The Planning Board last week unanimously approved a project to overhaul the Riverton Park public housing complex, which will add 40 new housing units and a community center to a complex run by the Portland Housing Authority.
“This is good, this is needed,” said Board Chair Brandon Mazer, adding that he would like to have seen it add “twice as many” housing units.
“If you live in Portland you need to understand there is no rural Portland, there is no urban Portland,” Mazer said. “Portland is Portland, we need all types of housing across the city.”
The project would call for demolishing four existing buildings totaling 24 dwelling units, rehabbing 21 existing buildings that have 123 units, and constructing a new mixed-use building with offices, a health clinic, retail space and 59 units of housing, expanding the complex from 141 units to 182. An existing administrative building would also be demolished to make way for a community center.
The board agreed to waive requirements for the number of compact parking spaces, granite curbing and parking lot aisle width. They also conditionally approved the use of a place of assembly for the community center as well as a conditional use for inclusionary zoning.
The renovations would mark the first the public housing complex has seen since it was built in 1972. Residents of the low-income units currently must make no more than 50 percent of the area median income to qualify for housing. After renovations, 90 percent of units will be considered affordable to those making below 50 to 60 percent of the area median income, while 10 percent will be market rate, according to the Portland Press Herald.