The Modern Rich Apartments - How We Did It
The Nuts and Bolts
Innovative Housing is working to create a more economic and efficient housing development model and put affordable units on the ground without tapping scarce affordable housing resources. We spent 2011 looking for a property that would allow us to demonstrate we could develop faster and for less money without using public funds and the Rich Building was a perfect fit. IHI leveraged its own funds, along with private debt, to develop 34 studio apartments affordable to working people and students in the Old Town/River District area. We completed construction in six months and our total cost was $75,000/unit (including acquisition), which is about half of what it costs to develop a similar unit using traditional funding sources. Because we are not using restricted funding, IHI also has the maximum flexibility in who we house - these new studios are home to students and working people who don't make enough to live in the Pearl but want to be close to jobs or simply live in an urban environment. Because we are a mission driven organization, we charge affordable rents but we don't have to turn people away for making too much money and we don't have to burden residents with annual income certifications.

A Cool Mix of Old and New
Luckily the bones of the Rich Building were in good shape. IHI retained as much original material as possible, refinishing fir floors, repairing and retaining original wood windows, and reusing historic unit doors. The original unit configuration consisted of 42 single room occupancy (SRO) units, which were small rooms with no bathrooms or kitchens. IHI combined two units to create one larger, studio apartment and added kitchenettes and bathrooms to every unit. The old steam heat system was decommissioned and radiators were replaced with energy efficient radiant cove heating. Ceiling fans, stylish cabinets, new paint schemes, and efficient pendant lighting brought comfort, convenience, and a modern edge to the apartments.

What is Innovative?
IHI extended the second story light well down to the first floor to create a new outdoor courtyard. Doing this provided access to eight new ADA adaptable/accessible ground floor units and an opportunity to tie the new courtyard walls into the floors, walls, and roof, seismically strengthening the building. It also created outdoor space for residents and outside dining space for a new restaurant that anchors the commercial storefronts at the corner of NW 2nd Avenue and Couch. View the photogallery of the Modern Rich demo and construction phases.

What is Up with the Name?
The Modern Rich Apartments is an homage to the building's original name. The Hotel Modern was built in the early 1900's as a downtown rooming house for "workingmen." It was renamed The Rich Building in 1961. IHI felt the "Modern Rich Apartments" was the perfect way to describe its modern take on such a great historic building.

Simpsons fans may recognize the building from the Blowfish episode. A sushi restaurant that previously occupied the corner space was featured in this animated classic. More recently, television audiences saw The Rich on Grimm, a series on NBC, which used the vacant building as a film location.