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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coming soon to SoWhat District: Would you believe an immigration jail?

An alert reader writes:

Here is a juicy tidbit about the SoWhat District I thought I would pass along. I have a friend who works over at GBD Architecture in the Pearl. S/he tells me that the firm is designing an immigration jail for ICE (the renamed INS) to be housed at 4310 SW Macadam. The building is right by the Old Spaghetti Factory and a bank of new condos. Obviously the city is trying to keep it on the down-low and ram it through without all the new or prospective condo homeowners learning about the prison.

The prison is supposedly going to be like the overcrowded NW Detention Center in Tacoma. I did some checking and it looks like the people who are housed in these jails are mainly convicted criminals from the state system (felons like drug traffickers, rapists, and other violent crimes) along with the unlucky individuals who get picked up in immigration sweeps. They sit in the jail until an immigration judge decides their fate. That can’t be good for local business or individual property values. I guess the city is more concerned about collecting revenue from the federal government than they are about the image of the SoWhat.

Looking at the permits on Portland Maps it seems like there is a flurry of activity on the building since June. I can only imagine they are trying to get the process far enough along that the SoWhat homeowners associations can’t stop it. I thought our progressive city wouldn’t accept an immigration prison but I guess I was wrong. The city was so quick to jump on the boycott Arizona with their self-righteous resolution condemning the law. Hey, maybe renaming NE 39th Cesar Chavez Blvd. was to make up for the fact they knew they were conspiring against migrants in secret. I wonder if they are going to transport prisoners by light rail? Go by streetcar!

Drove by today, and the Public Notice sign is up in front of the building. They are moving quick.

UPDATE, 8/6, 2:08 p.m.: KGW follows up on the story. Apparently, there are only going to be "holding cells," in which inmates (how many has not been disclosed) will be kept no more than 12 hours. Once the thing is built, of course, that practice could change.

Comments (61)

Good cash flow for Randy's Bureau Development Services. Maybe he can re-hire the all the people he transferred to the Water Bureau last fall.

Keep voting for those incombents. Cesar would be so proud.

It appears that this was reported -- sort of -- in July, here (2:00 Friday afternoon, Fourth of July weekend). No mention of any jail, although two fences and a guard shack seem a little extreme for the run-of-the-mill "office building expansion" story that was being peddled. It's a Lindquist Development deal.

If the feds need a detention center, why aren't they taking over Wapato Jail?

Once upon a time there was a development plan that reduced the height of new structures the closer they were to the river. Then came Vera and her boys.

We wind up with office towers virtually on the shore and now a Michal Gravesesque penal colony. Obviously a much better use of that riverfront land than some nasty ol' man-u-facturing concern that employed white and blue collar workers.

I'm gettin' kinda' old: Will I live long enough to see The New Oregon Journal building and Harbor Drive return?

What, no room out by the airport? Or outside the city limits?

Hard to believe that the SoWa district is seriously being considered for this type of facility.

And don't forget, it is soooooo easy to get into this area from all parts of the Metro area.

Tram Adams says if the facility does cavity searches and urine tests, then employees count as biotech jobs. We'll be at 10,000 in no time.

And as a government building, it won't contribute anything to the urban renewal district, or general property taxes in the long run.

Go by bankrupt streetcar!

Hey! Finally! Low-income housing in SoWhat!

I like the line in the July story you referenced (comment no. 2), in which the architect explained that SW Moody Street, which runs next to the building, will eventually be raised 12 feet, so that the ground floor of this building next to Moody Street will eventually be underground, but the designers still have to meet the street-level design requirements (windows, etc.) for the Moody Street frontage anyway. His quotation: "How do you incorporate the street-level requirements to the initial design when the site will eventually be a basement?"

Who needs "Escape From Alcatraz" when we have this?

Coming Attractions: "Escape from Portland" --

Watch the non-stop action and tremble with hair-raising suspense, as Goretexed vigilante search parties venture beyond the urban growth boundary trying recapture common sense in their pursuit of happiness.

Perfect! Cheap landscaping labor for the So-What condo-turned-apartment slum lords. I wonder if chain-gang songs translate easily in Spanish.

Funny how Portland has all these failed urban renewal districts and the solutions are always to load 'em up with government buildings. PSU, Convention Center, "Sustainability Centers", the OHSU tower...and now an immigration jail, when we have a perfectly suitable facility up in Rivergate.

