A parking lot along the new light rail line through Portland's Brooklyn neighborhood may soon be home to apartments and a community market.
TriMet has selected a developer to build on a long, skinny piece of property along Southeast 17th Avenue just north of Southeast Holgate Boulevard. TriMet owns the property, which is currently a parking lot, but will not maintain ownership if negotiations are successful.
The developer, Hadi Asgharzadeh, declined to comment on the nature of the development.
"There is nothing strange or confidential," he said. "It's just premature."
One vision for the building is available on the website for Brooklyn NowRuz Development, a site built exclusively for this development project. According to the site, the building will consist of 36 residential units — four designed as live/work spaces — and a community market.
TriMet's goal for the development, according to the site, is to increase ridership and activity along the light rail, which is being built along Southeast 17th Avenue.
Stacy Johnson, a Brooklyn Action Corps board member, said the main concern for most neighbors is that the design of the building fit in with the neighborhood. Johnson has met with the developer and TriMet representatives about the development.
"The change is going to happen," she said. "You either fight it and it happens to you, or you work with them and help shape it."
Johnson hopes increased activity in the area will lower crimes such as graffiti. While the Brooklyn neighborhood is convenient to everything, she said, it isn't particularly walkable.
Steve Schmunk, vice chair of the neighborhood association, said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the project.
The development isn't what Schmunk considers ideal -- he'd like to see higher quality materials on the exterior and condos instead of apartments — but he's excited about the possibility of a food market.
He's talked to a lot of neighbors, he said, and overall they support the project.
Four proposals were submitted to TriMet for development on the site, Kathryn Krygier said in an email. Krygier is the leader of TriMet's Transit-Oriented Development Program.
She said TriMet was "impressed with the developer's vision for the neighborhood, his sensitive approach to design, his program to create 24 hour uses by the station with higher density, his public outreach process, and the financial viability of the project."
TriMet formed a committee to advise TriMet staff throughout the bidding process, Krygier said. The committee included members of the Brooklyn Action Corps and HAND Neighborhood Association, she said, as well as a local business owner and Metro staff.
"The neighborhood had a say in what would go up, which is really wonderful," said Bob Kellett, a land use specialist at Southeast Uplift.
The site is zoned for general employment, meaning development is limited to industrial and commercial buildings. For that reason, the developer will have to get permission from the city to construct a residential building, Kellett said. The pre-application conference is scheduled for Oct. 29.
Copyright 2013 - The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.