Winter 2018 Policy & Project Update

by | Mar 8, 2018

Hello Everyone!

We’ve got a lot of news to share on the project and policy fronts and have provided plenty of links for those who can take it.


Mason St. Townhomes
It’s coming together!  All buildings are up, siding is nearly wrapped, and internal paths are being poured.  We’ve been scheming some artistic surprises for the (highly visible) gable ends while we wait for dry/exterior painting weather.  The homes furthest along now sport cabinets, countertops, lighting, interior doors, and marmoleum.  Mini-split heaters are keeping our finish carpenters and flooring crews toasty warm.  Space in our on-site house/office is a little cramped, thanks to a couple thousand pounds of beautiful live-edge maple and fir that we salvaged from the site and look forward to installing as window sills/seats and for entry benches.

We’ll start marketing these homes when the site is looking sharp and a couple units are ready to show off.  Estimated timeline: Listing at the end of April, with move-ins a couple months later.  Meanwhile, we’re continuing to work with Proud Ground to ensure 3 of these homes are permanently affordable to first-time buyers making no more than 80% MFI (median family income).  Our listing agent, Amber Turner of Think Realty, has more information at:

Building view from Mason St.

Reclaimed wood

View from near the completed common house (and our tree!)

Courtyard Plex (working name)
In June 2017, we picked up a couple lots spanned by a dilapidated house, one block off NE 42nd Ave.  We’ve taken the house down and are now waiting for permits to build two side-by-side ‘co-living’ communities, each consisting of a house and attached ADU. Collectively, these L-shaped buildings will create a shared courtyard open to the street and anchored by a mature cedar tree.  We’re also preserving a stand of fir trees along the property frontage.

We’ll be partnering with OpenDoor, which has been managing co-living rental communities since 2013 and is known for its creative, community-centric response to rising housing costs. By sharing food (through bulk food buying and shared meals) and utility costs, residents pay less than 70% of what they’d pay to live in a studio apartment. We’re excited to have their expertise! See more on our new page.

We’re seeking a few accredited investors to help finance this project (in addition to standard institutional financing).  If you might be interested, please contact me for details.

Cully Green 
We’re also in the permitting phase for Cully Green, a 23-home community on 1.5 acres across the street from Cully Grove.* This new community is designed around (and inspired by!) a centrally located grove of fir trees and will also contain 3 permanently-affordable homes for first-time buyers in partnership with Proud Ground.  More info. here.

*Since our last update, Cully Grove won a 2017 National AIA Design Award!

Looking ahead…
After working through our current projects, it’ll be time for a much-needed family sabbatical abroad to find new community inspiration.  We’ve been cuing up a couple wonderful sites for 2021 that could showcase small and affordable housing options.  It’s too early to divulge locations, so keep an eye out for future updates.


ADU Guide and Technical Assistance
We’ve assembled a cracker-jack team to produce a guide to accessory dwelling units (ADUs) for cities. It will be available to AARP members and state chapters across the country in late May!  We’ll also be part of AARP’s “Swat Team” to provide technical assistance to jurisdictions all over the US interested in making accessory dwellings more broadly available as a housing choice.

Build Small, Live Large 2017
I was part of the planning team for the first nation-wide conference focused on ADUs last November at PSU.  Attendance was fantastic, with over 300 builders, financiers, policy-makers, designers, and other aficionados convening in Portland to share policies, new initiatives, and enthusiasm for this rapidly (re)emerging housing type.

Civic Involvement
I continue to serve on Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission, where the learning curve never seems to stop climbing.  We’re gearing up for a busy year that will include the Residential Infill Project and Better Housing By Design.  Collectively, these two projects will update rules on what can be built across approximately half of Portland’s land area.  We look forward to LOTS of public comment from all perspectives.  Given that this is Portland, I’m sure we won’t be disappointed.

Finally, dear to my heart, is the Build Small Coalition (formerly the “Space-Efficient Housing Working Group”), now hosted by Metro.  This collection of public, private and nonprofit small home advocates has a pretty amazing track record of getting sh*t done to support the development of smaller, less expensive, and more energy-efficient housing types in the Portland metropolitan area and beyond.   If this sounds like your cup of tea, join us!

Huge thanks to the Orange Splot crew, without whom there’s no way I could juggle all this stuff.  Tom Costello and Derin Williams are our rock star construction leaders.  Justine Ealy is helping to move new projects forward.  And Ted Snider and Ben Campbell are taking on a wide variety of construction tasks to keep our Mason jobsite humming along smoothly.

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Eli & the Orange Splot LLC Team