Jump to main content.

Smart Growth Illustrated

Belmont Dairy, Portland, Oregon

With the Belmont Dairy project, developer The Belmont Limited Partnership cleaned up and rehabilitated an abandoned dairy building to provide a variety of housing choices and retail services that led the revitalization of a neighborhood retail district in southeast Portland, Oregon.

In 1997, one half of the old Foremost Dairy building was converted into 19 market-rate loft apartments and 26,000 square feet of retail space, including a specialty grocery, a restaurant, and several shops. Attached to the dairy is a new apartment building that contains 66 units of affordable housing. Phase 2 of the project, completed in 1999 on the site of a former truck maintainance yard, contains 30 rowhouses at twice the density of conventional rowhouse developments in the city. Typical Portland rowhouse plans are long and thin and two fit, back-to-back, on a normal block with an alley in between. Belmont Dairy's three-story rowhouses have a square floor plan. The rowhouses are oriented into two C-shaped clusters around a central, landscaped courtyard. The garages are located inside the Cs and hidden from the right of way, which means that, instead of seeing a wall of garage doors, pedestrians walking by see front porches, balconies, and bay windows. Some residents of the rowhouses have taken advantage of the area's business zoning by incorporating offices on the first floor of their homes or in their garages.

Since the 30-plus units per acre overall residential density of the project is far higher than the surrounding neighborhood, the developers met early and continuously with the neighborhood association and other stakeholders. The rowhouse portion of the project was designed as a transition from the high-density development on Belmont Street to the single-family homes two blocks away. The developers' efforts to explain the benefits of the design and willingness to address community desires resulted in the project receiving strong community support during the entitlement process.

Initially, lenders for Phase 1 of the project were only willing to loan 32 percent of the project's cost rather than their usual 80 percent. As a result, the developers had to raise a mix of public and private financing, including affordable housing loans, bonds, and low-income housing tax credits.

At Belmont Dairy, compact development combined with good design creates a livable community where residents can walk to services available on Belmont Street and take a 10-minute bus ride to downtown Portland, one-and-a-half miles away.

The Belmont Dairy won the Oregon Governor's Livability Award in 1997 and an Ahwahnee Award from the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association, and the Local Government Commission in 1999. The Belmont Dairy Row Houses also received an Oregon Governor's Livability special mention award in 1999.

A grocery store occupies the first floor of the original dairy building.
A grocery store occupies the first floor of the original dairy building. Nineteen apartments are on the second floor. The new five-story building in the rear contains 66 affordable apartments.
Larger Picture
#1 Mix Land Uses Graphic: check mark
#2 Compact Building Design Graphic: star
#3 Range of Housing Choices Graphic: check mark
#4 Walkable Neighborhoods Graphic: check mark
#5 Distinctive and Attractive Places Graphic: check mark
#6 Preserve Open Spaces and Farmland -
#7 Development in Existing Communities Graphic: check mark
#8 Transportation Choices Graphic: check mark
#9 Predictable and Fair Decision Making -
#10 Community and Stakeholder Participation Graphic: check mark

Graphic: star Principle highlighted by case study
Graphic: check mark Other principles illustrated

Belmont Street
A bicyclist turns onto Belmont Street while a bus picks up passengers down the block. Downtown Portland and the Lloyd District are only short bus rides away for residents of Belmont Dairy.
Larger Picture
Belmont Dairy town homes
Belmont Dairy town homes look on to a central courtyard. An existing home can be seen across the street. At 34 units to the acre this design is nearly twice as dense as typical Portland town homes.
Larger Picture
A cyclist and child pass shops at Belmont Dairy
A cyclist and child pass shops at Belmont Dairy. Here the five-story apartment building steps down to two stories where it faces single family homes across the street.
Larger Picture

Previous case study | List of all case studies | Next case study


Smart Growth Home | Contact Us

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.