Sustainability Center: Occupied by ghosts, shadowy figures.
  • Sustainability Center: Occupied by ghosts, shadowy figures.
Portland City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to move forward with the Oregon Sustainability Center, a $75 million gleaming tower of eco-innovation that will rise eight eco-stories over downtown Portland. The eco-vote directs the Portland Development Commission to spend $450,000 on the next phase of designing the building and sets a contingent commitment for the city to rent 33,000 square feet of eco-office space in the finished building at an estimated cost of $32 million.

I criticized the plans for the building on Wednesday, writing that it will be crass to build an expensive new symbol of Portland's green values at the same time we can't find money to keep our parts of our current sustainable infrastructure, TriMet, running.

So who exactly is going to be shouldering the eco-burden for this project? Budget breakdown below the cut.

Here's the breakdown from the city, and for more details check out the city's Powerpoint on the plans:
$4.5 million from state and federal grants, including Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credit.
$2.5 million in in-kind donations from Intel and SolarWorld, which have said they'll donate engineers to the project because as a massive experimental building, it's a good real-life research and development opportunity.
$7 million in city bonds
$7 million in urban renewal money from the South Park Blocks Urban Renewal Area. This project will eat up 52 percent of the URA's money pot for next year and the second-place priority for the district (making up $2.7 million of its budget) is building much-needed affordable housing.
$49 million from the Oregon university system, with $45 million of that coming in the form of bonds that will, hopefully, be paid off in part with money from leasing the retail space on the ground floor of the center. I asked the university system's vice chancellor for finance and administration Jay Kenton if he's worried about being unable to pay the bonds back if the market stays depressed, but he was confident the building will be a success. "Assuming the costs don't go up from where they are right now, we can pay them back," says Kenton. "We are still doing due diligence on whether we are going to build this building."

If you add that all up, it leaves a $6 million budget gap for the project, which the Portland Development Commission is hoping to fill through federal earmarks and private donations.