Al Plute points to a floor plan for a residential remodel of the third floor of the Bowman Building from one of the studio apartments Thursday in Pendleton. Plute’s plans would add 18 more residential apartments to the downtown area.
The third floor of the Bowman Building may transition from office space to residential apartments.
Businesses on the third floor of the Bowman Building have already moved, or are in the process of moving to make way for residential apartments.
Looking to expand his property portfolio beyond Portland, developer Nate Brusselback looked at some of the largest cities in the Southwest. But he ended up purchasing several apartment complexes in a much smaller desert town.
Brusselback’s investment in Pendleton didn’t stop there. He recently secured building permits to construct a 25-unit duplex complex on Southwest 28th Drive near Juniper House.
“I didn’t know anything about Pendleton … but it’s really grown on me,” he said in an interview Thursday.
Brusselback now owns 128 apartments in three different complexes. In the last year, he purchased Pendleton Point Apartments, South Hills Apartments and Edgewater Apartments.
He eventually read a housing study commissioned by the city, which showed not only need for housing in general, but a specific need for three-bedroom housing.
With a property available across the street from South Hills Apartments, Brusselback decided to expand his fledgling group of Pendleton assets.
Brusselback said the duplexes will span 25 units and an office, each unit 1,262 square feet with a one car garages.
Current plans call for 20 three-bedroom units and five two-bedroom apartments with dual master bedrooms. Brusselback thought the latter option could be popular with college students who want to live with roommates.
The complex will also include a playground and fitness center.
Brusselback said the rental prices aren’t finalized, but they’re currently considering charging $1,450 per month. Contractors are already preparing the site for construction, and Brusselback is aiming to have the duplexes finished by late summer or early fall.
The duplexes aren’t the only housing project under development in what’s shaping up to be a banner year for homebuilding.
A former Pendleton city councilor himself, developer Al Plute returned to council chambers Tuesday with a proposition.
Having already renovated the St. George Plaza and the Brown Building apartment complexes, Plute told the council that he was now focused on adding new apartments at a third downtown property: the Bowman Building.
A three-story building on the corner of Frazer Avenue and South Main Street, Plute said he has mostly used the building for office space since he bought it in 2008. During that time, he said it’s been 100 percent occupied only once, and that period lasted about three weeks.
He was inspired to make the change when he was showing an office to a prospective tenant who told him the spaces were pretty enough to live in.
Plute said he’s ready to convert the third floor into 16 studio apartments and two one-bedroom units while the second floor will remain office space. The apartments will range between 267 and 520 square feet and either cost $650 or $725 per month.
He anticipated the units will appeal to college students, personnel testing unmanned aerial systems on extended stays in Pendleton and people living on social security, and expects them to be rented before the project is completed.
Plute estimated the Bowman renovation project would cost between $800,000 and $1 million. Through the Pendleton Development Commission’s various grant programs, Plute said he wanted to request between $300,000-$400,000 from the commission next month.
“This project is a tough project,” he said. “Nobody in the downtown is putting in second story development.”
If Plute can get the funding together, he wants to start construction in April with the goal of finishing in September.
The Bowman isn’t the only property he plans to reconfigure. He told the council he also wants to add six ground-level apartment units to the St. George.
2017 was shaping up to be another slow year for housing permit activity before a last-minute flurry set a ten-year high.
Through November, the city issued 26 building permits for single family, multi-family and manufactured homes, right in line with the yearly average. But Brusselback’s duplexes and three additional houses pushed that number to 55.
While the Pendleton City Council has a goal of seeing 50 or more dwellings built per year, Mayor John Turner said he wanted to wait until the houses planned in 2017 are finished before chalking up a victory.
But he did find it encouraging that a developer cited the city’s housing study when considering home construction. Turner, who led the committees who oversaw the housing studies in 2011 and 2016 and chairs the city’s current housing committee, said the city didn’t market itself or provide housing data to potential developers before the studies were created.
While the 28th Drive duplexes might cost more than a mortgage payment for a similar-sized single-family home, Turner said it would allow some residents to move out of substandard housing.
Turner has mentioned new additions to the Pendleton Heights and Sunridge Estates subdivisions as other developments that could further boost housing numbers.
To alleviate Pendleton’s “screaming need” for housing, Turner has a few other initiatives he would like to see explored in the future.
The housing committee has been looking at creating a revolving loan fund, Turner said, which would provide a bridge between private financing and project cost.
The mayor also wants something done about “zombie properties,” blighted homes that have undergone foreclosure and are unoccupied for extended periods of time.
Lastly, Turner wants Pendleton to land a large-scale development. He pointed to large tracts of land available above North Hill and between Interstate 84 and the city’s water filtration plant as potential development candidates.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.
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