Musolf Manor - How We Did It
The Nuts and Bolts
Musolf Manor's renovation was incredibly invasive, with contractors needing to touch almost every element of the building. This was particularly challenging because it was an occupied rehab and all of our commercial tenants stayed open during the 15 months of construction.

The contractors installed steel braces in the basement and ground floor (no x-bracing was allowed because Musolf is an historic building), up through the ground floor, and tied the upper floors to the walls and roof. The architect, contractor and structural engineer worked together to find a proprietary connection system for the steel moment frames. These frames created bracing for the large storefront openings. The special connections allowed the frames to be placed on site piece by piece, which made craning them into place possible without dismantling the building façade. All of this had to be done around existing commercial tenants, who kept their businesses open throughout the project.

It was important to IHI to respect and restore historic elements at Musolf Manor, but no one ever said it would be easy! The following are some examples of the extra effort it took our team to preserve history:

  • We restored historic interior stair railings instead of replacing them. Unfortunately, the old railings were too short to meet code, so our contractor had to build "curbs" below the historic railings to get them to code height.
  • Our tall ceilings were a defining characteristic of the interior corridors. Over the years, the ceilings had been crowded with all kinds of pipes, utilities, wires and unattractive light fixtures. Moving all the utilities out of the corridors would not have been feasible. Instead we moved the utilities as far to the edges of the ceiling as possible, painted them out, and hung historic style pendant light fixtures lower than the utilities, drawing the eye down to the historic unit entry doors while maintaining the visual height of the ceilings (see the before and after photos of this work). The plumbers and electricians put in the extra effort to make the corridors look wonderful.
  • We conducted historic photo research at the Oregon Historical Society to find a photo of the southeast corner of the building. This area had been altered substantially over the years. After two days of looking, we found a picture of the building across the street that happened to show our building too. We were able to restore historic façade details from that photo.
  • The historic exterior facades on the main floor required total rebuilding. Very little original material remained. One original feature was the "X" style transom windows, but many of the original metal windows were in bad condition, having rusted over the years. We had the windows dipped to remove the paint, and then a sheet metal shop repaired the windows that could be salvaged. Special glass was ordered to match the original as closely as possible. Our architect spent a lot of time looking for just the right glass! Many of the storefronts now have the restored original windows. For the windows that could not be salvaged, a local company made replica windows out of wood that very closely match the original metal windows. The transoms are a wonderful addition to the building, and the contractor really went the extra mile coordinating all the steps required to bring these windows back to life!
The Musolf lobby is a beautiful example of quality materials used in a location that many people can enjoy them. We added wood wainscoting, turned stair rails that mirror the historic rails upstairs, historic look light fixtures and historic look mosaic tile with decorative border inset. The lobby has a creative floor plan that incorporates separate spaces for visiting, television viewing, meeting, manager, desk staff, mailboxes, elevator, laundry, restrooms and storage. Every square foot was utilized while still providing an open, inviting, visually appealing space for the entryway to 95 homes.

During the project, the main lobby had to be shut down for six months for total reconstruction as well as elevator replacement. This was a big project, because we decided to extend the elevator to the basement. Musolf has a full basement so this opened up storage and workshop space and made it much more usable. With the main lobby under construction and residents still living in the building, an alternative was needed. The vacant storefront on the exact opposite side of the building provided the answer. It was directly adjacent to an exit stair, and could be easily used as a temporary lobby for staff, mail, residents, service providers and IHI's Resident Services program. Later, after the main lobby was up and running again, this temporary lobby space became IHI's new office.

Keeping our commercial tenants open during construction required some creativity at times. At Darcelle's, we utilized scaffolding to create a temporary light booth so the "show could go on". At CC Slaughters, a temporary kitchen was created with a ductless deep fryer. At Casba, the entry door was moved from place to place, week to week, so the work could continue and so could the gyros. At some points the businesses had to use bridges to get customers in the door while we demolished and replaced the entire sidewalk. Through it all, our wonderful commercial tenants kept great attitudes and worked with us every step of the way.

The project was funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, Tax Increment Financing from the Portland Development Commission, Weatherization and Housing Trust Fund grants from Oregon's Department of Housing and Community Services, and significant capital contributions by Key Community Development Corporation and Innovative Housing.

What was Innovative?
Musolf Manor benefits from having project-based rental assistance for 77 of our 95 units. This means residents pay only 30% of their actual income toward rent - if their income is zero, they pay zero. When it came time to rehab the building, IHI was faced with a dilemma: Our rental subsidy prohibited us from moving residents offsite for more than six months at a time but we had to do a very extensive renovation. The solution? IHI completed the rehab in three phases, relocating residents in groups of 30-40 at a time and breaking the construction into distinct blocks. The first phase was complicated by the fact that it included renovation of the lobby and replacement of the elevator, which meant anyone who required an elevator had to move out during this phase. IHI had a full time staff person dedicated to this relocation effort - she coordinated packing, moving, furniture storage, phone and cable installation, transportation to and from downtown, and myriad other details for a total of more than 200 individual moves.