Plans to build a 66-unit apartment complex that would blend workforce housing with vacation rentals passed muster in front of the Astoria Design Review Committee on Thursday.
The committee approved a proposal by developer Walt Postlewait to build the Northpost Apartments on property between 31st and 32nd streets, near Safeway and the Astoria Riverwalk.
The project still needs to pass the Historic Landmarks Commission at a hearing on Tuesday.
“This is a long-term investment into this community,” Postlewait told the committee. He designed the project with the city’s housing needs in mind, with the goal of providing housing for workers who make $15 to $18 an hour.
“That was the seed for this,” he said. “The seed was not, ‘Oh, let’s find something to make a lot of money on.’”
Postlewait, who works as the executive vice president for the nonprofit lender Craft3, has said he plans to offer 32 apartments at the complex for long-term rental slightly below market rate. The 34 remaining units would be used as short-term rentals and help keep prices for the long-term units low.
For the past few years, city leaders have discussed the need for affordable and workforce housing, but have struggled with how to create or incentivize development.
City planning staff recommended approval of Postlewait’s Northpost Apartments with a standard list of conditions, including items like the need to submit landscaping and lighting plans.
Both the uses — multifamily dwelling and vacation lodging — are allowed outright on the property.
The only person to provide testimony at the public hearing Thursday besides Postlewait and project manager Randy Stemper was Gai Williams, who owns property to the north next to the Columbia River.
“I must say I’m thrilled about it,” she told the committee.
She has had trouble selling her property because of the run-down appearance of the land Postlewait is purchasing for the Northpost Apartments.
She hopes he can also do something about the property immediately next door to her, an empty lot covered in blackberry bushes that has long been home to feral cats and where she has seen evidence of drug use and homeless camps.