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Phone: 503-823-7740

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March 2018 Brownfield Program Newsletter

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New Project: REACH: The Rose

REACH Community Development, Inc (REACH CDC) applied for funds from the Portland Brownfield Program in November of 2017 for a Phase I at The Rose Apartments in inner Southeast Portland. The Rose is single-room occupancy, permanent housing for women who have experienced homelessness. It has offered residents safe, affordable housing and access to resident services since its purchase by REACH in 1988. The building was originally constructed in 1910 and REACH is proposing to fully preserve the building through a major renovation. Renovations will address seismic upgrades, fire safety, and ADA upgrades. An environmental site assessment is required as a condition of funding for low-income housing tax credits from Oregon Housing and Community Services. It is also part of REACH’s due diligence for pre-development. Due to the age of the building and lack of records, REACH believed there could be lead-based paint and/or asbestos and requested help funding a Hazardous Materials Survey.

 A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment was conducted and completed in January of this year. The building appears to have been residential in the 100+ years it has existed, and the report did not reveal any unexpected past site uses. A permit filed with the Portland Fire Bureau indicated that an underground diesel fuel tank was decommissioned in place in 2005. The consultants conducting the site assessment, Assessment Associates Inc., saw features in the courtyard that pointed to the possible presence of a different underground storage tank. This was the only Recognized Environmental Condition mentioned in the report.

A geophysical survey took place at the end of January to determine to search for an underground tank.  Ground penetrating radar did not reveal anything that led Pacific Geophysics to recommend sampling. The Hazardous Materials Survey also wrapped up recently and included lab results from over 30 samples that measured lead and asbestos. No samples detected asbestos content, and the percent lead content of the buildings’ materials was low and typical for a building of this kind. Should REACH move forward with the remodel, results from these reports will be useful for the contractors who work at the site.

Established in 1982 by SE Portland community activists, REACH CDC owns over 2,200 affordable housing units in Oregon and SW Washington. REACH CDC's Housing Development Department has closed more than $132 million in development financing over the last five years, creating or preserving 638 affordable homes.

Past Project Update: East-West College (PDX Commons)

The 4300 block of SE Belmont has a new building: PDX Commons. The site was once a parking lot owned by Portland’s East West College. Today, it contains twenty-seven units housing adults 55 and older. Each household contributed 20% of the unit cost towards development with Urban Development + Partners (UDP). The cohousing model allows residents to share common areas and foster a sense of community, which brings positive health benefits and prevents social isolation for those aging in place.

The Portland Brownfield Program provided funds for both Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments on this property from 2007-2008. Tests revealed that contamination from a neighboring property was affecting this site. Mineral spirits, Benzene, and other contaminants from an old clothes cleaning and dyeing business had infiltrated the soil, and there was minor contamination from an historical repair shop. After cleanup of the neighboring site, which included some soil removal, DEQ issued a conditional No Further Action letter. In 2010, Urban Development Partners purchased this lot from East West College and in opened a popular food cart pod called Good Food Here. The lease for the food carts ended at the end of 2015 and construction of PDX Commons began in 2016. Four underground storage tanks were found during construction, at least two of which had released solvents into soil and groundwater. A vapor ventilation system was installed under the foundation during construction. These engineering controls remain in place today. 

Brownfield Program Assistant Says Goodbye

Claudia Christensen García, our program assistant, is leaving the Portland Brownfield Program this March. Her start coincided with the program receiving a Brownfield Assessment Grant from the EPA in the fall of 2016. Since then, Claudia has focused on the grant’s target area of East Portland and the diverse communities who live there. Getting to know partners and working with groups such as the East Portland Action Plan and EPA’s Making a Visible Difference has been inspiring and reinforced just how resilient our communities are. In the time that she has been with the program, Claudia has overseen four projects that will preserve local community assets, prevent displacement, and stimulate our local economy.

Reflecting on the past year and a half, Claudia is struck at how much she has learned about the brownfield community. Not only has her brain taken in a whole suite of acronyms and technical terms, but she has seen how varied brownfields are and how they truly can become anything! One thing is certain, redeveloping brownfields can be complicated and is no easy task. Our program could not be successful without all our partners who help us work through site logistics, coordinate outreach, and share information around challenges and best practices. Thank you all for helping bring Claudia into this community and for expanding her perspective on land use and redevelopment.

Moving forward, if you have any questions about our program services, scheduling a brownfield class/tour, or collaborating on a brownfield event, please contact Program Coordinator Jenn Bildersee at

Brownfields in the News

There are many conferences coming up in the world of brownfields and community development!

2018 Oregon Active Transportation Summit, March 15th-16th:

LOCUS Leadership Summit: Rebuild America's Neighborhoods, April 22nd-24th:

2018 Oregon Brownfields Conference, April 29th-May 1st (scholarships available through Business Oregon):

Congress for the New Urbanism 26. Savannah, May 16-19th:

22nd Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, June 18th-20th: