The stalled development at SE Division and 37th has been the centerpiece of a debate over apartment parking.
  • The stalled development at SE Division and 37th has been the centerpiece of a debate over apartment parking.

The era of the parking-free apartment building isn't dead yet.

Taking advantage of doomed zoning policy before its May demise, Beaverton developer Dennis Sackhoff last week applied to build a 50-unit apartment building at NE Couch and 20th Ave., the Mercury has learned. Planned on-site parking spaces for the project? Zero.

The proposal will likely reignite a debate that's flourished in the city over the last year. Sackhoff has been at the center of that controversy, with his planned 81-unit building on SE Division and 37th Ave. drawing the bulk of neighbors' ire.

But while Sackhoff was required to apprise neighbors of his plans on that project before filing for permits, the development at 1924 NE Couch requires no such communication. So has Sackhoff made residents aware of their potential new neighbors?

"Not yet, but we plan to," David Mullens, a project manager with SK Hoff Construction, tells the Mercury. "We're way early on this one. We just wanted to get in for a permit."

Representatives from the Kerns Neighborhood Association weren't immediately reachable for comment.

The timing is important, here. Earlier this month, city council approved parking minimums that critics say hamper Portland's legacy as a leader in smart growth. Those laws require parking on a sliding scale for buildings greater than 30 units, but don't go into effect until May 10. Any permit applications filed in the meantime aren't subject to the rules.

The site that would house the building is currently occupied by the Spunky Monkey House of Coffee, which will be removed if the project is approved.

"It was obviously well under way prior to the rules changing," Mullens said. "That's the last one without parking."

UPDATE, 5 p.m.: Brendon Haggerty, a co-chair of the Kerns Neighborhood Association expects news of the project will be met with dismay.

"We have (a parking-free apartment building) that's coming close to being constructed now at 30th and Burnside," Haggerty said. "That sparked quite a bit of controversy last summer and into the fall."

While Haggerty has been supportive of parking-free development, he thinks a majority of the neighborhood association's board will be concerned about the project.

But he noted: "I don't think we would have the reaction you're seeing on Division."