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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 20, 2012 8:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was Mayor Creepy: Outer Powell is the next Pearl District. The next post in this blog is Fox news. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More on the Portland Christo Building

Our post of yesterday about the shrink-wrapped, abandoned apartment building at I-205 and Woodstock -- in whose current plight the City of Portland has played a major hand -- drew a couple of fascinating responses. One comes from a neighborhood activist in Lents, who writes:

I'm kind of at wit's end with PDC. Their contract management skills are nonexistent; they don't have any capacity to recruit new business to East Portland, and when you ask them to do so they say it's not their job.

With the Christo building, two years ago they helped the new owner -- who has a pretty good track record -- get some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in city fines stuck to the property waived. The owner still had to reimburse the city for relocating its prior tenants (with the prior owner bankrupt, the taxpayers had to pay for relocation from the not-up-to-code building). Nobody has answers on what's going on with the building. PDC doesn't know. The owner hasn't returned calls. And so it just sits there.

Right up the street, a storefront improvement project to rip the siding off of one of our only retail spots -- four pads, two available -- is now six months old, and three months behind schedule. Did the PDC include any penalties for late construction, or incentives for early completion? Nope. The project gets done when it gets done.

Three buildings in the town center are to be demolished this summer. It's starting to feel like Lower Albina.

Meanwhile, the PDC is happily jumping on the bandwagon of the Foster-Powell area, which they cherry-stemmed into the urban renewal area a few years back and is starting to take off. I would suggest the most likely scenario is they dump cash into the Foster corridor west of 82nd, see it start to look like Alberta or Mississippi, and claim success -- even though the market is already driving the renaissance without their help. To our east, the fine folks in Powellhurst-Gilbert are seeing no benefit from urban renewal, which sucks for Lents, because people east of the river have a tendency to only shop west of where they live. A growing Foster-Powell doesn't help us. A healthy 122nd Avenue corridor does.

Another reader writes to invite us to revisit the owner the Woodstock property: It's a company called Woodstock Crossing, LLC. We've previously tied the property to developer David Emami, and it turns out that the registered agent for the LLC is his wife, Diana Emami, at the same residential address in West Linn as David. As the reader points out, Diana is a member of the state real estate board. "The members are all appointed by the governor," writes the reader. "I guess when you have friends in high places, you can be allowed to keep a huge building (which you bought for pennies on the dollar) shrink-wrapped for two years, contributing to blight in a neighborhood."

Guess so.

Comments (9)

And exactly what does the State Real Estate Board do?

Apparently not much.

In the past 25 years (!), there have been only two news stories about the board. In 1988, the Oregonian reported that Gov. Goldschmidt appointed three new members. In 2006, the Statesman-Journal reported on some proposed reforms.

Oh, by the way ... the agency has 30 employees!

Can't we at least put a bow on it?

"Three buildings in the town center are to be demolished this summer."

I wonder how long those lots will sit vacant? Decades?

Re: Foster-Powell, the PDC does this thing with areas that are already revitalizing on their own. If they cherry-stem them into an urban renewal district, the PDC gets the new tax revenue from the new development. And then they take credit for all the good things happening there, even though the private market is really driving it.

According to portlandmaps.com, this property's 2011 tax assessment is less than half what it was in 2008:

2011: $7,905.85
2010: $16,694.96
2009: $18,243.63
2008: $18,922.55

"Re: Foster-Powell, the PDC does this thing with areas that are already revitalizing on their own. If they cherry-stem them into an urban renewal district, the PDC gets the new tax revenue from the new development. And then they take credit for all the good things happening there, even though the private market is really driving it."

Interesting comment. A good solution might be for the legislature to modify the urban renewal laws to define "blight" as the areas within cities that have experienced the greatest decline in assessed real market values over the past x years, excepting tax-exempt properties. That would help curb manipulative practices like this, and would otherwise constrain local governments to focus only on what most people consider real blight. It would also help create a stronger tax-base within each new district, which would make it more likely that issued bonds would be retired quickly.

Miss Lithuania is very pretty.

Clearly, a woman of such beauty wouldn't be involved in anything untoward.

Sal, there should definitely be major reform to the urban renewal laws at the State level:

- redefinition of "blight" to actually mean blight
- mandatory expiration of districts after 20 years, with no extension option
- the current limits on the amount that a city's land area and taxable value that can be sequestered in UR areas should be lowered by about half
- schools should be exempt and continue to collect new tax increment within UR areas

http://www.multcoproptax.org/prop2sum.asp?PropertyID=R288292

There are two property tax records: neither show any property taxes paid on this address in a decade.

Wish I could have gotten away with that.

Or just shut down UR completely. As long as there's money sloshing around to be taken, someone will take the time and effort to collect it.


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