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Jon Bell, Portland Business Journal , KGW

A new apartment building in Northeast Portland went from foundation to its full three-story height
last week — in just two days.

Dekum 13, a 28-unit building at 1308 N.E. Dekum St., rose from the ground in such a short time
because the project employed modular construction. Rather than construct the building with a
conventional stick frame approach, local developer Northwest Ventures Group worked with Idaho’s
Guerdon Modular Buildings, which built 28 different modules for the building inside a covered
facility.

Last week, cranes hoisted each module into place, and by the end of the second day, the entire
three-story building had been assembled.

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“It came off without a hitch,” said Mark Reed, principal with NVG.

The approach, relatively new at this scale in Portland, cuts the construction timeline practically
in half compared to more conventional methods, according to Reed. He said that’s about five months
for this particular building.

“You really gain efficiencies with modular by building the same kind of units over and over,” Reed
said. “You don’t have to change the design every time, so it significantly cuts your development
cycle.”

If that conjures up images of bland boxes with no character rising from every available lot, it
shouldn’t, said Randy Duggan, business development manager for Guerdon Modular Buildings.

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“How it looks and is dressed up, that’s always an architectural function,” he said. “That’s why each
and every project is still going to have an architect of record that is in charge of a particular
look.”

Added Reed: “The exterior can be modified to fit into any neighborhood.”

In addition to saving time on construction, Reed noted that the smaller size of the units — about
375 to 475 square feet each — along with the modular approach helps keep the apartments more
affordable. NVG hasn’t set the rents yet for these units. Reed said the modular approach could help
alleviate some of the affordable housing demand in Portland.

“It’s not going to solve the whole problem,” he said, “but I really think it can be a part of the
solution.”

For a look at how the assembly of 13 Dekum went, click through the gallery above.

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