In 2017, the City of Portland released a competitive RFP offering to sell city land in the industrial zone of East Bayside. The goal was to bring people and businesses back to a neighborhood that had been home to industrial and municipal uses for decades. We entered the competition with a proposal to build twenty-three compact but light-filled apartments and were selected to convert a parking lot into new homes.
Parris Terraces apartments are both attractive and affordable, seeking to create housing for an income bracket overlooked in the current market. Units can be purchased at Workforce Housing prices with no government subsidy and meet the desperate need for Missing Middle Housing. Upon opening, the building was fully occupied with 18 of the 23 homes going to first-time homebuyers at prices as low as $195k, a figure unheard of for downtown home ownership.
In order to fit 23 homes in a small footprint, the apartments are designed to be as efficient as possible. An open kitchen/living space allows for airiness in the common area, while a compact bedroom and bathroom leave extra room for closets and in-unit laundry. Tall ceilings – ranging from 9 to 14 feet – create the illusion of a larger space while elongated windows welcome abundant daylight. Six of the seven upper apartments also have a small balcony, providing a connection to the outdoors invaluable to urban living. Residents enjoy 24-hour fresh air ventilation with heat recovery, as well as individual thermostats. As a final consideration, a first-floor guest apartment is available for use by all owners to accommodate visits from traveling loved ones.
The building is situated just a few blocks from the center of downtown Portland and within walking distance of multiple grocers, restaurants, recreational areas, and other municipal services. It is close to a variety of forms of public transportation, with bike racks and parking included onsite.
Parris Terraces also sits near the Back Cove tidal basin – recently named an EPA area of concern. To protect this natural resource, we designed onsite storm water management via an intensive landscape rain garden. Water from the roof and graded parking lot is funneled through weathering steel weirs, cascading through filtration zones of different native plantings and soil types.
Sustainable design and Passive House techniques were applied to the structure as well. The project has a predicted overall energy use of 58% of a typical multi-family building (EUI of 22), even without renewable energy systems installed. We used local and carbon sequestering materials, avoiding high embodied carbon products as much as possible. The wood-framed building has densely-packed cellulose insulation and only a single piece of structural steel. All interior finishes are low-emitting and without toxins of concern. The heating and cooling systems – cold climate air source heat pumps – are completely fossil fuel free. Advanced air sealing methods and a thermally broken enclosure further promote energy efficiency. The result is a cost-effective system with the health of residents and the surrounding environment in mind.