Wilkes East residents say 'no' to apartments at 165th & NE Halsey St

Wilkes East residents say 'no' to 64-unit apartment complex at NE Halsey St & 165th Ave saying there are all ready too many apartments. Info here!
16539 NE Halsey, Gresham OR
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Neighbors are worried about the pressures on the infrastructure, the school district and the traffic, saying there are all ready too many apartments

Source: The Gresham Outlook
Friday 28 August
by Jodi Weinberger

Residents in the Wilkes East neighborhood are objecting to a 64-unit apartment complex to be built at Northeast Halsey Street and 165th Avenue, both because of the density and the fear of creating more low-income housing.

“The primary thing that most people feel is that there are too many apartments already in our area,” said Kris Freiermuth, president of the Wilkes East Neighborhood Association. “I’m voicing what was indicated at the (neighborhood association) meeting. They are worried about the pressures on the infrastructure, the school district and the traffic.”

For weeks, residents have been voicing concerns about a growing trash problem and code violation issues in Wilkes East to the city, police department, and in letters to the editor in The Outlook. Many residents say another complex will just add to these issues.

The four-story apartment complex, to be located at 16539 N.E. Halsey St., is being called the Waterside Apartments. It would contain one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with elevator access to upper floors and a playground in the yard.

The building is being proposed by SGS Development LLC, a Bend-based company that has built several projects in East Multnomah County.

At the Wilkes East Neighborhood Association meeting on Monday, Aug. 24, more than 50 residents showed up to express concern about the building.

“There was a wide range of people there and it was a resounding ‘No,’” said Gresham City Councilor Mario Palmero. “They do not want an apartment complex on 165th and Halsey. They feel that a growing concentration of low-income people would be bad for the neighborhood.”

Palmero took the neighborhood association’s concerns to a city council roundtable meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25, telling councilors, “They wanted me to report back and let the city council know that they are not interested in this.”

Palmero said Waterside is being proposed for those 55-and-over, but the complex will not be exclusive to that age group and many worried that it will attract low-income families, which will stress the school district.

“There are units that are three bedrooms,” Palmero said. “Part of my job outside of the city council is to get homeless people into housing. I’ve never been to a 55-and-older building that has three bedrooms and a playground.”

In the Aug. 21 edition of The Outlook, Gresham resident Lisa Amen said the proposed complex is “very disturbing news.”

“I normally wouldn’t have a problem with an over 55 housing complex, but the playground on the plan seems to suggest otherwise, no matter what Mr. Bemis and his cronies say,” Amen wrote. “In addition, the builder, Chet Antonsen, built the complex on Northeast 165th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, which is a Section 8 complex and is part of an especially high crime-ridden area.”

In a phone call on Thursday, Aug. 27, Antonsen said rents would likely range from around $900 for a one-bedroom and up to $1,500 for a three-bedroom unit.

He added, however, that his general rule is not to take subsidized renters, but would amend that stance on a case-by-case basis.

Antonsen also said the city is requiring a playground on the property.

“I’m a neighbor also and I share (the residents’ concern), but the city has determined the best zoning for the property,” Antonsen said. “Most people are just against development. They’re against growth. Growth is what sustains a city. The ideal thing is to have managed growth, and I think the city does a good job of managing growth.”

Plans have not yet been officially filed with the city, though a “pre-application” meeting was held on July 29, according to city staff. The property is zoned to allow multi-family housing and would allow up to 72 units.

Freiermuth said concerns extend beyond overcrowding. She said the property is home to many trees and wildlife.

“This is a beautiful piece of property that would make a wonderful park,” Freiermuth said. She said the three-acre property has a meadow, cedar and filbert trees, foxes and waterfowl.

Freiermuth wrote in an email, “We would really like an opportunity to see if Multnomah Water and Soil, Metro and other stakeholders of Nadaka (Nature Center) could assist us in turning this particular property into a park.”