Camas OKs 12-year tax abatement on downtown mixed-use development

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A three-story mixed-use project coming to downtown Camas will receive a 12-year tax abatement thanks to the owner’s inclusion of affordable housing units.

The Camas City Council unanimously approved the tax abatement Monday during the Council’s regular meeting.

In her staff report to Council recommending approval of the tax abatement, Camas Senior Planner Sarah Fox said the 33,000-square-foot building at Northeast Sixth Avenue and Northeast Birch Street will have ground-level commercial/retail space while the upper two floors will have 30 residential units, including six units reserved for affordable housing for moderate income households.

The city’s multi-family housing tax exemption code allows eight- to 12-year tax abatements for private, multi-family developments and redevelopments in the city’s downtown district “to accommodate future population growth, provide places to live close to employment, shopping, entertainment and transit services and encourage affordable housing where appropriate.”

The definition of “affordable housing” for the city’s multi-family tax-abatement program means housing costs, including monthly utilities other than telephone costs, are 30 percent or less than the household’s monthly income.

The units need to be affordable for “moderate-income households,” which are households that earn 80 to 115 percent of the county median income, which is $87,900. Those figures will be adjusted throughout the tax-abatement period to adjust for increases or decreases in the Clark County median income.

The project applicant, Ross Kelley of Camas PDX, LLC, is the vice president of finance at WDC Properties in Northwest Portland, a company that has, according to its website, “developed and managed over 200 projects in the Pacific Northwest including retail, industrial, creative offices and multi-family residential properties.”

In his application for tax abatement, Kelley told Fox the mixed-use project will include 30 residential units with a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, 19 off-street parking spaces, with restriping on Northeast Birch Street to provide angled, on-street parking, 6,000 square feet of outdoor commons areas and a maximum height of 45 feet.

The newly constructed mixed-use building will include 4,118 square feet of retail space as well as 10 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments. The apartments will rent for $1,100 per month for one-bedroom units and $1,450 a month for two-bedroom units. There will be six units affordable for median-income households. According to Kelley, the affordable one-bedroom units will rent for about $50 less per month while the affordable two-bedroom apartments will likely rent for $75 to $100 less per month.

The $4.4 million project is expected to be completed in three years.