Neighbors fighting planned SW Portland apartment complex

PORTLAND, Ore. - Neighbors are fighting plans to build a new apartment complex in the historic Lair Hill neighborhood of Southwest Portland.

The group is worried that the four-story, 61-unit complex could devalue nearby homes by changing the historic look and feel of the neighborhood. Some said they would move away if the complex goes up.

"It's a huge blow to these homes," said neighbor David Ley. "They're proposing to build between a 10 and 14-foot concrete retaining wall that's up to five feet thick between my house and this lot. So instead of having a view of the park and beyond, I'll have a view of a big fat wall."

The neighborhood is below the path of the tram connecting Oregon Health and Science University. Neighbors contacted KATU when they found a sign in the empty lot letting them know about the construction plans.

The complex meets zoning requirements, but neighbors say it doesn't meet historic design guidelines. Some of the homes were built in the late 1800s.

"There aren't many places this close to downtown that have the feel of an old time neighborhood," said Ley.

Jim Gardner, chairman of the South Portland Neighborhood Association Land Use Committee, says while the plans aren't perfect, the developer has been working with neighbors and has already made some design changes to meet them halfway.

"Something like this is going to eventually be on this piece of property. I personally think it's better than potentially 90 percent of what potentially might be built," said Gardner.

KATU reached out to the developer, Real Estate Investment Group, by phone, but has not heard back.

Neighbors plan to bring their concerns to a meeting with the developer and the city Historic Landmarks Commission on Monday.