Episode 47: The Community Knows What They Want

People at an event at Orchards of 82nd affordable housing development in Portland. Credit APANO
The community knows what they want

Duncan Hwang is interim co-executive director at APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon). APANO’s offices and an event space are on the ground floor of Orchards of 82nd. Gauri Rajbaidya, a senior associate with SERA Architects. SERA teamed with APANO and other partners (ROSE Community DevelopmentHousing Development Center and O’Neill/Walsh Community Builders) to design and build this mixed-use affordable apartment building in outer Southeast Portland. 

Recalling how they each became involved in the Orchards project, Duncan describes APANO’s evolution from community organizing to community development, while Gauri says his involvement started with music, playing with and for other immigrants. 

As Duncan and Gauri explain, the Orchards of 82nd originated in community visioning for the Jade District, one of Portland’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative areas. The 2014 Jade District Visioning Plan involved a diverse community, including white residents and Latino, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Russian-speaking residents. The community identified the vacant furniture store at 82nd and Division as both an eyesore and an opportunity. They also raised concerns about transportation safety, a need for community gathering spaces and green space. Portland Metro, the region’s MPO, observed the visioning sessions, learning that the vacant furniture store was a key acquisition target for the community. With a long-term view of TOD along TriMet’s future Division Transit Project, Metro bought the building, leasing it short-term to APANO as an impromptu community site.

Gauri and Duncan talk about the long sequence from vision to building. Trying to “do urban renewal in a more community-driven way,” they started with a small amount of Tax Increment Financing and slowly built community trust before taking on the $20 million affordable housing project. They talk too, about long-time advocacy along the corridor and the tradeoffs involved in transportation projects. Also, don’t miss the brief discussion of one other outcome of long-standing community-based work: the transfer, almost completed, of 82nd Avenue from state to city control. 

“It’s really about being rooted in the place. And hence comes to all of these other things, you know, affordable housing, parks and nature, access, safety, safe routes to school, everything. You know, it’s all connected then.”
 — Gauri Rajbaidya

“The first thing we did was the visioning. And then we built the community garden. And then we ran these night markets and really activated an under-utilized space. We’ve worked on advocating for traffic and safety improvements . . . . What kind of smaller projects can you do to demonstrate yes, we’re following this vision and taking the community demands and asks to heart and moving those priorities. And then scaling up to developing things like affordable housing.”
— Duncan Hwang

Featured Guests

Duncan Hwang, Interim Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Portland, Oregon

Gauri Rajbaidya, LEED AP, Principal, SERA, Portland, Oregon

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