Developers wanted Waptao for homeless services
Two prominent developers wanted to buy Wapato Jail from Multnomah County for a homeless service center.
Jordan Menashe tells the Portland Tribune that he and his father Barry submitted an offer to county for the jail in North Portland, which was originally built as a 525-bed minimum security jail and drug treatment center.
On Tuesday the county announced it had signed a letter of intent to pursue selling the jail to Kehoe Northwest Properties instead. The Oregonian has reported its offer calls for the jail to be used as a medical equipment distribution center.
Jordan and Barry Menashe, who own Menashe Commercial Properties, have previously allowed one of their vacant downtown properties to be used as a temporary homeless shelter.
"Barry and I are both continually and daily disturbed and disgusted by the way the city and county are responding to the homeless epidemic. Wapato is a pristine facility with a kitchen and basketball courts and more that could help the homeless. It's not warehousing the homeless. The county's decision is very disappointing," said Jordan, who would not discuss the details of his offer.
But Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury dispute Jordan's version of the offer.
"That is not true. Jordan Menashe submitted an offer on Wapato, but that offer made no reference to a homeless shelter or homeless service center. The offer expired. At that point, Mr. Menashe withdrew all interest and chose not to participate further. We did receive other offers and I am pleased that we now have this signed letter of intent to move forward," Kafoury said in a statement eamiled to the Portland Tribune.
The 155,400-square-foot jail sits on 18.24 acres of industrial land in the Rivergate Industrial Park. It cost $58 million to build. An analysis by the Portand Tribune shows the total cost to date is more than $90 million, including interest and maintenance payments, and could exceed $105 million by the time all the bonds are finally paid off in 2030.
'Wapato has dogged every Board and cost every taxpayer since it was completed,'' Chair Deborah Kafoury said when the county announced the potential sale. 'It is past time to end this debacle and get this property back on the tax rolls."
After receiving six proposals, the county selected the Kehoe offer. Kafoury signed a letter of intent to sell the property on Tuesday, Oct. 31. Details of the letter of intent remain confidential while the buyer performs due diligence. The board of County Commissioners must approve any final purchase in a public meeting.
The county did not immediatey disclose the dollar amount of the offer for the Wapato was appraised as an industrial building for $8.5 million in 2014.
Two previous unsolicited offers fell through over the past year. This offer came through CBRE Portland real estate services, which the county retained several months ago to sell surplus properties.
County Commissioner Loretta Smith has that proposed Wapto be converted to a homeless treatment and residential facility, an idea supported by some homeless advocates but opposed by others. A majority of the commission has opposed that idea, however.
Portland homeless advocate Stuart Emmons has filed a public records request to obtain all information on offers for the property, which he believes should be use as a homeless shelter and treatment center.
Among other things, Emmons is requesting all conditions and purchase prices in the offers, plus all emails, letters, texts, and phone records between Kehoe representatives and county commissioners and staff members.
"I'm now officially mad. 1600 people are suffering on our streets, with life threatening conditions imminent, and the County, which could house probably over 600 at Wapato, does not seem to care. We may see nearly 100 deaths on our streets this winter if past statistics are a forecaster," Emmons emailed the Portland Tribune. An architect, he is considering running for the City Council.
County Commissioner Loretta Smith has that proposed Wapto be coverted to a homeless treatment and residential facility, an idea supported by some homeless advocates but opposed by others. A majority of the commission has opposed that idea, however.
In the past, Kafoury pursued two unsolicted offers for the facility, located at 14355 N. Bybee Lake Court. The first was a $9 million offer from real estate speculator Garison Russo. He withdrew it after the Portland Tribune questioned his development experience and financial backing in a series of articles. Pacific Development Partners made a $10 million offer earlier this year, but it lapsed before being completed.
Other surplus county properties will be for sale in the near future through CBRE. They may include the McCoy Building at 426 SW Stark St., which is being replaced with a new health center currently under consruction next to Bud Clark Commons in Old Town/Chinatown. Another is the Central Courthouse at 1021 S.W. 4th Ave., which is being replaced with a new courthouse currently under construction at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge.