elected officials presented at both gatherings, but many community members’ concerns remain unanswered as the area residents wait for Multnomah County to engage in public conversations.

Organizers scheduled the two meetings soon after The Oregonian/OregonLive revealed that a 5.8-acre Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon property could become an alternative outdoor shelter for up to 150 people experiencing houselessness. However, those early conversations did not produce a short-term lease for 8815 NE Glisan Street, and City staff will continue searching for locations outside of Montavilla. Some residents were concerned that this section of Portland was taking on an undue burden from government groups looking to address the housing emergency. At the end of December, Montavilla News broke the story that Multnomah County purchased two automotive sales lots along SE 82nd Avenue, with at least one location becoming an outdoor alternative shelter. The Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) recently announced that Straightway Services will operate a Safe Park alternative shelter at 333 SE 82nd Avenue.

The Safe Park model allows Portlanders experiencing vehicular homelessness to park and utilize their vehicles for shelter. The fully managed site will provide safety, sanitation, and case management to invited residents looking to transition off the street. Shelter rules prohibit Recreational Vehicle (RV) parking and unsanctioned camping at this location. The nonprofit provider, Straightway Services, will maintain staff onsite at all hours of the day and be responsible for managing the location’s residents. The site is already fenced and awaiting the demolition of the former sales office. JOHS staff expect residents to move in later this year.

JOHS has not announced plans for the second County-owned site at 1818 SE 82nd Avenue. However, they have indicated it will also address the shelter needs of the unhoused. Montavilla already hosts a County supported alternative outdoor shelter called Beacon Village, north of NE Glisan Street. That location is widely considered a successful implementation, and the County often cites it as an example in its communications. When these two new 82nd Avenue locations open, the County will have three alternative outdoor shelters within close proximity to each other, prompting questions from neighborhood residents about site selection diversity.

Mayor Ted Wheeler speaking at the March 18th, 2023, town hall

Saints Peter & Paul Episcopal Church hosted a Stand for Compassion gathering on Sunday, March 12th. Multnomah County Commissioner Diane Rosenbaum and State Representative Khanh Pham spoke briefly at the event. Over a dozen community members attended the gathering that focused on engaging in supportive conversations around the Safe Park site. Most attendees of this meeting felt hopeful about the program and appreciated that some new models of shelter support were coming to the neighborhood.

The Columbia Christian School hosted a town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon in their Eastside Church of Christ chapel. This event was coordinated by Safe Rest PDX and attended by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who spoke for an hour. With the VOA site no longer considered for a City run temporary shelter site, his conversation focused on the program’s ambitions to end unsanctioned camping in Portland and his belief that it was the most humane solution to getting people off the street quickly. Event organizers took written questions from the audience for the Mayor and selected a few to ask. After he concluded his portion of the meeting, the two hundred attendees thinned out considerably, and the TV news crews from KoinKGWKATU, and KPTV packed up their equipment. The event continued for almost another hour, with speakers sharing their experience engaging the unhoused and expressing concern over JOHS’s lack of communication. Examples of the County’s short Cummings centered around missing several self-imposed deadlines for mailing information to residents near 333 SE 82nd Avenue and the lack of County attendance at their meeting. Outside of the written questions for the Mayor, organizers asked attendees to refrain from speaking. However, they collected people’s concerns through a survey and plan to share those comments at a future date.

During Mayor Wheeler’s time at the lectern, he informed the crowd that the City was not planning to have any other large 150-person camps sited in Montavilla, limiting the future alternative shelters to the three County locations. JOHS and Straightway Services are committed to holding a public conversation with the community closer to the site’s opening and signing a Good Neighbor Agreement with the local business and neighborhood associations. Until then, there will likely remain a gap in public information beyond what is available on the County’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage for the Montavilla Safe Park.

Disclosure: The Author of this article servers on the boards of Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association, 82nd Avenue Business Association, and Montavilla Neighborhood Association. Those groups will work with Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services and Straightway Services to draft a Good Neighbor Agreement for the Safe Park Village on SE 82nd Avenue.

Cinderblock Building Demolished for Apartments

Wednesday, March 15th, crews began demolishing the 1949-era cinderblock home at 235 SE 80th Avenue, making way for a three-story apartment building. The new structure will support 11 units of housing. Eleay Properties bought the house in 2019 and started the permitting process to build the multifamily development. Schumacher Custom Homes is the builder on this project.

In addition to the new housing, the developer will plant a new street tree and construct a carriage walk – a small cement path in the furnishing zone that bridges the planted gap between the sidewalk and curb, allowing people to exit a vehicle without stepping on the grass. An Early Assistance application for the project scoped 12 units and seven parking spaces. However, the submitted permit application text does not mention parking and proposes one less apartment. Expect to see demolition work complete at the site sometime next week, and construction should begin this summer.

