Fish: Put Terminal 1 back up for sale

Fish believes many will bid again if they can, potentially driving up the purchase price.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman will ask the City Council to use this vacant warehouse as a homeless shelter on Aug. 10. (Portland Tribune, Jonathan House)
Commissioner Dan Saltzman will ask the City Council to use this vacant warehouse as a homeless shelter on Aug. 10. (Portland Tribune, Jonathan House)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Commissioner Nick Fish wants the City Council to relaunch the sale of Terminal 1 as soon as possible.

Now that Commission Dan Saltzman has pulled the plug on the homeless shelter and multi-service center proposed for Terminal 1, Fish plans to submit a resolution authorizing it to be put up for sale a second time. The council could consider the resolution as soon as next Wednesday.

“We need to get back to the sales policy we had been following and reassure people that the city keeps its word,” says Fish

The 18-acre parcel of industrial property in Northwest Portland is owned by the Bureau of Environmental Services, which Fish oversees. It had been declared surplus by the council and put up for sale before developer Williams proposed opening the shelter and center there. Saltzman, who oversees the Portland Housing Bureau, convince the council to authorize PHB to lease the property from BES on Aug. 10, just a few days before the bids were due.

The vote was 3-to-2. Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick joined Saltzman to support the lease. Fish and Commissioner Amanda Fritz opposed it.

Seven bids were received by the deadline a few days later. They ranged from $6 million to $10 million. But the vetting process was put on hold while PHB, BES and Williams’ organization — called the Oregon Harbor of Hope — negotiated the lease and sub-lease for Terminal 1.

The negotiations collapsed last Tuesday when Saltzman announced he no longer thought Williams’ proposal was feasible. The next day, Fish liaison told the Portland Tribune he will submit a resolution voiding the lease authorization and putting Terminal 1 back on the market.

According to Fish, the bid process needs to start over because vote for the lease interfered with it. Fish says BES was approached about the sale by more businesses than ended up bidding on it. He believe most if not all of them dropped out of the process when the council approved the lease.

“Our broker told us that people dropped out when the council signaled it would approve the lease,” Fish said.

Fish believes many will bid again if they can, potentially driving up the purchase price, which can be used to reduce future BES rate increases.

Ironically, the surplus sales process BES was following was created after a controversy involving the sale of another property by a different bureau Fish oversees. Several years ago, the Water Bureau sold an abandoned water storage tank in Southwest Portland to a residential developer without following a formal process.

Following neighborhood complaints, Fish worked to develop a step-by-step surplus sales process that the council approved — and then used as a model for all city bureaus. The lease vote interfered with that process just as it was nearing completion.

“We need to prove we can stick to the process we approved,” Fish said.

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