The cost of building and renting a new homelessness center could cost more than double the amount estimated by Portland officials four years ago.
Estimates received by developers interested in building a 200-bed homeless service center and renting it to the city estimate that the project could cost nearly $ 20 million, which could require an annual rental payment of ‘About $ 1.5 million. That’s more than double the cost estimate of $ 8 million in 2017, when the city estimated an annual rental payment of about $ 400,000.
City officials are not commenting on details of the proposals received from developers and opened last week. But the difference in cost is likely attributed to redesigning the shelter to provide additional space needed to provide physical separation during a pandemic. The city’s estimates for 2017 were based on a facility of less than 25,000 square feet, but the proposals received by the city called for a facility of 50,000 square feet.
A city spokesperson said city councilors on the Housing and Economic Development Committee are expected to review the proposals on May 18.
“We are happy to have three proposals to evaluate and we are grateful that this step of the process has been completed,” said Jessica Grondin, City Hall communications director. “We look forward to a thorough staff review and to sharing recommendations with the HEDC committee in the near future. It is too early to react to the details provided in the proposals. “
The city has been working on plans to replace the old and cramped Oxford Street Shelter for about five years – an effort that has sparked controversy at almost every turn.
The opening of the development proposals comes as a group of residents began collecting signatures for a citizens’ initiative that would prevent the city’s project from moving forward by limiting the size of new emergency shelters to 50 people or less. And city councilors are considering a six-month moratorium on new shelters at Bayside, which has a high concentration of social services, so they can finalize a new licensing program for shelters and a zoning proposal for smaller shelters.
The city is looking for a developer to build a new homeless service center at 654 Riverside Street with a soup kitchen, medical clinic, social services and locker rooms on land owned by the city, then rent it to the city.
Portland has received proposals from two developers – Portland-based Developers Collaborative and Arlington, Virginia-based FD Stonewater – interested in building the facility for the city and a third proposal from a local developer to build housing instead of emergency shelter.
The projected costs of building a new shelter – $ 19.23 million and $ 18.69 million, respectively – are more than double the city’s $ 8 million estimate in 2017. However, the city’s estimate was based on a 25,660 square foot facility, while the proposals received were for a 50,000 square foot facility.
Portland is currently the only municipality in the state to operate a low-barrier emergency shelter.
City officials have drawn up a plan to replace the Oxford Street shelter, which currently serves homeless single adults. City officials have said the facility, a converted apartment building and car garage, is unsafe and unsustainable for staff and customers. Before the pandemic, the shelter had a capacity of 154 people sleeping on floor mats, and it regularly exceeded its capacity. The pandemic prompted the city to reduce shelter capacity and open temporary shelters, including in hotels, thanks in large part to public funds.
The city currently rents the Oxford Street shelter for $ 164,000 per year.
Last week, the city said it was providing emergency shelter to around 300 single adults and 86 families, including 260 people. As of Wednesday, 45 single adults were staying at the Oxford Street shelter. And on Tuesday, 111 single adults were staying in a publicly funded hotel serving as emergency shelter, and 146 other single adults were staying in other hotels funded by the city’s general assistance program.
The city has asked developers to design a facility that can accommodate 200 people with enough space for social distancing during a pandemic. He requested 144 raised beds for men and 60 raised beds for women, all spaced 6 feet apart. It required a multipurpose social / dining room for 200 people and a changing room for 200 people. He also called for an attached health clinic with four examination rooms and a lab, along with other features.
The Developers Collaborative team includes Cianbro, Winton Scott Architects, Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers, Aceto Landscape Architects, Thornton Tomasetti (green building consultant) and Brian Townsend of the mental health nonprofit Amistad.
Their proposal would cost around $ 19.23 million and would include a bus shelter on Riverside Street, a raised garden and benches, as well as a grassy yard with a stage and reading tree. The proposal also includes several other suggestions, including a possible outdoor sleeping pavilion, and identifies part of the property where a future transitional housing project could be built.
Director of Developer Collaboration Kevin Bunker said his team’s proposal was meant to show a creative approach to the project and the team’s desire to work collaboratively with the city and neighborhood. Another example of the team’s creativity, Bunker said, proposed a tax increase funding deal to help the city pay property taxes on the new shelter. The team estimates that a FIT, which would benefit the city and not the developers, would house $ 150,000 per year in revenue that would otherwise be wasted in public aid to education, revenue sharing and county taxes.
“We’re not just going to approve this thing, build a building and collect the rent,” he said. “We can really bring a lot of creativity to it and we can throw in a lot of great ideas to maybe help (the city) think about this thing in different ways as we develop it together.”
Developers Collaborative offers a 50-year ground lease for the land, with an initial 25-year leaseback period for the city. The city’s lease payment of $ 1.47 million would not increase in the first 10 years, but would have a one-time cumulative increase in inflation in the 11th year, and then increase with inflation each year thereafter. . The city would be responsible for all operating costs and would have the option to purchase the building starting in year 20. If the city leases the building for 50 years, it would assume ownership of it at no cost.
FD Stonewater’s proposal would cost approximately $ 18.69 million, resulting in an annual lease payment of $ 1.11 million. However, the company says the annual lease payment could be as low as $ 967,000 or as high as $ 1.26 million, depending on the final finishes and whether furniture and fixtures are included.
Principal Claiborne Williams did not respond to an interview request on Thursday. But the company touts its experience working on municipal projects in its proposal.
FD Stonewater’s proposal contemplates using stretch fabric buildings, which the city said in its application would be acceptable, but not mandatory, while the Developers Collaborative proposed a more traditional building structure. FD Stonewater partners with Boulos Asset Management, SMRT (architects and engineers), Gorrill Palmer Consulting Engineers, Landry French Construction, Haley Ward, Summit Geotechnical Services and the DLR group.
The company offers a 30-year ground lease for the land and a 30-year leasehold improvement lease, after which the city would own the building for a purchase price of $ 1.
A third proposal from Fuego Blue, controlled by local developer Ron Gan, doesn’t even mention an emergency shelter, although he said the city could still add emergency shelter beds, as it would control the building. Gan said the city should issue a new request for housing proposals, not a shelter.
“A mega-shelter is just not the right project,” Gan said. “We submitted our plan to be nothing more than a skeleton. We’re saying here’s a different way of doing it. And if you can house people, it’s a better idea than to house them. “
Gan believes the city should take the lead in developing housing on several city-owned plots on Riverside Street. In addition to the location of the proposed shelter, he is considering building city housing at Riverton Trolley Park and Riverside Golf Course in a former three-hole course and driving range.
Gan said these sites could accommodate at least 400 units of “temporary housing” for seniors, transitional housing, labor, families, subsidized industrial space, teachers and municipal workers. He said about 100 housing units could be built at the proposed location of the shelter.
“It’s our idea,” he says. “It’s not necessarily the idea. But the idea of shelter does not work.
Bunker said he understands the city’s decision to build a new shelter remains controversial, but he is eager to move the city’s project forward and get involved in the fight against homelessness in Portland. Her company is currently developing a transitional housing project for homeless women recovering from opioid addiction on State Street.
“We’ve been talking about it for a long time. We want to see something happen and tthis is what the council voted onBunker said of the proposed shelter. “Last winter people slept outside. The more we talk about it – and the more we do nothing – another winter is coming and they are going to sleep outside.
He added: “If 10 years later nothing has been done and which we are still talking about, we will have failed as a community.”
April showers followed by May flowers