Two and a half years ago, LoLo Pass opened in Southeast Portland’s vibrant Buckman neighborhood.

The hotel and hostel on East Burnside debuted in 2021, and quickly earned a reputation as a budget-friendly, trendy hotel and gathering space, with a rooftop bar offering sweeping views of the city.

Now, a trifecta of local government agencies is backing plans to buy and convert the property to a 70-bed residential drug and alcohol treatment center.

With $6.25 million in state funding, $6 million from Multnomah County, and another $2 million from the city of Portland, Central City Concern plans to sink $3 million of its own funds into acquiring and renovating the property to operate it as a recovery center, with patients trickling in as soon as late fall. The total cost to purchase and convert the building is currently pegged at $17.25 million.

Funding and logistical plans for the new treatment facility were publicized by Gov. Tina Kotek's office earlier this week, but the exact address of the property was kept quiet. The governor's announcement cited an active non-disclosure agreement in place. But county board agenda documents disclosed the general location at 16th and East Burnside and Willamette Week subsequently reported the property being purchased was the LoLo Pass hotel.

The hotel's owners have stayed quiet about the pending sale and property conversion. So quiet, in fact, that LoLo Pass is still accepting hotel reservations well past its expected closure date, with no outward indication of the massive changes underway.

Lauren Gonzalez of L&L PDX Real Estate Holdings LLC, the hotel’s owner, declined to comment on the property transition. Staff at LoLo Pass also declined to comment, directing all inquiries to Gonzalez.

Juliana Lukasik, senior director of public affairs for Central City Concern (CCC), said confidentiality agreements are "a standard thing" for sellers in these situations.

“This is not unusual at all,” Lukasik told the Mercury. “We’ve done two hotel projects that are called ‘turnkey’ projects.’ They’re businesses that have staff and have business goals for that month. Until the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, they want to make sure they have confidentiality.”

While the need for more treatment beds in Portland was discussed by the governor's Portland Central City Task Force, the notice of plans to open one caught most by surprise. 

Until Wednesday, the jointly funded operation to help CCC buy a hotel and convert it to a residential treatment facility hadn’t been mentioned by the governor’s office, Portland City Council, or the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. 

An announcement from Kotek’s office noted the contract for the operations “was finalized in less than two weeks.”

The county board of commissioners voted to spend $6 million on the project Thursday. The Portland City Council is expected to vote on authorizing $2 million for the new center later this month.

Multnomah County Board Chair Jessica Vega Pederson acknowledged the project was being fast-tracked, in an effort to expand treatment services as quickly as possible. 

“It is what we need from our partners and providers to serve the immediate needs of people across our continuum of care,” Pederson stated in an announcement about the project.

New site could help close gaps in treatment services

Aside from the secrecy and deliberate lack of public outreach, CCC says the product matters more than the process. 

The new facility isn't a detox center. Patients are expected to go through medically-managed detox (typically three to five days) somewhere else, before coming to the new residential treatment location on Burnside.

A bed in a detox center in Southeast Portland. courtney vaughn 

“The biggest gap we have in our community is the residential treatment beds,” Lukasik said, noting detox centers are the first step in a successful recovery process, but without ongoing, inpatient treatment like what's being planned at the Burnside location, patients are far more likely to relapse or continue using other substances.

Successful sobriety often requires wraparound services, and in many cases, supportive housing or transitional housing after patients have completed their treatment. 

It's one of the primary reasons CCC reports a decline in successful outcomes of those who go through its detox center. CCC representatives told county commissioners Thursday that many of its detox patients are getting released "back into the streets," because the region lacks enough residential treatment beds or supportive housing sites to send them to.

Lukasik said the new center will build on CCC’s robust network of services.

“When someone comes into our facility, we’re already thinking about how to get them into a job with income,” Lukasik said, emphasizing the nonprofit’s vision of addressing the full spectrum of needs, from detoxification, recovery, healthcare, housing, and employment.

Once open, the new treatment center will accept patients by referral only. Most will likely be referred from CCC’s Hooper Detox Center, or some other detox program. As planned, the site will be staffed 24 hours a day, with patients staying one to four months, and receiving "step-down" services before they transition out of the center.

This isn’t the first time CCC has partnered with the city, county, and state to fund its programs. In 2010, the three governments chipped in nearly $5 million toward renovations on the now shuttered Hooper Sobering Center on MLK Jr Blvd, to house a Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center (CATC). The sobering center and adjoining CATC were both operated by CCC. The sobering center, which had operated for decades before it closed in 2019, ceased operations after CCC reported more people were coming in high on methamphetamine, which the center didn’t have the resources or staff to address. Reports also highlighted an increase in injuries and self-harm at the center.

More recently, Multnomah County and the state allocated $1.5 million into CCC’s Clean Start program, which employs people who were formerly homeless, or those in addiction recovery, to clean up city streets.

In announcing the Oregon Health Authority's $6.25 million commitment toward the new treatment center, Gov. Kotek called the effort "an incredible opportunity to fill a direct gap in needed treatment options in the central city."

“The urgency and collaboration that made this purchase possible is precisely the kind of leadership this moment demands," Kotek added.