Mahonia Crossing brings 300+ units of affordable, intergenerational housing to Salem’s South Gateway neighborhood

The new “Community For All Ages” features on-site programming and abundant green space to help families and seniors thrive and connect across generations

SALEM, Ore., March 23, 2023 — Mahonia Crossing, a new 15-acre affordable housing community with an uncommon intergenerational focus, is designed in every aspect to serve and connect families, seniors and surrounding neighborhoods, while boosting the region’s affordable housing supply amid a historic shortage.

Opening in south Salem in stages starting in November, Mahonia Crossing will provide 313 units for residents who earn 30-80% of the area median income (in Marion County, that’s $23,730 to $63,280 for a family of four).

The development received $25.2 million in Wildfire Direct LIFT funds from the state of Oregon as well as state Agricultural Worker Housing Tax Credits designed to create housing for agricultural workers. A portion of Mahonia Crossing units will be prioritized for people who lost homes during Oregon wildfires and for agricultural workers and their families.

Local leaders celebrated at a groundbreaking event today hosted by Mahonia Crossing owner/developer Community Development Partners (CDP), a mission-driven affordable housing developer that also preserved and renovated Fairhaven Gardens in northeast Salem. Mahonia Crossing will offer 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom apartments for both seniors and families with children; a community building and shared outdoor spaces; and on-site programming hosted by EngAGE Northwest — all intentionally designed to bring multiple generations together.

“As a CDP Community For All Ages, this will be a space where people in all stages of life are respected, cared for, and provided tools to grow, explore and create,” said Eric Paine, CEO of CDP. “There’s such incredible value in the wisdom that we gain through life experiences. Seniors who will live here will bring that with them. We want them to feel energized and valued based on the knowledge and life experience they can share with younger adults and children, who will be equally enriched by those relationships.”

“The physical and intellectual amenities at Mahonia Crossing will be designed to maximize interaction across three and four generations of neighbors,” said Tim Carpenter, CEO of EngAGE Northwest. “We feel that Salem, and this area especially, is a perfect place for the Community For All Ages model, and the ingrained love that people here have for their community will allow us to establish strong partnerships to achieve our goals.”

Located south of the intersection of Kuebler Blvd and Battle Creek Road, Mahonia Crossing is among the final pieces of local planner/developer John Miller’s master-plan vision for the Woodscape community in south Salem. Today that land which John has stewarded through an intentional development process comprises neighborhoods of single-family and multi-family homes, Pringle Elementary School, parks, wetlands, and other natural spaces.

Miller sold the Mahonia Crossing site to CDP. The community is named after Miller’s development company, Wildwood/Mahonia, and his nearby Mahonia Vineyards and Nursery. (Mahonia is also a genus of Oregon’s state flower, the Oregon grape.)

“I had saved this site for senior and/or affordable housing but realized that I did not have the expertise, resources, or time to do the site justice, so I began to search for someone who did. I finally found Eric Paine and CDP, who are a great match with their community values, proven abilities, and environmental stewardship, all woven into a great design approach,” Miller said.

A different approach to help ease Salem’s housing shortage

Salem is experiencing the same housing shortage that afflicts most of Oregon, and low-income families and individuals are the least likely to find housing they can afford. Mahonia Crossing will help ease the shortage with an uncommon approach to affordable housing that’s based on the idea that people of all ages thrive best together rather than apart. Children and younger adults can learn and receive support from elders, for example, while seniors benefit from social connections that help them age well and in place.

At Mahonia Crossing, this approach will come to life in two key ways — the design of the physical campus and the intergenerational learning, wellness and creativity programs hosted on-site by EngAGE Northwest, which may include after school clubs, outdoor education, and exercise and cooking classes, among other offerings.

Unlike much multi-family housing that consists of residential buildings distributed amid parking lots with little to no attention to green space, parking at Mahonia Crossing will be pushed to the perimeter. Residential buildings will be connected by tree-lined paths and arranged around a series of shared outdoor spaces, including a garden, outdoor plaza with amphitheater seating, park, open field, and picnic and BBQ areas.

A senior building is deliberately sited at the heart of the development, with an elevator and apartments designed for older adults, plus a fitness center open to all residents. Nearby, a large community center will bring all residents together in gathering spaces, a movie/game room, library, computer stations, and a demonstration kitchen for events and classes.

Community-informed design that preserves trees and green space

Before design or construction began, CDP engaged the Center for Public Interest Design (CPID) at Portland State University to conduct a thorough survey of assets and challenges in the surrounding area. This included many meetings with Salem community members and organizations, whose input shaped the design of buildings, other spaces, and on-site programming. Access to green space ranked among the top priorities for neighbors who had previously used the site to walk their dogs, watch wildlife and bring their kids to run around.

CDP took those desires into account, designing the site as much as possible around older native Oregon white oaks so they did not have to be removed. Some younger trees were removed and are being stored at Mahonia Nursery until they can be replanted on the site. Tree-lined paths and park-like areas will be placed throughout the community to provide generous green space for residents and neighbors. The entire development is designed to Earth Advantage Platinum standards. Also, the community building uses cross-laminated timber, with plans for a rooftop solar array, and is aiming to achieve Energy Trust of Oregon’s Path to Net Zero Certification.

Funding and development team

For Phase I (184 units) of Mahonia Crossing, funding includes a 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocation with equity investment by R4 Capital; Local Innovation Fast Track (LIFT) funds, Market Cost Offset Funds (MCOF-GHAP), Agricultural Workforce Housing Tax Credits (AWHTC), and Tax-Exempt bonds from Oregon Housing and Community Services; a HOME grant from the City of Salem; 56 project-based section 8 vouchers awarded by the Salem Housing Authority; and an Energy Trust of Oregon grant. Construction financing is being provided by Umpqua Bank and permanent financing is being provided by Citi.

For Phase II (129 units), funding includes recycled bonds from another CDP development, Rockwood Village in Gresham. While bond recycling is common in other states, it was a first for Oregon and allowed the state’s bonds to go further toward addressing Oregon’s deep need for affordable housing. Phase II also received $25.2 million in state Wildfire Direct LIFT funds. Construction and permanent loans were provided by CitiBank.

Community Development Partners is owner/developer of Mahonia Crossing. It was designed by Scott Edwards Architecture and PLACE and is being built by Gerding Builders. Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design conducted the pre-development community engagement and outreach based on Asset Based Community Development principles. Resident services will be provided by EngAGE Northwest and property management by Guardian.


About Community Development Partners

Founded in 2011, Community Development Partners develops and operates sustainable, life-enhancing affordable housing with a focus on long term community engagement and innovative design. As a mission-driven, forward-thinking organization, CDP is focused exclusively on creating vibrant affordable housing communities that incorporate art, public parks, gardens, fresh food, and cultural and social programming. Today, CDP has successfully built or preserved 44 unique projects comprising over 3,500 units throughout Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona.

About EngAGE Northwest

EngAGE Northwest takes a whole-person approach to creative, healthy living by providing arts, wellness, lifelong learning, community building, and intergenerational programs to residents in affordable housing communities. Programs are provided on-site at each of our communities and are open to all residents at no charge. This reduces the primary barriers to engagement – cost and transportation – and maximizes our impact.

EngAGE Northwest was founded in 2016 after community members and local developers sought to bring the award-winning resident services model created by EngAGE, Inc. to the Pacific Northwest. EngAGE, Inc., founded in 1999, is consistently recognized as a leader in the arts, intergenerational programs, and for its community building work and now serves more than 6,000 residents of all ages in California and Oregon.