Opening in 2015, Portland’s largest apartment project in decades may also be its greenest, fitted with systems to reuse Portland’s abundance of stormwater.

One of Portland’s least residential areas, the Lloyd District, is getting a major infusion of housing with a new development that comprises of a whopping 657 apartments in three buildings. Hassalo on 8th is currently being built by San Diego-based developers American Assets Trust, but it’s very much a Portland project at heart when it comes to sustainability measures. The $160-million project is vying for a LEED Platinum certification for New Construction as well as LEED for Neighborhood Development Platinum certification. The 21-story apartment project pushes the sustainability envelope for mixed-use development in Portland on both the urban and the building scale. Hassalo on Eighth (c) GBD Architects (2).jpg

Infusing a commercial district with housing

To date, the Lloyd District, due east from downtown Portland, has largely been a commercial district with a virtually nonexistent residential component. American Assets Trust acquired ownership interests in 14 city blocks in the Lloyd District, with 100% ownership of eight blocks and 49% ownership in the remaining six blocks. The developer hired Portland-based GBD Architects to add the missing piece to this district — housing — on an existing superblock that was composed of one office building sitting on a wide sea of parking. “The most sustainable thing you can do is provide an opportunity for people to live close to where they work,” says GBD project architect Kyle Andersen. And, by providing much-needed housing in the area, the entire district becomes activated 24 hours a day, not just during daytime work hours, which has been the case in its commercial-only days. To break the superblock into a more human-scaled development, GBD Architects quartered it into typical Portland-sized 200-foot by 200-foot blocks and added density in the form of two additional high rises and a functional landscape to what was previously just a sea of asphalt parking.

A transit-oriented, walkable ‘bikescraper’

Though the district is currently extremely auto oriented, it has remarkable transit, walkability and bikeability potential for future residents. A streetcar line and a MAX light rail line flank the development area. It is also blessed with a pedestrian-only north-south street that the architects repeated on a smaller scale when they broke the superblock up into four smaller blocks. Plus, bike lanes are already present on the block at 7th Avenue and Multnomah Street. One of the most remarkable aspects of Hassalo on 8th is the sheer amount of bike parking that will be provided to residents and even to non-residents. Coining the project a “bikescraper,” Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org even goes so far to say that this project provides more bike parking than any other housing development on the entire continent. One-thousand-two-hundred long-term bike stalls will be provided, exceeding the city requirement for bike parking in a development this size by 300. Along with parking, there will be a bike valet system. And, since there is so much bike parking available on site, it will be open to the public to use in case Portlanders from nearby neighborhoods want to park their bikes at Hassalo on 8th and take the streetcar or the MAX to another destination. Not only will there be a large quantity of bike stalls, but there will also be a variety of them, with some designed for cargo bikes with trailers and other specialty bikes.

Going beyond on-site stormwater management to on-site wastewater treatment

Hassalo on Eighth (c) GBD Architects (5).jpg A huge part of Hassalo on 8th is a constructed wetland that serves as a social gathering space and is a functional landscape that not only retains stormwater, but also captures sewage, breaks it down, cleans it with ultraviolet light and turns it into clean, nonpotable water for flushing toilets, irrigating nearby gardens and operating the central heating and cooling plant. This process not only manages wastewater on site, but it also reduces the amount of potable water that would have otherwise been used for flushing toilets, irrigation and the central plant. Excess nonpotable water will be diverted into the aquifer. And, because the project will not be contributing to the municipal wastewater burden, the developers are getting a 60% to 70% discount on the development fees they have to pay to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

Creating an eco-district

Even though the project is enormous in scale, the architects managed to create some sustainability advantages from its size by using an “eco-district” concept. The eco-district strategy uses systems more efficiently by consolidating them in a central area to serve all three buildings on site. The constructed wetland is an example of such a system, where the stormwater and wastewater from all three buildings funnels down to it. Another is a new central heating and cooling plant that sits on top of the existing building that will serve all three buildings. “The central plant on top of the existing building will be connected to the ground-level retail in the development with a condensing water loop that finds synergies between heating and cooling loads,” Andersen explains. “This system is closed. The nonpotable water is used to replenish the water for the cooling tower of the Central Utility Plant that is lost through the evaporative cooling process.” Not only was the eco-district idea used with the building systems, but it was also used on a social scale to create a sort of neighborhood feel to the development. The three buildings will be equipped with two major social spaces: the wetland and a plaza on the south side of the existing building that will be open to the public. The idea is that this plaza can accommodate events like weekend markets and evening movie screenings, and in general offer a space where residents and the public can gather. Until Hassalo on 8th, the Lloyd District has been a district that people primarily drive to. But, with this innovative new mixed-use housing development, there will be people on foot, on bikes and on transit populating the district and adding vibrancy on evenings and weekends. The intended target demographics for this development are car-free “bohemians,” young professionals and empty nesters. And, at the proposed 20% cheaper rental rates than what one can find in the city’s trendy Pearl and South Waterfront districts, this eco-conscious development should appeal to a variety of Portlanders. Hassalo on Eighth (c) GBD Architects (10).jpg Hassalo on 8th is scheduled to be completed in 2015. Rental rates have not been announced at press time.