City News, ECONOMY

Major developments in downtown Salem nearing completion

Several major housing developments in downtown Salem are due for completion in 2024, adding hundreds of apartments to the city’s core.

The city has seen a building boom recently, with 39 new multifamily projects with 695 total apartments permitted last year across Salem.

From July to November, city officials issued another 15 building permits for multifamily projects that would add 185 units.

Most planned downtown developments include housing, but projects are also underway to add new retail spaces.

Here’s an overview of where major developments stand.

The Rivenwood Apartments in downtown Salem near completion in December 2023. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Rivenwood Apartments

Location: 420 Center St. N.E.

Number of apartments: 157, including 10 affordable

Expected completion: Prospective tenant tours in early March 2024; opening in April 2024.

Cost: $30 million

An apartment complex is slated to open in the coming months on the site of Salem’s former Nordstrom, which was sold to Deacon Development in 2019 after the store closed in 2018.

The Nordstrom was demolished in the summer of 2022, including the skybridge connecting the building to Salem Center Mall across Northeast Center Street.

The five-story building will be all apartments, including on the ground floor, with no retail. 

The “New New Wexford,” seen here under construction in May 2023, will be a mix of retail and housing in a historic building at 455 Court St. N.E. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

New New Wexford (former Whitlock building)

Location: 455 Court St. N.E.

Number of apartments: 8, a mix of studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom

Expected completion: Unsure, waiting on electrical switchgear equipment

Cost: $2.1 million building purchase; ~$2.8 million in renovations

Plywood has covered the outside of the former vacuum and sewing store for months, but there’s work happening behind the unchanging exterior.

Developer Charles Weathers is planning a mix of retail on the ground floor and basement, including a performing arts space and combination laundromat/bar. The second floor will be apartments.

“We’ve been working hard inside. Everything is framed, plumbed, wired and the elevator shaft is done. Walls will be closed up soon and the place will really begin to take shape,” Weathers said in an email.

The project has been delayed by the building needing a new roof. Weathers said they’re currently awaiting electrical switchgear equipment and approval from Portland General Electric, issues delaying other building projects. 

“Storefront changes should be coming in a few weeks and we will be excited to take down the plywood and show off the changes to the facade,” he said.

Construction is complete on Courtney Place Veterans Housing as of July 10, 2023. (Natalie Sharp/ Salem Reporter)

Courtney Place

Location: 220 Cottage St. N.E.

Number of apartments: 34

Expected completion: Building was completed July 2023; move-in ready around March 2024

Cost: Around $10 million, including $7 million in state funding and $2 million in federal funding

The four-story building will house veterans in one and two-bedroom apartments. The development is a YMCA project to replace housing torn down in 2019 for the construction of a new fitness center.

Chuck Adams, executive director of Salem Y Veterans Housing, said they also hired a full-time executive director and are hiring two other people to provide services for residents, including communicating with the state Department of Veterans Affairs, accessing disability services and finding job opportunities.

A construction camera shows progress on Hope Plaza as of Dec. 28, 2023.

Hope Plaza

Location: 450 Church St N.E.

Number of apartments: 20

Expected completion: June 2024

Cost: $14.2 million, including $7.5 million in state lottery bonds and $2 million federal funding

An affordable housing project for domestic violence survivors has reached its full height, with a tree on top to celebrate.

The building is next to the Center for Hope and Safety offices and will provide long-term housing for survivors served by the organization.

Jayne Downing, the Center’s executive director, said the cost has risen slightly from a $13.6 million estimate earlier this year. The organization has raised 97% of the total and still hopes to open around June debt-free.

The foundation and underground infrastructure are complete and the ground floor concrete slab will be in place by the end of May, Downing said.

Lisa Anderson-Ogilvie, Salem planning administrator, stands across from the city-owned vacant lot that once housed the Union Gospel Mission and retail stores during an April 2023 tour of downtown (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Block 50

Location: The block bounded by Northeast Commercial, Chemeketa, Front and Center streets.

Officials with Salem’s urban development department are reviewing developer proposals for the block, which once housed the Union Gospel Mission, Saffron Supply Co. and several other retail businesses. 

There’s no timeline yet for a selection, city officials said this week.

The city has been purchasing lots on the block for years and opened applications in July for proposals to build. A city announcement said they wanted a vision combining affordable and market-rate housing with retail and other commercial use. More on the city’s request for the block is here.

Former Wells Fargo lot

Location: 277 High St. N.E.

Number of apartments: 98

Expected completion: Construction starting summer 2024, lasting around 18 months

Cost: $27 million

Deacon Developers plans to develop a six-story building with 98 apartments on the currently vacant parking lot. 

The old Salem City Hall was on the site until it was demolished in 1972, then the First National Bank Building was put in. Wells Fargo later took over the building before it was demolished in 2016.

The building will include studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with 29 parking spaces onsite and bike storage, as well as ground floor retail space. The building will have 16 affordable apartments.

The Salem City Council earlier this month approved a $749,000 grant toward the project from the city’s urban renewal funds.

Liberty Plaza sits largely vacant in May 2023. The building is under contract with a developer who plans to seek retail tenants. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Liberty Plaza

Location: 285 Liberty St. N.E.

Expected completion: December 2024

Cost: $8 million

Tradition Real Estate Partners, a local developer, bought the largely vacant retail building at the corner of Northeast Liberty and Chemeketa Streets this past fall and are planning to again fill it with retail and business.

The project does not include housing. A local corporate headquarters is taking the top floor, and the developers are in talks with many other tenants, according to AJ Nash, partner and principal broker. He said they are seeking food and entertainment uses.

Developers have not finalized a new name for the building but “appear to be moving forward with Forge,” Nash said in an email.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053. Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.