Concerns about parking, emergency access and proximity to services, among others, are swirling around plans to build affordable senior housing next to the Tigard Senior Center.
In its current form, the project calls for the construction of a four-story building on a city-owned lot at 8815 SW Omara Street that would provide 50 to 60 affordable housing units for people aged 62 and older, according to a city staff report. Nonprofit affordable housing firm Northwest Housing Alternatives would lease the property and develop the project.
“We thought this was a good location because it would be adjacent to the senior center, also the library and the Fanno Creek Trail, and not too far from Main Street,” Redevelopment Project Manager Sean Farrelly told the council during a Feb. 4 update on the project.
However, several residents spoke at the meeting to take issue with the proposed location. Among their concerns were that the site did not have enough parking; residents of the senior housing development would not have ready access to services, shopping and public transportation; there could be flooding issues with nearby Fanno Creek resulting from construction; and the proposed site plan has inadequate access for emergency vehicles.
Echoing some of those concerns, Mayor Jason Snider noted that the senior center parking lot fills up every day at lunchtime. The addition of housing units would exacerbate the issue, as the plan calls for some degree of shared parking between the housing units and the senior center.
Farrelly said that the housing would be marketed as a place where not every resident will have a parking spot.
Trell Anderson of Northwest Housing Alternatives told the council that his organization works with transportation companies to ensure that residents have daily access to services and amenities.
But, he added, “I don’t want to sugarcoat it for you: parking is an issue here. It’s tight. It’s going to be tight. We’re going to do the very best with what we have to accommodate the senior center and the parking needs of the residents.”
Snider also asked about access to the development for emergency vehicles. Anderson said technical questions would be better answered by the design team, which was not present.
“In terms of fire equipment,” he added, “I know that our architect team has had conversations with the fire department about their needs. I think we’re close to a site plan that meets those needs.”
TVF&R would need to sign off on the final plan, Farrelly added. He also said that the project would not be built in the flood plain.
Overall, Anderson said, “These are cascading threshold events for us. If we can’t figure some of these out, then it may not be possible to do the original vision that you all had for this site. So it’s really important for us to work through these in a methodical process.”
Regarding concerns that were raised that the city is moving forward with a project without weighing public input, Councilor Liz Newton noted that, at this early stage in the process, an application for the project is being put together and the development will be subject to review later.
“Once an application is finalized and submitted to the planning department, that’s the point at which we would go into a formal process of review,” she said. “So notice would go out. We would have a neighborhood meeting and they would have an opportunity to comment then.”