Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed LangloisWorkers neared completion on the Macdonald Center earlier this fall.
        Catholic Sentinel photo by Ed Langlois
Workers neared completion on the Macdonald Center earlier this fall.
A new apartment building for the working poor of Portland should be complete by Thanksgiving. The seven-story structure on Northwest Sixth Avenue is an annex of the Macdonald Center, an outreach ministry and assisted living facility founded out of St. André Bessette Parish.

Crews are finishing the $11 million project on time and on budget for a Dec. 6 grand opening. Residents will start moving into the 42 apartments the week before. Officials think all the units will be occupied by then.

It was a hard time for a capital campaign, but it worked and now it's time to focus again on daily operations, says Pat Janik, executive director of the Macdonald Center.

The center evolved from a 1980s drop-in site to an assisted living center for the poor envisioned by Holy Cross Father Richard Berg, then pastor of St. André Bessette, and Mary Sue Richen, his sister. The new building aims to provide housing for people who are in a financial doughnut hole — too wealthy for most government aid but too poor to get by.

Those who rent must earn no more than 45 percent of median income. Cost starts at $450 per month, including utilities.

Macdonald Center's staff will use part of the new building's ground floor for services, including expanded money management and medication help. The old offices in the assisted living center will be used as classrooms for education and visiting ministry that takes student nurses, seminarians and others out to the many low-income residents of the neighborhood.

The general contractor, Howard S. Wright Company, had special challenges working in the tight lot, inches from other buildings and only feet from a road and the MAX line. The structure was designed by LRS Architects on the site of the former Satyricon pub and concert venue. Macdonald Center paid $1.5 million for the old building in 2010 and had it razed.