The Presbyterian Community Care Center, closed several years ago, is scheduled to get a major makeover beginning in June but the non-profit spearheading the project needs sub-contractors. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

ONTARIO – A project to transform Presbyterian Community Care Center into 56 affordable rental units is still on track to begin this summer.

The $16 million project, spearheaded by Northwest Housing Alternatives, is slated to kick off in June, said Clayton Crowhurst, the housing developer for the organization.

Crowhurst said LMC Construction, a Portland-area firm, will be the general contractor.

Crowhurst said the emphasis now is to recruit local sub-contractors.

“I’d like as much money as possible to stay in the county or the region,” said Crowhurst.

Outside contractors typically cost more because of drive time and living costs, said Crowhurst.

“I am really wanting local subs for my own selfish reasons but there is also a ton of capital just in construction,” said Crowhurst.

Crowhurst said the project will provide homes for people “that are making a little over half of the median income in Malheur County and below.”

According to 2019 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income in Malheur County stood at $21,888.

Northwest Housing will use a mix of state and federal grants and tax credits to fund the project.

Crowhurst said his organization bought the care center – a local staple for more than 60 years on North Oregon Street – in 2018. The center closed in 2017.

Crowhurst said earlier that Northwest Housing paid about $500,000 for the center.

Plans call for the construction to be complete by the summer of 2022.

One new challenge for the project, said Crowhurst, is the sudden boost in construction costs.

“I’ve had about a $1.5 million construction cost increase hit in early March. It was really sort of a shock to everybody,” said Crowhurst.

Crowhurst said he does not believe the cost escalation will adversely affect the project, but said it does create new challenges. That is why, he said, he wants to talk to as many local contractors as possible before the first nail is hammered.

Crowhurst said a combination of factors, including a six-day closure of the Suez Canal when a 200,000-ton container ship became lodged in the waterway, are driving up costs.

Crowhurst also said Oregon wildfires last year took “a big bite out of lumber production.”

“Over the winter we had a big ice storm in western Oregon and that impacted a lot of suppliers. The latest increases in plumbing and electrical are because of the Suez Canal incident,” said Crowhurst.

Crowhurst said about 25 to 30 sub-contractors work on a project like the Presbyterian Community Care Center development.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Coalition of non-profits investing more than $37 million in Malheur County affordable apartments

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