Tigard, Ore.What the developer calls “one of the region’s most elegant syntheses of community development and nature” was just completed in this fast-growing suburb of Portland.

The Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) held the grand opening of its 32-unit, 3.1-acre Oleson Woods in November. The Northwest-style steep-gabled buildings are grouped around common open areas, and there is a nature trail, basketball court and playground.

The site design helps preserve wildlife habitat by conserving mature tree canopies throughout the development. A seasonal wetland at the center of the property has been preserved and enlarged. Storm water runoff is naturally filtered in a water-quality facility landscaped with native plantings. All of these features provide opportunities for special education programs featuring exploration and ecology, according to CPAH.

“This is the first time we’ve ever developed on a site that had rich environmental resources like a nature habitat and wetlands,” said Executive Director Sheila Greenlaw-Fink. “Many affordable housing developers focus on dense infill. This is ... a good model for smart growth. It’s a step toward ‘greenerism.’”

The apartments serve tenants earning at or below 50% of the area median income (AMI), with six units set aside for those earning between 30% and 40% of AMI. These one-, three- and four-bedroom units range in size from 615 square feet to 1,340 square feet. Specific green-building elements include whole-house ventilation systems, superior insulation, natural lighting, fluorescent lighting fixtures and Energy Star appliances.

All 24 ground-floor units are visitable by persons with disabilities, including three that are fully accessible. A community center houses after-school and adult programs, and has computer stations with high-speed Internet access.

Financing included $2.9 million in low-income housing tax credit equity from Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., a $1.4 million loan from the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH), and a $700,000 HOME loan from Washington County.

The project also received a $32,721 grant from Enterprise’s Green Communities smart-growth and energy-conservation program. In addition to its green-building features, Oleson Woods is near mass transit and the Washington Square Regional Center and Washington Square shopping center, which provide thousands of jobs.

“It’s an excellent place for affordable housing,” said Greenlaw-Fink. “It’s in a suburban location with a lot of workers who commute out to the area. This reflects our smart growth goals.”n

The Oleson Woods Apartments development has green-building features and protects the

natural beauty of its 3.1-acre wetland habitat. The design is by Carleton Hart Architecture.