The Design Commission has approved the 97th and Couch Apartments, a six story building in Gateway designed by Works Progress Architecture. The building will include 61 residential units, with a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units, as well as a small ground floor retail space. 62 long term and 6 short bicycle parking spaces will be provided, plus 11 spaces for electric scooters. No vehicular parking is proposed.
The building will be subject to the city’s inclusionary housing rules, which require the provision of affordable housing or the payment of a fee-in-lieu.
The project will be located at 9648 NE Couch St, at the corner of NE Couch St and 97th Ave. To the south of the building is a remnant parcel owned by TriMet, which will be landscaped as part of the project. To the west of the site is the I-205 multiuse path, which will receive new landscaping.
In April 2019 the City Council approved a Local Improvement District (LID), which will provide street, sidewalk, and stormwater improvements along NE 97th Ave between E Burnside and the previously completed improvements to the north. A future phase of the LID will extend NE Couch and Davis between NE 97th and 99th, in order to break down the superblock that currently exists. NE Couch St west of 97th is expected to be vacated, and improved as a pedestrian plaza providing a connection to the multiuse path.
The primary material for the building will be a dark integral color Viroc cement bonded particle board, with fiber cement panel accent areas. Other materials include metal panel, perforated metal panel guardrails, concrete, vinyl windows and aluminum storefronts.
97th and Couch was approved at its first design review hearing, held on May 16th, 2019. In the conclusion to the Final Findings and Decision by the Design Commission the project was found to respond to the desired future character of Gateway:
The project provides a mixed-use development which incorporates commercial and residential space, both of which are desired development in the Gateway Regional Center. The area is envisioned to redevelop into a highly-urbanized, pedestrian-oriented center, with an overall built size and scale second only to Portland’s Central City.
This project’s massing strategy breaks down the quarter-City block scale of the development to address the many speeds of travel surround the site – Rail, Freeway, Local Street, Bike and Pedestrian – as well as the widely varying existing and future building stock in the area. A human-scale ground floor shifts to a two-story mid-level and variable top articulations shift horizontally and vertically. When the planned NE Couch Street vacation is completed, as a separate filing, it will be converted to publicly accessible plaza.
The resulting architecture features traditional building forms, typologies, and materials in a contemporary way which integrates the scale and finishes of future development in area while referencing the current residential and industrial scales and materials. Utilization of an over- sized shingle façade references the texture of residential homes in the area at a scale appropriate for the scale of the building.
Building permits will need to applied for and obtained before construction can begin.