African Youth & Community Organization (AYCO) is in the process of buying the Flex Building located at 2110 SE 82nd Avenue. The youth mentoring organization currently operates out of the former Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) building on NE Glisan Street. Developers will soon transform the TBN site into affordable housing, prompting AYCO’s move to a new facility. However, the group needs to raise $5.5 million to purchase and renovate the new building.
In January 2021, AYCO relocated to 432 NE 74th Ave from SE 122nd Avenue. Although the group knowingly committed to a short-term lease for the property on NE 74th, they hoped to become a partner organization in the supportive housing planned for the site. Unfortunately, Metro did not select the development group they partnered with, making another move inevitable.
This week the developers submitted a type 2 Land Use Review for the first of two buildings planned for the Glisan and 74th housing project. That four-story wood-framed residential building will contain 41 units of permanent supportive housing above a ground floor commercial kitchen, cafe, and retail incubator space. Additional amenities include resident services, laundry rooms, bike parking, and a community room.
With the permitting process underway, securing a new home for AYCO takes on a new sense of urgency. The Flex building on SE 82nd Avenue is several years old but has never found a tenant. Constructed in
2017, the building’s owner anticipated demand for high-end office and commercial space on 82nd Avenue near SE Division Street. Lower demand and the pandemic kept the building vacant except for a short-term popup COVID testing site. Crews only constructed the basic shape of the space, waiting for tenants to dictate the placement of interior walls. This unfinished condition will add to AYCO’s overall costs for the project. “The building is a shell and needs huge construction [and] tenant improvements,” explained AYCO Executive Director Jamal Dar.
The Flex building will cost $3.6 million to purchase. AYCO staff have allocated the remaining $1.9 Million to cover construction and furnishings. Fortunately, they have already received commitments for $1.5 million from supporters. An additional $2.5 million is expected to come from Federal funds and contributions from the City of Portland. Now, AYCO is seeking donors at any level who can help bridge the $1.5 million gap. They must find those funds within six to ten months or incur debt from loans.
The Flex building offers many benefits to the AYCO community, and buying the building will provide the permanent home this group has sought for many years. Dar explained that the building is centrally located near the community his organization serves. He feels its proximity to several schools, shopping, and transit options will be an invaluable benefit to the immigrant and refugee community using this resource center.
At 18,682 square feet, the increased building size means AYCO will continue to offer all existing programs with room to expand. “[The building] will allow us to conduct all of our programs, including establishing early childhood education and many other programs we currently don’t have,” said Dar. Buying the Flex building has the potential to take AYCO to a new level and secure its space in the supportive services community.
People or groups interested in investing in AYCO’s future location on SE 82nd Avenue should visit the group’s website www.aycoworld.org and click this Donate Now button at the top of the page. Jamal Dar and his staff are available to talk to groups interested in large sponsorship opportunities.