Plambeck Gardens to bring multi-family affordable housing to Basalt Creek area

The 116-unit-family Plambeck Gardens, now under construction, will offer much-needed 3 and 4-bedroom apartments for low-income families. Courtesy Photo/ Carleton Hart Architecture
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Construction of a new affordable housing complex is underway, and the non-profit behind the project expects apartments to be ready for move-in by early next fall.

Mayor Frank Bubenik tells the crowd gathered at Plambeck Gardens’ June groundbreaking about his long-time friendship with the housing development’s namesake, the late Doug Plambeck. He credited Plambeck with igniting his commitment to affordable housing in Tualatin. Courtesy Photo/Jacob Boyett

Plambeck Gardens, named for the late Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) founder and board treasurer Doug Plambeck, is Tualatin’s first affordable housing complex developed by a non-profit and the first multi-family development in the Basalt Creek district.

“Plambeck Gardens was a pet project of Doug’s,” Carol Plambeck, his wife of 42 years, told the crowd at a groundbreaking last month. “He had been trying to site an affordable housing complex in Tualatin for many years, but there was very little available land that people wanted to sell.”

CPAH, which provides low-income housing with on-site social services and programs for renters, is developing the 4.66-acre site along Southwest Boones Ferry Road in part with $14 million in funds from Washington County’s portion of a 2018 voter-approved Metro Affordable Housing Bond.

The city of Tualatin contributed $1 million of federal American Rescue Act funding to install water and sewer to the complex, and additionally granted a tax waiver for as long as Plambeck Gardens continues to offer affordable housing.

“Affordable housing is one of our top priorities, and it remains so,” Mayor Frank Bubenik said. “Tualatin City Council allocated $1 million of our ARPA money to provide the funding to get water and sewer to this building because it’s going to be built before the housing around it.”

The state kicked in $34 million through a combination of direct funding sources and tax credits, Oregon Housing and Community Services director of communications Kate Gonsa, one of a half-dozen officials who spoke at the June 16th groundbreaking.

The event celebrated both the project and Plambeck’s fierce advocacy for affordable housing as one speaker after another recalled his passion and impact on their personal involvement.

“This project has been very special to me. Carol and Doug lived three doors down from me,” Bubenik said, crediting Plambeck for igniting his drive to create affordable housing.

The two men often talked housing and politics, Plambeck’s dual passions.

When Bubenik ran for city council, Plambeck worked on his campaign, and when Bubenik later ran for his current position, he promised his friend he would prioritize affordable housing.

“When I decided to run for mayor, he said, ‘Frank can I ask you, please commit to bringing affordable housing to Tualatin,’” Bubenik relayed.

According to the mayor, the average Tualatin rent with utilities was about $1500 in 2020, and “in order to afford that, you need to make $63k a year, which is difficult for some people.”

Ten percent of Tualatin residents are below the federal poverty line, and 22 percent are at 200 percent.

“We still have lots of our residents struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

More than half the units in the four-story complex will have two or more bedrooms, creating much-needed housing for low-income families. The development additionally features large community gathering spaces, an indoor and outdoor garden, and a playground for kids.

“Twenty percent of the units will be 3-4 bedrooms. That’s unheard of,” said Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, “So this is a great start.”

CPAH is also collaborating with a half-dozen other organizations to provide residents access to health and support services, career coaching, and business development. Their partners include Cascade AIDS Project, Centro Cultural, Community Action, Lifeworks NW, Native American Rehabilitation Association, Neighborhood Health Center, and Unite Oregon.

“We did a tremendous amount to community outreach to determine our program and design so that I can say with certainty that this housing is deeply connected to that outreach,” Duke said, noting Plambeck Gardens is the non-profit’s largest project to date.

Plambeck helped founded the organization in 1993 and served as board treasurer, working actively until two weeks before his death from pancreatic cancer in March of 2020.

CPAH acquired the property, which sits just south of Horizon Community Church, shortly before Plambeck’s death.

“Doug’s up there watching over us, super happy, super happy for what’s happened with his family and super happy with what CPAH’s doing today,” Bubenik said. “I’m just glad to be part of it.”