If we really need a new facility, why not use some of the vacant PDX property and do what Oklahoma City has - a prison with jetway access so that the illegals can board a plane without touching the ground, and be whisked off in unmarked MD-80s to Mexico City - far away from the border instead of the two day bus ride to Tijuana that they get now?

And let's not forget...these folks will have to go to court hearings...how are they getting there? Dedicated, secure Streetcar vehicles?

Shame on you Sam Adams and City of Portland. Hypocrites!

If the feds need a detention center, why aren't they taking over Wapato Jail?

For the same reason the wonderful War on Drugs we have been winning for the past several decades won't end any time soon. Lucrative construction contracts, and the construction industry lobby. Huge growth industry, prison construction, #1 or near #1 in the nation many years running now. Huge money in urine testing facilities. Huge money in staffing the prisons. Money to be made driving the prisoners back and forth. Money to be made feeding and clothing them. Money to be made every step of the way. Follow the Money.

And jobs. Tons of jobs. Wonderful jobs like prison guard and urine test observer that really elevate the human soul.

Forget it, Jack, it's Chaveztown.

We are not done with this clusterf***. Because meanwhile back at the ranch


From article above:

Under any of those scenarios, county officials also envision Wapato as a yoke off their neck. It costs the county $400,000 a year to merely keep the facility closed.

"I wish I had that crystal ball," said county Chairman Jeff Cogen, who took over that job after Wheeler departed to be state treasurer. "It's not that there are governments waiting in the wings for this designation to happen."


Wapato was built former Port of Portland property in North Portland to accommodate an anticipated increase in new inmates that didn't materialize.

While the county spent $58 million to build the jail, a report to the Legislature issued earlier this year pegged a purchase price at $45 million, plus another $17 million for start-up, remodeling and facility upgrade costs.

Complicating matters, the state also has been looking at building a brand new, 532-bed prison in Junction City for nearly $47 million and $7.2 million in start up costs.

************************* END of clip

When will they ever learn? Govt eff up after govt eff up... and why not let the feds have Wapato for their lock-up?

Now, the county is asking Portland to alter the conditional use permit used to build and open the jail. The deadline for written comments to the city is Wednesday, Aug. 11, while a public hearing is set for Sept. 1.

No opposition to the changes have emerged in the nine months since former County Chairman Ted Wheeler started the process of seeking the usage changes, said Peter Finley Fry,a planning consultant assisting the county.

"Everything looks great," for a land use planning hearing examiner's approval, Fry said Tuesday.

But that outlook just applies to a governmental tweak.

Getting inmates into the building and collecting revenue is another matter for the county. There's no telling when or if that might happen.

Nothing says rising home and condo prices like "walking distance from Federal jail facility" in the MLS listing.

The suckers who bought down really did get the shaft -- even the ones who got their recent auction "bargains."

You got it wrong, Jack. The building is the office for ICE to replace the building on 511 NW Broadway. All the ICE offices will be located there. It will have a holding cell but only during the day for court appearances as the aliens will be shipped out in the evenings. Immigration originally wanted to move out into the suburbs but the immigration advocates put up a fuss because of transportation issues so GSA obtained that property. You can’t have it both ways. New Federal security standards (remember Timothy McVeigh) dictate a building that is built like a bunker.

You got it wrong, Jack.

Maybe somewhat.

the aliens will be shipped out in the evenings

And where would that be?

It will have a holding cell

Until today, that's something that hasn't been mentioned.

The double fence and guard shack make clear that this isn't going to be just a typical federal office building.

I don’t see a double fence or guard tower. The 511 Broadway building has a holding cell. The aliens will go where they go now, county jails that offer the best rates for the Feds. Currently it is in Hood River. They used to go to Multnomah County but they charged too much.

The double fence and guard shack are casually mentioned here -- along with a vehicle inspection area:


The reader's friend says he or she is designing a jail. For now, unless you've got something solid to the contrary, I'm going with that.

Jack, the double fence and guard shack are the security measures which are the standards for Federal buildings of that nature. The double fence is for the parking lot for the vehicles. Go to the 511 Broadway building, they have a fenced parking lot there too. Yes there will be a holding cell. One of the divisions of ICE is DRO, which stands for Deportation Removal Operations. They are the bureau that deals with deporting the aliens. Once a deportation order is issued and all appeals have been exhausted the DRO deports the aliens. A holding cell is used to process the aliens for their court hearing and eventual deportation. This building is just a replacement of the existing building at 511. Aliens involved with long term incarceration are shipped to Tacoma. They have plenty of beds there. New federal mandates involve alternatives to detention. Google ISAP.

