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Woodland Square neighbor Joanna Gangle looks at drawings of the 54 apartments that will be built on the site. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald)

No heavy equipment is scheduled to be present until next week, but Monday’s ceremonial groundbreaking nevertheless was a happy event for attendees at the site of the Woodland Square Apartments at Pine Street and Salem Avenue southeast.

“This is a huge improvement for this site,” said Larry Nelson, who represented the neighborhood at the ceremony.

Monday’s event brought to an end a long wait that began when the city and Innovative Housing came together on the project in 2009. With funding from several groups, including more than $1 million from the Central Albany Revitilization Area (CARA), the $10.6 million complex will replace a dated trailer park.

According to Sarah Stevenson of Innovative Housing, the five-building project will provide affordable family-sized units ranging from one to four bedrooms.

The nonprofit builders expect the project to be completed by May 2015. Some units will be available in January, said Greg Goracke of Greenberry Construction, the lead contractor on the project.

“We’ll be clearing ground starting next week,” he said.

The developers are committed to working with local contractors, Stevenson said.

“It is important to us to put the money we spend back into the community as much as we can,” he said.

A grant from the state helped put funding over the top. Support from the city of Albany and the surrounding neighbors was instrumental in securing necessary funding for the work, Stevenson said.

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“The city has been very supportive all the way through this, and their efforts, plus the strong neighborhood support, really factored in when we applied for the state grant,” she said.

Julie Garver, the project manager, said the neighbors have been a part of the design from the outset.

“Everyone has had an impact on the design,” Garver said. “It was important to all that it had a classic and historic look to it.”

The five buildings will have 54 units and include three stories, with main-floor flats and stairways to the two-story townhouses above. Designers are ORANGEWALL Studios Architecture+Planning.

There will be an on-site manager as well as a resident service coordinator.

Stevenson said the apartments will help address a shortage of affordable family housing in Albany. She said the residents of the trailer park on the 2.2-acre site were all able to find alternate housing, and they would have first priority to the Woodland Square spaces as well.

“We have tried many ways for many years to make this project work,” Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa told the gathering. “We are so grateful to Innovative Housing. This will benefit the neighborhood and all of Albany.”

Additional key investors are Oregon Housing and Community Services, Raymond James Tax Credit Fund, JP Morgan Chase, and Network for Oregon Affordable Housing and Energy Trust.

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Steve Lathrop is the business reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6076 or by email at steve.lathrop@lee.net.

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