IT WAS WORTH a shot. A few weeks after deciding they would help Right 2 Dream Too move to some other part of town besides the Pearl District, developers Dike Dame and Homer Williams and their team came up with a decent gambit to shut the whole drama down.
With R2DToo's current landlord, Michael Wright, making noise about the city's legal promise to move the homeless rest area off NW 4th and Burnside by the end of October, they figured they could buy his cooperation—and more time to work on the rest area's relocation—with a few thousand dollars and a promise.
If they paid the money to quiet Wright, the offer went, then Right 2 Dream Too would formally give up on the Pearl site already promised by the city, a lot beneath the Broadway Bridge's Lovejoy off-ramp.
It seemed reasonable. But it was actually something else: a "poison pill," as R2DToo attorney Mark Kramer put it, meant to chip away at whatever leverage the rest area's organizers still have in their uphill fight against Dame and Williams and the city hall powers, like Mayor Charlie Hales, now standing firmly in their corner.
R2DToo (with their own city hall champion, Commissioner Amanda Fritz) wisely decided not to bite down. Writing off the Lovejoy site altogether, R2DToo realized, would have removed crucial pressure on the developers to come up with a meaningful alternative.
With the Lovejoy site still alive and on the table, as Fritz and Kramer both insist it is, Dame and Williams might actually have to make good on their (expensive and annoying) threats to tie up the move with legal action and a state appeal.
R2DToo's refusal was met with a chill.
"That's when negotiations, even in the back channels, died," Kramer told me.
But not for long. And how come? Because leverage matters.
Within several days, the developers had put out a press release announcing a framework for an agreement—with stated promises like keeping R2DToo close to social services and help providing transportation. And then, last Thursday, November 7, the Mercury broke the news of an actual breakthrough.
The Pearl group had submitted, for the first time, a serious list of potential alternative sites. And keeping the Lovejoy site in play, it seemed, was a key ingredient in making that happen.
John Mangan, a spokesman for the Pearl group, confirmed the list had been sent. But neither side has been willing to share too much about what it includes since then.
Kramer wouldn't give addresses but confirmed that the sites are "on both sides" of the Willamette River—meaning some are close to Old Town and its important gathering of social services. That's a major priority for R2DToo. It wants its sleeping space available and nearby, day and night, for people who are already downtown for appointments or to take free meals at relief agencies.
The Mercury also learned that some of the sites include both indoor and outdoor space, another point on R2DToo's wish list.
The list could mean a deal is in sight, although Kramer carefully says it's "premature."
R2DToo has begun checking out the offerings, but isn't commenting on whether it's fallen in love with any of them yet. It's also not ready to say it wants to give up on the Lovejoy site. Both are smart plays.
And how come? It's simple. Because leverage matters.