I don’t see a double fence or guard tower...

Jack, the double fence and guard shack are the security measures which are the standards for Federal buildings of that nature.

Please let us know when you stop moving.

There will be federal cells with bars around them. That's news. Will there be beds? Food prepared for the inmates?

Sometimes short-term jails become de facto long-term jails.

A holding cell is used to process the aliens for their court hearing and eventual deportation.

Define "eventual."

There are so many questions that the people in SoWhat need to ask about this facility. Up to this point, the whole project has been hidden -- no doubt, deliberately so. It's time for some official Q&A.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...
It's a duck!
Or in this case...guard towers and fences look like a jail to me!

There are no guard towers being proposed. There would be a guard shack at the gate.

But there will be two fences.

Does it matter if it only holds inmates for the day? It's still gonna have criminals coming in and out. Even the ones who aren't incarcerated will come in to report like immigrant probation... Some where ankle bracelets. I knew an illegal who had to report in at that 511 place but wasn't in jail. He was a burglar, but not in custody. Great to be bringing in criminals to a high rent neighborhood. Bet the problems go way up!

Someone needs to inform the developers, business owners, realtors and new condo owners of this. Bet they wouldn't have bought down there if they knew an immigration jail was going to be a stone's throw away!!!


Good luck. If they promise to put an eco-roof on it, and install a few bike racks, it's surely a done deal.

The current facility has two dormitories, one for men and the other for women. There are no individual cells. Food is provided as the aliens are brought in the morning and leave in the evening. I have no idea if the new facility will mirror the existing one or not. I suspect it will be similar though more modern.

The deportation process can be very complicated. If you happen to be an illegal Mexican Male, you are processed immediately and go to Tacoma then get the next flight out to Mexico. Females with dependant children are handled differently. If the children are US citizens ICE has to obtain passports from the alien’s country and they are deported together. These females are released on bail, recognizance, or to alternatives to detention programs like ISAP. There are aliens that come from countries of which the US does not have diplomatic relations. These aliens may be released on bail, recognizance or to alternatives to detention, or may stay incarcerated for up to six months until DRO obtains permission form their home country to deport them. Some countries do not want their people back, particularly if they are criminals. Countries that are difficult to deport to are Viet Nam, Cambodia, Iran, Somalia and some Soviet republics.

It makes total sense to place a jail on some of Portland's most expense real estate at over $5 Million per block, along our river, in our Greenway, where we hope most of it's occupants won't use all the public amenities paid by taxpayers like the trolley and possibly the future Light Rail, the Parks, and the Tram. Sam is one great Planner. He should immediately resign and become the Dean of Planning at PSU.

Remember it was the immigration advocates pressuring the Feds not to place the immigration offices in the suburbs that resulted in that location. There is not a lot of property in the central city that will accommodate a building of that type with the security requirements mandated by the GSA. In any case the facility is not going to be much different than the 511 NW Broadway building. If you look closely that facility is also a couple of blocks from a bunch of Pearl Condos. I don’t really see what the big deal is. The new office will be for facilitation of all the immigration processing including the requests for Citizenship.

Truck traffic, car traffic, parking, access to and exit from -- does GBD Architecture have impact studies?

If the feds need a detention center, why aren't they taking over Wapato Jail?

Its not LEED Platinum.

"guard shack" ROFLOL

SoWa has jumped the shark!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many billions of dollars of developer weasel led, corporate crony oriented "security" based upgrades, relo's and new Federal building projects going up nationwide. If your jurisdiction is well liked the property is privately developed and leased to the Feds in order to keep it on the local tax rolls. None of the spending increases our country's productive capacity one iota but it does create a supply pull for additional Federal employment and program permanence and proliferation.

If they're going to build a jail, then I guess I'd rather have it in SoWhat rather than SE Portland or St. Johns.

But I thought the whole point of building large skinny condo towers was to create a walkable livable environment where a car isn't necessary.

How does a federal building with a guard shack and two fences fit into that overall plan?

The South Waterfront area is very vulnerable right now. The towers are half sold, while there is little to no new development happening. The last thing you want is a prison-like building next door, scaring potential buyers. The city has invested a lot of money down there and building a fenced off federal prison seems counterproductive.

