The empty lot on Kale Street Northeast where a 324-unit apartment complex has been proposed. (Troy Brynelson/Salem Reporter)

Even more housing could soon rise along Kale Street in northeast Salem. This time, developers propose 324 apartments.

Northstar Communities, a development firm that has been turning nearly 150 acres of farmland into new homes, recently filed paperwork with the city of Salem revealing plans to build a complex with more than 20 apartment buildings.

Eric Meurer, Northstar’s co-owner, said it’s still “too early” to talk about the project at 4485 Kale St. N.E. A pre-application to the city doesn’t trigger construction, but Meurer’s certain the apartments will get built.

“It will come to fruition,” he said. “I think there’s a high level of assumption for that.”

No information was available on the rent for the units. Filings show plans for studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The site would also have a swimming pool and recreation areas. More than 600 parking spaces are planned.

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The apartments would be part of the next phase of Northstar’s years-long effort to develop the former farm.

Alongside Clackamas-based I&E Construction, Northstar has been cutting the land into parcels, then selling those to home builders who ultimately sell to homeowners.

Those plans have been watched by the state Department of Environmental Quality. Row crops like green beans and cauliflower once grew there, and farm work has left the soils contaminated with high levels of the pesticide dieldrin.

According to the state agency, contaminated soils on several areas of the site have been hauled away. Many homes have already been built on areas of the farmland that have been deemed clean the agency.

Meurer said apartments make sense because there’s a need for more rental housing.

“The population continues to grow, so new housing really needs to be built,” he said. “In this particular part of town, there aren’t many projects in a reasonable distance and there aren’t any new ones going up.”

If built, the project would be the biggest splash of multifamily units in Salem in quite some time. According to figures provided by the Home Builders Association of Marion and Polk Counties, Salem saw the addition of more than 300 units of multifamily in 2018. So far this year, 314.

“There’s definitely that kind of demand for multifamily units. Single-family homes are getting more expensive and so that makes it a challenge for folks to afford them,” said Mike Erdmann, CEO of the home builders association. “So that multifamily fills a very important need.”

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, [email protected] or @TroyWB.