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The Growing Urban Core on E Burnside

A cluster of four-story apartment buildings is transforming E Burnside Street west of SE 60th Avenue. In a former 7-Eleven’s footprint, crews recently completed work on the second building at the Burnie apartment complex. One street over, Tabor Flats PDX has a 78-unit apartment building under construction. This month, permit applications revealed another 78-unit building will soon sit between the other two projects, replacing The Jag Shop at 5710 E Burnside Street. This rapid redevelopment indicates what is economically viable in Commercial Mixed Use 2 (CM2) zoning just 20 blocks from Montavilla.

In January 2023, the specialty automotive repair shop announced its closure after nearly 28 years. Now Fosler Architecture is working with the new property owners to design the four-story multi-family building replacing The Jag Shop. The proposed project will include a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units. Each residence will have a stacked laundry facility and utilizes an efficient floor plan. When completed, the building will have a new address of 5734 E Burnside Street.

The Jag Shop at 5710 E Burnside Street

The Tabor Flats PDX development, across SE 57th Avenue from The Jag Shop, is owned by the same entity behind the Burnie. The group’s newest apartment building broke ground at 8 SE 56th Avenue soon after the other development wrapped up just 700 feet away. Studio 3 Architecture designed both projects for The Mark R Madden Revocable Living Trust. Consequentially, Studio 3 Architecture has set the aesthetic for buildings in this area of E Burnside Street and will make a lasting mark on the street.

These mass housing projects are possible because of the CM2 zoning on this section of E Burnside Street. It incentives medium-scale commercial mixed-use development in population centers and corridors, particularly in areas well served by frequent public transit. City planners expect buildings in this zone to be up to four stories tall, but until recently, very few developers in this area have built to that scale. If these 70-plus unit apartment buildings continue to meet the housing gap for a considerable percentage of the population, builders will continue their work towards the east. CM2 zoning exists across many sections of Montavilla, including 82nd Avenue and E Burnside Street. Only two projects in Montavilla have proposed housing density equal to what is happening in the adjacent neighborhoods. It is only a matter of time before more properties in Montavilla attract development projects that deliver over 60 apartments in a single structure.

Zoning map centered on 5710 E Burnside from Portland Maps

Retraction: A previous version of this article stated that the former owner of The Jag Shop was involved in the project. He is not involved in the apartment development. Montavilla News regrets this error.

Transit Driver Appreciation Day March 17th

TriMet will observe this year’s Transit Driver Appreciation Day on March 17th, 2023. For over a decade, the municipal transportation corporation has used this day to invite its users to thank those who keep the system moving. If riding on public transportation this Friday, event organizers encourage people to say “thank you,” wave, or smile at the operator. Riders can sign a banner at one of six transit center locations, including the Gateway Transit Center at 9900 NE Multnomah Street, or post their message of thanks on an online board.

Staffing issues over the last few years has left TriMet in need of more bus and MAX light rail operators. They are currently offering a $7,500 hiring bonus for those looking to take a full or part-time position as an operator. The transit system’s expansion depends on adequate staffing, and the role of public transportation is critical in building housing density and lowering Oregon’s carbon output. Modern Portland multi-family developments often lack onsite parking or offer minimal vehicle storage space. This development model helps maximize the housing units on a property and encourages people to forgo a private vehicle. Instead, builders expect residents to use other commuting methods. City planners promote this model to reduce the environmental impact of transit in our region, but it depends on fast and effective alternatives. TriMet is the largest transportation provider for those without personal vehicles, providing over 42 million rides in 2022.

In that respect, transit drivers are not only responsible for safely moving people throughout the community but also play an impactful role in reducing climate change and creating a greater quantity of homes. The drivers always welcome the daily appreciation of TriMet staff, but March 17th is an appropriate time to communicate your feelings explicitly.

Sign a banner at one of these transit centers:

  • Beaverton Transit Center
  • Clackamas Transit Center
  • Gateway Transit Center
  • Gresham Transit Center
  • Rose Quarter Transit Center
  • SE 21st Avenue and Jackson Street in Milwaukie (formerly the Milwaukie Transit Center).

Reducing Violence Through Building Better Futures

Several months ago, the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center + Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC + RAHS) opened the Community Care office in a previously vacant building at SE Stark Street and SE 91st Avenue. From this location, they provide violence reduction programs that divert at-risk people into job training programs and provide support to those transitioning to a safer future.

POIC began in 1967 as part of the national OIC of America network, an organization dedicated to providing black Americans access to job training programs. In 1983, the Portland group shifted services to struggling youth, later opening its first high school named after Executive Director Rosemary Anderson. That initiative has grown to support over 3,000 students across four high school campuses and one middle school. The education and opportunities nonprofit continues to use work training to reduce violence and improve lives.

Serving the community from the SE Stark Street location, Hiag Brown is Co-Director of POIC’s Community Care Team and the Trauma + Violence Impacted Family Program. Brown explained that people come to the organizations primarily through referrals from Police, school district staff, faith-based groups, or community members. “Once they come in, we do a risk analysis and figure out where they fall. Are they extremely high-risk? Do they really need a life coach or an intensive case manager? Or are they on the verge of getting into a gang, where we can find them a mentor,” said Brown.

