Broadway housing project approved

The State Board of Higher Education approved Portland State University’s request to increase student housing Friday, Feb. 21. PSU will now move ahead with plans to sell property located between Southwest Broadway and Jackson to Broadway Housing, LLC, with plans to redevelop the property and enter into a housing agreement for the next 30 years.

Scheduled to break ground during May of this year, the project will cost $49 million and consist of turning the existing site into a 217,000 square-foot mixed-use facility.

With retail space on the first floor, and classrooms and computer labs on the second, the remaining eight floors will be used for student housing. They will provide 384 new studio housing units for PSU students.

Burt Ewart, manager of Campus Design and Planning, explained that the approval for the new housing development is good news for members of the PSU community.

“This is a unique project because it’s a true public and private partnership,” he said. “It’s also going to provide more housing when money is dear, allow more students to live on campus and reduce the number of cars that are commuting daily.”

Currently, while more than 500 students are on the waiting list for housing, PSU only offers 919 student housing units in addition to the 500 units available through College Housing Northwest.

Due in part to an increase in the enrollment of first-time freshmen and international students, PSU enrollment reached a record 23,000 students last fall and achieved the highest enrollment rate of any state university in Oregon.

The growing population of students is causing an increase in demand for on-campus housing, and the new housing project is expected to provide much-needed living space for those attending PSU.

Matt Lounsbury, from Natural Logic, explained that designers hope to create a building with a “LEED silver rating” from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. They plan to receive the rating by paying close attention to specific aspects of the building process such as the materials used, recycled content, energy and atmosphere, and air quality. It is also hoped that 95 percent of the construction waste will be recycled.

An energy-efficient “eco-roof” will be put in place on top of the new building, providing insulation and noise reduction inside. Composed of a thin layer of living vegetation, an eco-roof can also reduce storm run-off as well as extend the life of a roof.

In addition to the architectural efforts being made to create an environmentally friendly site, the building plans call for recycling facilities to be on every other floor of those used for student housing, bike hooks to be available in each studio and bike and Flexcar parking spots to be located near the building.

Julie North, director of auxiliary services, explained that though rent and utility prices are still unsure, projected prices for the new studios range from $520 to $540.

Planners are also trying to “bundle” services, which would provide students with high-speed Internet service, phone lines and other services as inexpensively as possible.

North said students have made it clear that while they would like to have extra amenities, they can’t afford them.

The Broadway Housing facility is expected to be completed and ready for students by fall 2004.