Canal Commons Fills Workforce Housing Niche


(Canal Commons, North Building exterior | Photo Courtesy of Pacific Crest Affordable Housing)

48-Unit Apartment Community is Pacific Crest’s Fourth Affordable Project in Bend

A contemporary-style $10.7 million 48-unit affordable housing project recently completed in Bend is already fully subscribed, with the wheels set in motion for a second phase of similar scale illustrating the continuing high demand and pressing need for such workforce accommodation in the community.

Canal Commons, off Butler Market Road close to Pine Nursery Park, features a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments available to residents earning 30-53 percent of the area’s median income, with utilities included. This currently equates to rents in the $430-$1,089 range, based on latest available U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data.

The apartment community covering two 24-unit buildings and designed by Bend-based GL3 Architects, features a high degree of sustainability and energy efficiency and is developer Pacific Crest Affordable Housing’s fourth such project in Bend, and seventh in Central Oregon overall, including senior living facilities such as Discovery Park Lodge in NorthWest Crossing.

Pacific Crest acquired the original five-acre site for the Canal Commons development from the City of Bend some six years ago after its proposal for the parcel won out over two other submitted designs following review by the council’s Affordable Housing Committee.

Pacific Crest co-owner John Gilbert said, “We are pleased with the level of commitment our partners, including the City of Bend, have shown in supporting the creation of more affordable housing, which we continue to build under our core principles of sustainability, livability, health and wellness, and of course, affordability.

“The State of Oregon and the City of Bend continue to have a shortage of affordable housing, and we are working diligently to provide more housing opportunities to our community.

“We believe that everyone deserves not just a place to live, but a comfortable, secure and affordable place to live.”

Canal Commons is located in Bend’s northeast quadrant and features prime Cascade Mountain views, an adjacent canal and close proximity to BPRD’s 127-acre Pine Nursery public park, as well as easy access to schools, and various shops and services.

The project combines highly energy efficient design and construction and includes a commons building with a community room, raised bed gardens, play field and communal building with kitchen and social areas.

Sustainable practices implemented throughout include energy-efficient staggered-stud exterior walls, high-efficiency air source heating/cooling, Energy Recovery Ventilation for all units, solar-generated electricity and solar-heated water (covering some 70 percent of overall water heating costs) triple-pane equivalent windows, dual-flush toilets and drought-tolerant landscaping. 

Pacific Crest Affordable Housing co-owner Rob Roy added, “Not only are we producing high-quality affordable housing, but we are also utilizing as many sustainable building practices as we can incorporate into the project.

“In affordable housing ventures like this, with restricted rents, operating costs can increase more than rents are able to, so a major motivation is to cover each energy-efficient base — including being creative in identifying every such source and incentive — as a hedge against rising utility costs for the long term.

“Of course, this is important in the affordable housing sector, to be able to pass on cost savings, but it also goes back to the fundamentals that it is just good design practice and this project, like our other buildings, will stand the test of time.

“It is also important to us to provide housing that our residents can be proud of and feel that they are part of a larger effort creating a positive impact on their surroundings.”

GL3 Architects Principal Jim Landin said, “We have done several projects in the affordable housing sector with Pacific Crest in Central Oregon and each is unique in its own way and utilizes a different model.

“This one in is geared toward the workforce category and designed in a more contemporary style, built as three-story walk-ups with entry from exterior stairways, which families, in particular, prefer versus the elevator with interior hallways model.

“The timeline from identifying a site to completion of a project in cases such as this can be five-six years, and with Bend’s population predicted to increase 20,000 by 2030 there is a continuing need to look for new opportunities in this area. 

“This critical need has been amplified in light of Bend’s median housing price now hovering around $600,000, with rising construction costs compounded by effects of the pandemic, and residential market rents skyrocketing

“The first phase of Canal Commons was fully rented before completion, with a waiting list, and we have already submitted for Phase 2 on the site’s remaining three acres.”

About Pacific Crest Affordable Housing

Pacific Crest Affordable Housing (PCAH) is an award-winning, Bend-based developer of affordable housing, which has been serving Central Oregon since 2005. PCAH has now built seven high-quality affordable housing projects in Central Oregon. PCAH is guided by a mission to provide high-quality, comfortable and stable housing which their low-income residents are proud to call home, and to contribute to the advancement of sustainable building in affordable housing development. PCAH has found a niche in creating successful public-private partnerships, utilizing multiple public and private funding sources, building high-quality housing which is indistinguishable from market-rate housing and pushing the envelope in sustainable building, all while maintaining some of the lowest rents in Oregon.


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Simon Mather — CBN Feature Writer

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