The Woodwind Apartments - How We Did It
The Nuts and Bolts

Site Control - The first step of project development is typically securing site control. IHI began negotiating the acquisition of this mobile home park in the summer of 2011. By August, we had it under contract via a purchase and sale agreement, contingent on IHI's due diligence and satisfaction with the property. This agreement also included time for IHI to apply to the City of Albany and State of Oregon for development funds. The Central Albany Revitalization Area (CARA) Advisory Board unanimously voted to award $1.45 Million of urban renewal funds in November 2011, but the State did not fund the project in 2012. We were out of time on our purchase and sale agreement, and the project was not fully funded. The City of Albany was so committed to seeing this redevelopment happen that it agreed to advance funds to purchase the property and give IHI a second chance to apply to the State. So in February, 2013 IHI closed on the acquisition, using funds provided by the City of Albany.

Environmental Remediation - To further complicate matters, IHI's due diligence turned up evidence of environmental contamination on the site. It had previously been used as a gas station and underground storage tanks were present and leaking into the soil. Before acquiring the property, IHI entered into a Prospective Purchase Agreement with the Department of Environmental Quality that set forth our proposed use, the known contaminants, and the remediation plan. IHI agreed to remove the underground tanks and remove contaminated soils. In exchange, the DEQ agreed not to hold IHI liable for contamination that occurred on the site prior to our purchase. IHI and the DEQ worked closely for many months to clean up the site and ensure that it is safe for housing.

During construction, we found another, unexpected gas tank on the property. Half of it sat below the foundation of one of our new buildings. Fortunately, because there was no evidence of leaking or soil contamination, we were able to work with the DEQ to fill the tank and leave it in place rather than removing it, which would have required quite a lot of engineering, time, and additional cost.

Funding - Affordable housing development involves piecing together many different funding sources. The Central Albany Revitalization Area (CARA) Advisory Board unanimously voted to award $1.45 Million of urban renewal funds to this redevelopment project in November, 2011. Once we had local funds committed, IHI applied to Oregon's Housing and Community Services Department, requesting an allocation of federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Oregon Affordable Housing Tax Credits, and grant funds. Unfortunately we were not awarded funding in 2012, so the City of Albany helped us secure permanent site control and we applied again in 2013. On November 4, 2013 IHI received the thrilling news that the State awarded more than $8 Million in grants and tax credits to fully fund the project! With all capital funding in place, IHI was able to move forward on design development.

Design - IHI worked with ORANGEWALLStudios Architecture + Planning to design beautiful new homes that blend into their existing neighborhood. During the design process IHI's housing development, asset management, and resident services staff work closely with our architects and contractors to solidify our programming goals, building design, and discuss building systems. Five townhouse-style buildings were arranged on the site so that front doors and porches face the streets; the interior of the block contains green space and parking. The townhomes sit atop single-level ground floor flats that are accessible for people with mobility impairments. We selected a traditional building design with Craftsman detailing that includes gable brackets and knee braces to help the new structures blend into the neighborhood and Albany's historic community.

Rendering of Woodland Square Redevelopment Rendering of Woodland Square Redevelopment - Salem street perspective
Project renderings
Community Input - As part of our development process, IHI works closely with neighbors, local businesses, and neighborhood associations to solicit their input about design and community needs. Over the course of two years, IHI conducted significant local outreach in Albany and held several meetings with community leaders, city staff, neighbors and residents. At these gatherings and in separate communications, IHI consistently heard that redevelopment of the site was a priority for neighbors, businesses, churches, and Woodland Square residents themselves. Our overall project design has been informed by input from local officials and city planning staff, neighbors, and representatives from the broader Albany community. IHI and its development team held 15 community meetings, many with translators present so that we could gather feedback in both Spanish and English.

Closing a Mobile Home Park - Because this development required the closure of a 14-unit mobile home park, IHI had to work closely with State of Oregon Mobile Home Park Closure program staff on the regulated process of closing the park. We also worked with the mobile home owners to help them find alternative housing. We coordinated with the Linn-Benton Housing Authority and Albany Partnerships, a local nonprofit housing provider that provided some housing referrals. The Housing Authority helped IHI register qualfied Woodland Square residents for its Section 8 voucher waitlist. IHI, the Housing Authority, and other community groups held meetings for residents, with translators present, to register residents for Section 8 Many of Woodland Square's residents voluntarily relocated ahead of their one-year move-out deadline and received a bonus in addition to their $5,000 state-required mobile home park closure payments. One resident even used this mobile home park closure payment to purchase a new single family home!

Construction - IHI involves its contractors early in the development process to tell us how much it will cost to build what is being designed, and also to suggest design changes that will result in a better structure and save money. IHI, Orangewall, and our general contractor GBC Construction began working together in 2011 to refine the design for this redevelopment. GBC became a great supporter of IHI and an advocate for the project, speaking on its behalf at many community meetings. GBC completed the first building in February, 2015 and the fifth and final building in June, 2015. GBC and IHI committed to using local suppliers and subcontractors for a minimum of 15% of total project costs - we are proud to announce that our final utilization rate for local contractors was 45%!

The Name - IHI held a naming contest and asked the community to participate. We received many fantastic suggestions, but the winning entry was submitted by 13-year old Dw-Wayne Hill, a student at a nearby school. The students had been watching the construction process and took a lot of interest in the development of these new apartment homes, so their class submitted many suggestions. The Woodwind Apartments emerged as the top contender because it rolls off the tongue easily and because it evokes images of nature with its combination of wood and wind (a nod to the large trees that IHI worked hard to preserve along Second Avenue). IHI is excited about using the name as a thematic starting point for future public art projects and pleased that it came from a young resident of the neighborhood, which highlights how important community participation was to the redevelopment of this site from the very beginning through to the final naming of the new apartments.