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County pushes for sale of Foster Road's Wikman Building

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Gathering for a photo and holding a picture of community leader Lea Wikman, for whom the building is currently named, are family members Jodanna Wishon, Bryan McCann, Carl Wikman, Tim McCann, Jeanette McCann and Therese Monroe and Ann Wikman Kastberg.About a year ago, Multnomah County announced it was putting the former Arleta Carnegie Library – since renamed the Wikman Building – at 4420 S.E. 64th Avenue, a block off Foster Road, up for sale.

Various nonprofit organizations started meeting, and forming a coalition that includes the Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood associations, the Foster Area Business Association, ROSE Community Development Corporation, and the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition.

Turning the building into a modern grange hall, a farmers market, or a community center, have all been floated for the red brick 7,120 sq. ft. building.

On September 29, Multnomah County used the Wikman Building to showcase its services as part of the “Fun of Foster” promotion, and District 3 Commissioner Judy Shiprack was on hand to talk with visitors.

“Multnomah County has prioritized making the Wikman building a public access building for this community,” Shiprack told THE BEE. “We’d like to see the next occupant keep its historic character, as a former Carnegie Library.”

But, at the same time, Shiprack added, “The County wants to realize the full appraised value of this property, so that we can apply the proceeds from the sale of the building into our ‘Safety Net’ programs, county-wide.”

The problem is, most non-profit groups are strapped for cash.

“I feel that an assortment of not-for-profit organizations might be able to put together the wherewithal to utilize this building for a headquarters or other use,” Shiprack suggested.

But she pointed out that – while the situation “fits the culture of this area” – the building has no off-street parking. “Nonetheless, it’s pretty much located here in the hub of the pedestrian and bicycling community.”

By now, the Commissioner pointed out, Multnomah County had hoped to have negotiated the building’s sale.

“We've already kind of blown through our initial timetables,” Shiprack commented. “The county is being very patient with groups that are putting their plans and finances together.”

How patient?

“By the end of this year, we need [the coalition] to come to us with a plan,” Shiprack said. Obviously, the pressure is on, and time is short.

To that end, the “Wikman-Arleta” coalition’s steering committee has been meeting monthly and working to raise $3,000 to enter the Portland Development Commission’s Development Opportunity Services Program, which would award an additional $12,000 to the Wikman-Arleta Building Project.

Find out more, including seeing some of their documentation, at the website: HYPERLINK "http://www.wikman-arleta.org" www.wikman-arleta.org