Argyle Gardens Groundbreaking

Argyle Gardens Groundbreaking

Seventy-two low-income and formerly homeless individuals will soon find a home in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland through the development of Argyle Gardens, a project sponsored and developed by Transition Projects. Initially developed under a Meyer Memorial Trust grant, Argyle Gardens is the first buildout of LISAH (Low Income Single Adult Housing), a flexible, affordable, low-cost housing prototype built from modular units.

Designed as a kit of parts that can be organized into various configurations, the dignified co-living model accommodates an optimum number of residents to share community space and support. The modular system can be configured as formerly homeless, workforce, or student housing, or to house intergenerational families together.

On September 6th, local dignitaries joined the Kenton community and project team to celebrate the installation of the first module units on the site. A brief program included remarks from Metro Councilor Sam Chase; Michael Parkhurst of Meyer Memorial Trust; and George Devendorf, Executive Director of Transition Projects.

“Our co-modular housing approach seeks to drive down both the construction and operating costs of deeply affordable housing by refreshing the single room occupancy approach to housing single adults with very low incomes. We refer to it as “SRO 2.0” and believe that this concept will play an important role in helping address our area’s tremendous gap in the supply of affordable housing,” said George Devendorf, Executive Director of Transition Projects.

Argyle Garden’s Kenton location is a city-owned, industrial site close to the MAX light rail line, bus lines, and commercial shopping areas. The project consists of four buildings of deeply affordable units oriented around central outdoor space. The largest building contains thirty-five 220 square foot studio apartment units. A large community room, laundry facilities, and support service offices, serve as a central hub and communal gathering space for all residents. Each of three co-living buildings feature two six-bedroom units with two shared bathrooms and a large kitchen.

Funded in large part with low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) from the State of Oregon, the design of Argyle Gardens aims for maximum impact for minimal cost. Each building is composed of modular units constructed offsite by Mods PDX. Gabled roof trusses, shingled roofs, and durable cladding will make the modular construction imperceptible from the exterior. Each building takes a simple rectilinear form with a slice removed to reveal color and translucent polycarbonate panels that bring vibrancy to the composition.

The site’s steep topography and existing vegetation provide privacy but challenged the design team to locate the buildings to balance ADA access requirements, environmental considerations, and the maintenance of the large staging area required for modular construction. The resulting careful calibration of siting meets those needs while minimizing direct solar heat gain on the polycarbonate walls, enabling the main entry stair towers to be unconditioned spaces.

Transition Projects, Holst, Walsh Construction, and development consultant Housing Development Center involved the progressive, supportive Kenton neighborhood in the development of the project from the beginning. By offering deeply affordable units with supportive services and adjacent outdoor space, Argyle Gardens will help Kenton alleviate other issues related to homelessness in the area. The Kenton residents recognize that the transformation of an under-developed site into a vital residential development will improve neighborhood livability.

The co-living module systems works within the existing Portland Zoning code and can adapt to any area that allows duplexes or additional density. In Portland, six bedrooms and a shared kitchen constitute a single dwelling unit, so one co-living module is considered a duplex that houses twelve people. Efficient construction techniques, prefabricated elements, a maximized efficiency of space, and an aesthetic typology can easily adapt the LISAH prototype to a variety of locales across Oregon—from city neighborhoods to the Coast to the Cascades.

Up Next