The urban renewal agency today has posted a brand-new request for development proposals (pdf), giving interested parties a deadline of mid-March to submit their ideas. The PDC had agreed way back in 2011 to lend prominent developer David Gold and his partners $2.46 million, on top of a deal on the land, in hopes he might turn the place into a youth hostel with storefronts on W Burnside and NW 4th. Gold and his partners' two-year option expired last July, however, before the deal could become final.
Gold had been warning he might not be able to do the deal ever since Right 2 Dream Too opened across the street in October 2011.
"We are about to invest over $4 million across the street in the new [renamed] Grove Hostel," Gold wrote city hall the day the rest area opened, according to emails obtained by the Mercury. "While I can't say that this homeless campground will kill the Hostel, my partners and I are understandably upset."
The property has been empty for years after serving as drug-and-alcohol housing run by Home Forward and Central City Concern. The city, under Commissioner Randy Leonard, eventually bought it and made fire code fixes but left several other lingering issues for a developer. Those fixes—seismic improvements and a brand-new roof—likely contributed to the challenge of selling the place as much as the presence of a rest area that's been seen as a pretty good neighbor.
The following bits from the PDC's latest request shed some light on why no one's been back in the Grove, which has been pointed to as a possible temporary shelter for some of the 1,800 people sleeping outside every night.
N. Building Condition and Code Violations. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete with secondary wood framing (Type III-B). The building may require seismic upgrading depending upon the use. The roof is in poor condition and is in need of full tear-off and replacement.
The building will remain vacant per a Stipulated Agreement with the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) as a waiver to not being required to correct substantial code violations until the building title is transferred to a private developer for adaptive reuse and renovation.
The request comes amid talks about selling land across the street currently occupied by Right 2 Dream Too, part of the city's effort to find a permanent home for the rest area. I've got a call into the PDC to see if today's announcement means the PDC is optimistic a deal might happen sooner than later.