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March 5th, 2014 AARON MESH | News Stories
 

Camping Trip

City Hall is looking at 21 new sites for a homeless camp. But only a few options are serious.

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Finding a dream home for a homeless camp is an unusual assignment for commercial real-estate broker Cushman & Wakefield.

But as the company helps Portland City Hall pick possible locations to move Right 2 Dream Too, it’s using an evergreen technique from the salesman’s playbook: Excite the buyer with unrealistic options.

As first reported Feb. 26 on wweek.com, the city and its broker have revealed a list of 21 possible sites for the camp, after Portland officials pledged Feb. 17 to give camp leaders $846,000 to move out of Old Town/Chinatown. The list shows possible locations ranging from the inner east side all the way to Milwaukie.

But like a Realtor showing a burger flipper a Dunthorpe mansion, Cushman & Wakefield has dangled properties that are beyond Right 2 Dream Too’s reach. 

Some cost more than the city’s pledged price tag, and others are outside the camp’s stated perimeter of 1.5 miles from City Hall. Many sites are located next to businesses sure to complain—such as the hip Jupiter Hotel on East Burnside Street or the Ocean, a trendy mini-restaurant complex at Northeast 24th Avenue and Glisan Street—or are uninhabitable. (An empty lot at 110 SW Arthur St. is the site of a former gas station with leaking tanks, and is still listed as an active clean-up site by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.)

In fact, sources inside City Hall say as few as four locations are actually being considered. Other observers wonder if Portland is seriously looking at potential sites.

Marshall Runkel, who as an aide to then-City Commissioner Erik Sten was tasked with finding a site for Dignity Village, says that was the toughest assignment in his eight-year City Hall career.

Runkel recalls a public meeting when the city identified a site next to the Safari strip club at Southeast Powell Boulevard and 30th Avenue.

“It was easily the worst public meeting I’ve ever been to,” he says. “People are really afraid about having a large homeless camp near them. That fear is really powerful.”

City insiders and local real-estate appraisers say the three sites below offer the most realistic place for Right 2 Dream Too to lay its head.  

 

1. 2439 NW 22nd Ave.

  • Asking price: $499,000
  • Current use: Pipe storage lot for the Bureau of Environmental Services (the city’s sewer department).
  • Neighbors: Furniture boutique Schoolhouse Electric Co. and an electric transmission substation.
  • Best feature: It’s a property the city already owns, and it’s not in a residential neighborhood.

2. 2310 N Albina Ave.

  • Asking price: $4,000 a month
  • Current use: Gravel parking lot.
  • Neighbors: Chemical supply company Tarr LLC and cabinet carpenter ECOpdx.
  • Best feature: One block from MAX Yellow Line, offering quick access to downtown social services.

3. 686 N Russell St.

  • Asking price: $260,000
  • Current use: Grassy lot.
  • Neighbors: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, Tarr LLC and cocktail bar Mint/820.
  • Best feature: MAX access—and the area has limited redevelopment potential.

Other proposed sites are shown in red.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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