I guess the new slogan is:

Portland - Where you can live in a downtown condo and walk to your job as a prison guard. (because that's the only job available)


Interesting concept. When will it be tried around here.

Because when I see every supposed advantage our local fools gin up being built around the Rose Quarter/Convention center and it still needs a bid subsidy for any memorial coliseum or big pink redevelopment the model sucks.

The tax money never stops flowing into this foolish experiment masquerading as central planning.

It's never enough and failure is never recognized. Only the need to spend more.

Near downtown, has multiple light rail lines, near a mall, convention center, Rose Garden arena, subsidized transit oriented mixed use development and it's still not inviting enough for market rate private development?

No, we have to keep bureaucrats busy scheming on how to force us to also pay for a Convention Center Hotel coming plans for a sustainable eco redevelopment of memorial coliseum and big pink.

Because as we know there's nothing more important to spend our money on.

I would like to see their traffic impact study. If this were a pure commercial project, the developer would have to make improvements to the infrastructure to handle the added traffic, etc.

Traffic is a good point. How about all the immigration and jail vans and buses that will be coming in and out of there? Why couldn't they put this thing out by the airport?

Traffic impact study?

There was never a traffic impact study completed for all of SoWa. The city deliberately only looked at the connection to the city center.
No study was ever done that included any impacts on traffic to or from the south.
Not Macadam, not Barbur and not I-5.

Imagine if a private development suggested such an approach.

This was one of many of the fatal flaws pointed out by SoWa/Tram critics.

I don't care what euphemism you use, this is a prison. Detention center, jail, internment camp, work camp, it is all the same. Are people behind two walls with armed guards and a controlled access point? Either way buses full of guys in leg irons are going to be coming and going from the facility. This is not appropriate for to put in any neighborhood. Move it out to the airport industrial area where it belongs.

John Benton,
If you think this is no big deal, we can get you a terrific deal on a South Waterfront condo. Are you in?

Seems to me that the US taxpayers are spending a lot of money transporting all the illegal criminal aliens around all over the country.
The Wapato Jail would be perfect! Close to PDX and currently empty! and costing money to remain empty.
'John Benton'...I would gather that you do not currently live either in the Pearl or in SoWat? And why, pray tell us all, are you so supportive of this current scam by the 'gov-mint' entities?

"If the feds need a detention center, why aren't they taking over Wapato Jail?"

No new union construction jobs and no political favors will be repaid.

Bill, no I don’t live in either area. I personally don’t like condo living and wouldn’t consider it one way or the other. As a point of reference the 511 NW Broadway facility was there long before the Pearl was developed. I don’t think many people in Portland were or are aware that there is a holding cell in that building and those prisoners get shuffled in and out. The numbers are small maybe a dozen or so at a time. In any case it is not like the justice center that deals with hundreds of prisoners a week. Let me reiterate that is was the progressive immigration advocates, the same kind of progressives that love developments like SoWa and the Pearl that cajoled the feds into relocating and staying in the city core. I personally could care less where they put it, but it was politics and logistics that placed it there. The big point here is that most of the building is for immigration and customs offices, the holding cell is a minor part the much larger ICE operation.

Hold on, John. I'm a progressive and I hate developments like South Waterfront. I cringe at these government partnerships with business. In a recent post, Jack, made an East Berlin reference and I think it's apt. I went on a day tour of East Berlin before the Wall came down and the benefits of free enterprise were so obvious.

Over there they had cartoon cars and huge slabs of hideous, apartment buildings. Back on the other side there were Mercedes and tremendous economic growth. I'm firmly against this central planning committee-vibe that gave us South Waterfront - and ignored a private plan for the area's development.

I also have been to the building on NW Broadway in connection with an Iranian waiter's deportation case. It was an eye-opener to feel like I was overseas again.

Look, I'm not clear on the details of the building here - but the fact that we'd even consider that a big prison was going in, speaks to the well-deserved distrust of our city planners.

I believe South Waterfront was a disaster of government interference in free enterprise, and anything that can follow from a decision that bad, can only make things worse.

If you did live there, I'm sure you'd agree this isn't a positive development. You may even feel like the government was kissing your little dream condo project off.

The NW Charter School is moving in next door into the old Discovery Center space as of Sept 1st. Isn't there a bit of a conflict with holding prisoners (whether it is a jail or not) and having little kids going to school next door?

