(Photo above: Duane Francis, Jim Stewart, Cyndy Cook, Jacob Hartley & Brian Casey | by CBN Staff)
48-Unit Affordable Housing Project for Seniors Named after Advocacy Icon
A 48-unit apartment complex catering to low income seniors (55+) featuring ground floor medical services and named in honor of long-term pioneering advocate for affordable housing options in the Central Oregon region, Cyndy Cook, has been unveiled in Redmond.
A gathering including staff, partners, sponsors, government representatives and community members recently celebrated the official opening of Housing Works’ $12 million Cook Crossing project, which incorporates an expanded new Mosaic Medical Redmond clinic location, on a 1.3 acre site off Veteran’s Way adjacent to the Lowe’s home improvement store.
Cyndy Cook was executive director for Housing Works (the affordable housing provider founded in 1977 as Central Oregon Regional Housing Authority) from 1983 until her retirement in 2013 and was renowned for embodying the non-profit’s mission of fostering dignity through housing.
Guest speakers included city, county and state representatives who were part of a two-year collaborative effort which brought to fruition the vision of offering occupants a supportive and service-rich environment in which to thrive, providing 36 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartment homes for senior households earning at or below 50 per cent of annual medial income.
Construction embraced Earth Advantage Platinum-level sustainability methods, with the building promising to provide an efficient, comfortable and durable home for residents for many years to come.
The complex boasts impressive views from the residential floors, while the ground floor consists of a separate residential lobby with elevator, community office, spacious common room for events, and a flex space for use by service providers – including Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), Hospice of Redmond and Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Services – as well as being home to Mosaic’s new 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art primary care clinic.
The clinic’s central location is more accessible to bus routes and over double the size of the previous facility, which was located off Larch Avenue, to cater to rising demand, with more exam rooms and for the first time additionally offering dental services, opening mid-September.
Cook Crossing was designed by BLRB Architects and built by R&H Construction and will be managed by EPIC Property Management LLC.
Residents will be eligible for free bus passes on the local Cascade East Transit System, and the property will promote a partnership with Lynch Elementary and Obsidian Middle School through a program called Crossing Connections which will allow residents to connect with youth through a number of interactive programs.
Rental rates have risen sharply throughout Central Oregon in recent history and the affordable housing crisis has been particularly harsh on local seniors, most of who are on modest fixed incomes.
The construction of Cook Crossing is seen as one piece of the solution to the dire issue facing communities in the region, and the project was fully subscribed within days of taking applications.
Current Housing Works Executive Director Tom Kemper said, “I am continually struck by how many contributors it takes to come together to do something like this, including funders, City, County and State agencies and equity partners.
“I must complement BLRB and R&H Construction on the amazing job they did, and even Lowe’s played a material part including letting us park during construction and providing an easement for service parking.”
On the naming of the building in honor of Cook, whose place he took in 2013, Kemper added, “Her success was reflected in her commitment and passion for fostering dignity through housing, and Housing Works experienced extraordinary growth during her tenure.
“Beginning with a mere 48 units of affordable rental housing, Housing Works grew to become the largest affordable housing provider in Central Oregon.”
Redmond Mayor George Endicott said that providing affordable housing was a critical component of the community, especially in light of rental vacancy rates hovering under one per cent, and the city was able to play a key role including providing subsidies such as Systems Development Charge (SDC) credits and expediting necessary land use changes.
Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney added, “Housing is foundational to a community and quality of life revolves around having support systems and the ability to stay in the community.
“It is appropriate that this project is named after Cyndy Cook, who leads with her heart and taught me never to take no for an answer when pursuing worthy goals such as providing safe and secure housing for children and adults.
“Many seniors have dedicated their time and careers to this community and Cook Crossing is a testament to them being valued and cared about.”
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Public Affairs Assistant Director Kenny LaPoint said the State had demonstrated its commitment to the aim of giving all Oregonians the opportunity to live in dignity by contributing $2.1 million in financial resources for the project to help allow seniors to “age in place”.
He said recent studies indicated greater access to housing and services including healthcare provided effective health cost savings through preventative care and helped Oregonians live a more productive and healthy life, adding that Cook “changed the way services are provided and challenged those across the state that dignity should lead service”.
Critical partner Wells Fargo & Co. provided about 75 percent of the financing needed for the $12 million project.
Senior Vice President Nelda Newton from Wells Fargo’s Community Lending & Investment team was among the speakers at the opening celebration, and told the crowd that last year in Oregon alone, Wells Fargo provided over $150 million to create or preserve more than 2,000 affordable apartments and spaces in mobile home communities.
“Wells Fargo is very committed to providing affordable housing. It’s important to us,” she said.
Newton explained how Wells Fargo purchases tax credits that nonprofits use to help finance such developments. Competition for such tax credits is fierce across the state and she paid tribute to Kemper and his group for their projects’ relative successful track record in winning approvals.
Last year Wells Fargo bought more than $2 billion in tax credits nationally to support affordable housing.
Housing Works Board of Commissioners Chair and Neighborhood Impact Lending Director Michael Hinton added, “We all know this last winter was rough, so it is even more remarkable that R&H did such incredible work and was able to deliver a great project on time and on budget!
“Cyndy Cook’s real mission and vision she developed from 30-plus years ago was about fostering dignity and she was determined to do things right in terms of not just buildings, but in building communities. As part of the bar she set, she would always ask ‘is this a community your mother would be proud to live in?’.”
Cook, who was an honored guest at the grand opening, recollected that the first project under her watch was leased within six weeks as the first tax credit-led development in Central Oregon. She added: “I am most proud of putting together people with the same passion.
“Advocacy begins with understanding and commitment, and without the powerful voices of community members coming together, projects like this would not become reality. Advocates’ support of the work is the biggest gift.
“A lot of people come together with Housing Works and become very innovative in how to meet critical needs. I believe cities and communities are only as good as the housing provided.”
Cook Crossing Housing
1250 SW Veterans Way, Redmond, OR 97756
Property Owner/Developer: Housing Works
Managed By EPIC Property Management LLC.
Service providers include Mosaic Medical, Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), Redmond School District, Cascade East Transit and many others.
Contractor: R&H Construction
Project Cost: $12 Million
Financing: Wells Fargo & Co. 75 percent
Full Project Team:
Project Manager – Jacob Hartley
Superintendent – Jim Stewart
Foreman – Brian Casey
Preconstruction – Duane Francis
Project Engineer – Ben Oliver
Project Assistant – Rhiannon Safford
Carpenters – Craig Heisinger, Chris Mills, Zach King, Micah King, Steve Cameron
Architect: BLRB Architects
Principal Architect: BLRB Team – Jim Landin, Colleen Smith, Scott Winters
Civil Engineer – Hickman, Williams & Associates, Grant Hardgrave
Structural Engineer – Ashley & Vance Engineering, John Fischer
Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer – ColeBreit Engineering, Laura Cole
Electrical Engineer – Bend Electric, Maura Hammock
Landscape Architect – Kristen Georgeton Landscape, Kristen Georgeton
Subcontractors and Suppliers: 97 Painting, A&E Masonry, Alpine Glass Co., Baxter Builders, Bell Hardware, Bend Electric, Bend Plumbing & Heating, Carlson Sign,
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