2012 Oregon Legislature adjourns without authorizing bonds for project

The 2012 Oregon Legislature adjourned Tuesday without approving state bonds to help fund the Oregon Sustainability Center.

The so-called living building proposed by Mayor Sam Adams and Portland State University officials is intended to boost Portland's reputation for sustainable development and provide office space for city agencies, PSU and environmentally-oriented non-profit organizations. But many in the legislature thought the estimated $434 per square foot construction cost is too high.

After the sessions ended, Adams released a statement that said, "It is disappointing that partisan, election-year politics trumped progress.This is evidenced by the fact that the Federal Economic Development Administration awarded the project a grant, but the state refused to provide a market rate loan. Nonetheless, I want to thank the Governor and our project partners, including the Oregon University System and Portland State University, for their leadership and commitment to this economic development project of statewide and national importance. We will continue to work with our partners to explore financing alternatives to make the Oregon Sustainability Center a reality."

The building, located on the northeastern edge of PSU, is estimated at $67 million. The current budget calls for the state to provide $32 million in bond money. The bonds were approved by the 2009 Oregon Legislature. The 2011 Oregon Legislature put them on hold after questions were raised about the project's overall financing, however. Last fall the City Council split 3 to 2 on the project, with commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish voting against proceeding.

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