This week reflected a genuinely inspiring moment that has taken almost exactly four years of work to bring to a reality. In December of 2014, the Banner Furniture store was on the market, and susceptible to development for any number of reasons. The furniture store had been vacant for several years and community members constantly asked me as a new community advocate what would happen with the site, and if could we do anything about it.
Through consistent and real grass-roots engagement and advocacy, Metro purchased the site in advance of the Division Transit Project, knowing that affordable housing and community space were needs in the neighborhood due to the work of our founding Jade District Steering Committee members, long before I joined the Jade District. Once the land came under control of a public agency, we developed and advocated both a short-term and a long-term goal and vision for the work.
In the short-term, we asked for and activated the vacant furniture store, turning a dilapidated eye-sore into a community gathering space filled with evening lights, drums, dancing, and symphonies of sound and art. We fulfilled our short-term vision, bringing over 20,000 people through the doors each year before development of the permanent use of the space.
This led into our long-term vision, a mixed-use affordable housing development that recognized and maintained the need for affordable community gathering spaces in the neighborhood. This long-term vision required so much work that it’s impossible to thank everyone involved. ROSE CDC fought for and won the right to develop the property, and leadership at APANO from the board and executive staff managed a $2 million capital campaign with support from the Jade District Steering Committee and countless partners, the vision marched along through the struggles of political change, organizational challenges, and leadership transition. Over the past year, we’ve seen the demolition of the old site and the new building rising up slowly.
I’m extremely proud of the team for managing the process for housing lease-up. We’ve coordinated closely with ROSE CDC to engage with Cascade Management, the property management company that manages the lease-up process and day-to-day maintenance and to help craft the Baby Booster preference policy to increase the chances of the folks we’re trying to serve with these valuable housing units. We also would like to share thanks to the many community partners working with many different communities in-language in encouraging folks to apply. After a hectic couple of months, the waitlist is now closed, and this month, the first families to become tenants with permanent affordable housing at the new building officially began moving in!
We look forward to meeting our new neighbors!
Todd Struble, Jade District Manager
This programming message brought to you by APANO Communities United Fund, a 501(c3) nonprofit organization.