After evaluating the person’s needs, the Community Care staff determines the next steps. Those steps can involve setting up a safety plan for individuals needing immediate guidance. “Safety plans are with the intensive case managers. It’s intensive because, for the first three months, it’s daily contact, meeting with them three times a week face to face. It’s consistency that is needed over time. They haven’t had somebody guide them in the right direction. It’s an 18-month process and part of best practices,” said Brown. That process involves developing a cooperative strategy stemming from a series of questions. “Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What can we do? So it’s keeping them safe, keeping their family safe, making successful choices.”

A desire to remove yourself from a dangerous life is only the first step. It requires overcoming many barriers present in people’s environment. Brown explained that diverting someone into a job apprenticeship program is an essential part of their counseling work and a necessary step to making positive changes in people’s lives. “If they’re into that lifestyle, into drug dealing, that’s their source of income. So if you’re taking that away from them, what are you replacing it with?” Asked Brown. Even in a strong employment market, having a felony on your record can dramatically limit work opportunities. “As soon as they have a felony, people will just give up.” However, according to Brown, working around that limitation is where the organization excels. “We’re good at finding people jobs they can do with a felony and make a decent living. We’re putting them into these apprenticeship programs. We’re finding jobs through our work source, putting them into the culinary program if they want. So we’re finding all these positive things for them to do.”

Focusing on the future is insufficient to keep people on their chosen positive path. Counseling, mentorship, and continued support through life events contribute to POIC + RAHS’s success rate. “When there’s somebody that’s shot, our people get the call, and they’ll say, ‘my homeboy just got shot,’ ‘my brother got shot,’ whoever, it’s our life coach and intensive case managers there keeping them on track. ‘Remember what we’re doing. Do not lose sight of where you’re at. We’ll not step back into that lifestyle,'” explained Brown.

Hiag Brown acknowledges that gun violence is astonishingly prevalent despite the organization’s decades of work. He does not fully understand why there was a sudden increase but sees a few recent events contributing to the problem. “COVID did not help at all, but it was my opinion that when they got rid of the gun violence reduction team and didn’t have anything to replace them with, that hurt. Because those officers had built relationships with those high-risk individuals, and they weren’t as brazen as they are now, with carrying weapons and not worried about being pulled over.”

Despite that setback and increased community violence, Brown sees significant success in the organization’s work. “So they’ve done a great job of keeping them out of that lifestyle, and I couldn’t imagine what our shooting numbers would be like if we weren’t connecting with these people.” The increased attention to their work has helped expand operations, including opening up this centrally located office on SE Stark Street and raising pay for employees, many of whom come from the same background as the people they are helping. However, even as POIC + RAHS grows the scope of their work, keeping that support going after the shooting numbers come down will be a challenge. “Finding sustainable funding is a big part of it. [Eventually,] somebody says, ‘OK, now these shootings have gone down, we’re going to cut your funding.’ That’s usually what happens,” remarked Brown. A funding cycle that diminishes with signs of success can undermine the lasting effects of violence prevention programs like those that delivered historically low shooting numbers in the city before the pandemic.

The SE Stark Street POIC + RAHS location is closed to the public. The office hosts many support groups for people who have suffered trauma from violence or need the support of a community with shared experiences. It is a safe space where the turmoil of a person’s life does not follow them. Instead of greeting people as they walk in the doors, POIC + RAHS staff are out in the community serving Portland’s Eastside residents. People looking to support the organization can donate or partner with the group by offering internship opportunities at a business.

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One Home Becomes Ten on NE 92nd

Instrinsic Homes LLC bought the expansive 100-foot by 100-foot property at 811 NE 92nd Avenue a year ago. The new owners split the land into three parcels, selling the corner house to new residents and selling the undeveloped lots to Dez Development. Soon nine townhomes will surround the existing 1925-era home, creating a total of ten residences out of land previously used for just one single-family-dwelling.

Splitting the lot and reselling the separate parcels netted Instrinsic Homes around $250,000 and created two new development opportunities. The 4,455-square-foot property accessed from NE Oregon Street will contain six residences. The smaller 2,103 square-foot undeveloped lot fronted on NE 92nd Avenue will support three townhouses. Each of those Townhouse units split living space across two floors. The developer has not proposed onsite parking for these projects.

This site redevelopment will preserve the nearly 100-year-old home while substantially increasing available housing. Although this will be one of the most efficient redevelopments in Montavilla, it is two units less than the eleven-townhouse development planned at 2321 SE 89th Avenue or the Twelve Townhouses nearly completed on SE 86th Avenue. The SE 89th project will also preserve the original home, but the SE 86th development razed the existing structures. Expect construction to start on NE 92nd Avenue in the next six to eighteen months, and anticipate many new neighbors within this area by 2024.

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