Correction: I meant the "SW Charter School" not "NW Charter School" in my post above. Sorry for the error.

I know some of the condo owners and renters in SoWhat. I wonder if the Portland Police have the capability of handling pitchfork brigades at the next City Council meeting without firing a shot.

As others have said, why not the airport? Plenty of underutilized Port land to build a secure bunker on, easy road access from 205 and Marine Drive, accessible by the Red Line MAX, and planes standing by for repatriation once deportation orders are issued. The City must be extremely desperate for anchor tenants in SoWhat to greenlight this . . .

So explain to me again why we need a new giant ICE office with a holding cell that holds only 12 people at a time at all???
Is this to replace the bio tech jobs that never materialized?
Planning??? There is NO planning, only graft and corruption on the part of "kiddie hall" and the SamRand twins.

In jest,
Since there is so much vacancy in SoWhat, why build a new building? Turn one of the empty condos into the holding cell. The interior of one may not be finished anyway. Building done.
Perhaps the owners of the condos would prefer that it be hidden and look like a condo that belongs there rather than a jail structure within their midst. The fence could be a beautifully designed fence and the guard shack could also be hidden with architectural appointments. Then there would be no embarrassment when visitors come as all would be camouflaged. They could also dress the prisoners in designer suits as they are transported. All taken care of so it looks good!!

Isn't that proposed project too close to the river, should flooding occur and we have had flooding here along the Willamette.

The whole immigration problem is going to go away, folks, it's a matter of time.

Went to go get my driver's license renewed. It had been brought to my attention that it was expired, by the sharper-eyed airline boarding clerk on our return from the most congested airport in the world. She shrugged, rolled her eyes, called her manager, who looked at the photo and gave me an irritated, momentary look/appraisal and waved me through.

Not so at the driver's license place.

Proof of citizenship, like passport, B.C., or report of birth abroad, thanks.

Proof of your SS number being real. "Like a copy of your tax records", she says. I blink. She says "Any page of your return is fine".

Proof of your residence. A utility bill with your name on it, "FROM THE LAST 60 days only", thanks.

I'm not saying there aren't ways around this, and not all illegal immigrants need to drive, but this will make a huge difference down the road. Now, if employers just were required to do the same....

"I'm not saying there aren't ways around this, and not all illegal immigrants need to drive, but this will make a huge difference down the road. Now, if employers just were required to do the same...."

Oh, yeah, because someone in the country without permission would never DRIVE without a license.

They will drive long enough to get pulled over, jailed, and sent back home. As soon as we can all agree that anyone who breaks the law in serious ways (and driving without insurance is one of them, in my opinion) should be subject to proving their legal residency.

It will be interesting to see what the Supreme court comes up with on the Arizona law. The current circuit court decision has ruled that making people prove their legal residency before getting out of jail is unconstitutional. Hello. How on earth is that unconstitutional?

How on earth is that unconstitutional?

The residual effect of decades of brainwashing by the Comintern on the minds of those who interpret the law, that's how. In this case, something as clear and simple as citizenship has become blurry. Add some heapin' helpins of white liberal guilt and double standards and unbelievable hypocrisy, and presto ! Disaster. Simple textbook Hegelian Dialectic...thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Create massive social problems and then create the solution to them, controlling both sides of the debate.

It was most informative to read that autobiography of the one-time superstar of the Comintern, Jan Valtin. The little pinko commie scumbags who burrowed into governments and legal systems round the world, including ours, never gave one hoot about racial equality...they only paid lip service to it and/or set the races against each other when it served their ends. Usually, the disintegration of the rule of law and the building blocks of a society.

Decades later, long after the fall of the Soviet, we will still be feeling the repercussions of their mischief.

57 posts here and so far nothing re Lindquist Development response re traffic and parking impact study.

I'm thinking the inmates will have a terrific view of the river.

In SamSpeak a guard shack and double fence might just be a Gated Community.

KGW had a report on this last night, so it isn't being successfully kept on the down low.


ICE spokesperson says it will NOT be a detention center like Tacoma, but involve holding cells where no one would be kept longer than 12 hrs. Presented as a consolidation of ICE facilities from NW & the Federal Building for efficiency. Proposal to add to existing building comes from Feds, not a city initiative. Currently in regulatory process relating land use, next hearing Sept 23rd.

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