PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland City Council approved the transfer of a historically significant property at the intersection of Harvey Milk and 11th Streets to the public corporation Home Forward during its Jan. 18 meeting.

The conveyance of the Fairfield Apartments was authorized on the grounds that the affordable-housing provider will restore the property to meet modern living standards for the extremely low-income residents that occupy the building’s 75 permanent supportive housing units.

Interim Director of the Portland Housing Bureau Molly Rogers told city commissioners that the unreinforced masonry building, which was built in 1911, needs significant structural, electrical and plumbing improvements to meet current life, fire and safety codes. The building will also need a complete replacement of its elevator, which was shut down after 109 years of service.

“Right now [the elevator] is original from 1911 and actually is out of service as of last year,” Rogers said.

The current state of the building. (City of Portland)

The company, Rogers said, will also preserve the yellow brick building’s historic streetcar-era charm. The building also has a rich cultural history as the former residence of African American publisher Adolphus D. Griffin, who in 1896 founded the “New Age,” Oregon’s first African American newspaper. The property is also located in the “Pink Triangle,” a neighborhood that has historically been represented by Portland’s LQBTQ+ community. 

The $36.1 million project will be paid for with various public and private funds. The renovation is planned to begin in early 2023 and be completed by the spring of 2024.

The project’s funding. (City of Portland)

When complete, Rogers said that the upgraded single-room occupancy, affordable-housing units will provide more suitable living conditions for Portland’s neediest residents. Currently, 96% of the building’s units are occupied by citizens who earn less than 30% of the area-median income and 43% have no income at all. 

The building’s residents will be moved to other available affordable-housing units in Portland during the renovation and will have the option to return to the building when the construction is complete.

Commissioners Carmen Rubio, Rene Gonzalez, Mingus Mapps and Dan Ryan unanimously approved the project. Mayor Ted Wheeler was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.