Multnomah County formally puts Wapato Jail up for sale

Decision follows two unsolicited offers

A sign outside Wapato Jail seen on September 7, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Multnomah County announced Thursday that it has retained the CBRE Capital Markets property brokerage firm to sell or lease the never-opened Wapato Jail and other surplus properties.

“In this time of growing property values, Multnomah County is taking aggressive steps to get the most value for our surplus properties for the benefit of taxpayers,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in the announcement. “The team will be marketing Wapato and the other surplus properties to a wide pool of investors.”

At the same time, the county is still performing due diligence on a $10 million offer for the property from California-based Pacific Development Partners. The due diligence period had previously been set to expire on Aug. 10, but was extended to Oct. 10.

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“The Board of Commissioners has been clear that they want to find a buyer for this surplus property and are taking every step to do so and get the property back on the tax rolls,” says county Communications Director Julie Sullivan-Springhetti.

The county has been handling the disposition of the property in-house until now. Effort included a request for ideas that did not generate any viable offers. In addition, Kafoury accepted and pursued two unsolicted offers for the facility, located at 14355 N. Bybee Lake Court. The first was a $9 million offer from real estate speculator Garison Russo. He withdrew it after the Portland Tribune questionned his development experience and financial backing in a series of articles. Pacific Development Partners made its unsolicted offer earlier this year.

According to the announcement, CBRE ales professionals Graham Taylor and Charles Safley will be marketing the property as an industrial or special use facility. With a footprint of 155,400 square feet, the facility is situated on 18.24 acres of land. The county built the complex in 2004, but it was never opened. The county says the property’s existing Heavy Industrial (IH) zoning allows for significant versatility in potential uses. They include: manufacturing and production; warehouse and freight movement; wholesale sales; and self-service storage and vehicle repair.

Wapato was designed as a 525-bed minimum security jail and secure alcohol and drug treatment facility and cost $58 million to build. An analysis by the Portand Tribune shows the total cost to date is more than $90 million to date, including interest and maintenance payments, and could exceed $105 million by the time all the bonds are finally paid off in 2030.

County Commissioner Loretta Smith has proposed Wapto be coverted to a homeless treatment and residential facility, an idea supported by some homeless advocates but opposed by others.

Short of that, Smith said Wapato and other surplus properties should be sold through a formal process similar to the one adopted by Portland after criticism of an underpublicized property sale in Southwest Portland several years ago.

According to the county, the decision to formally market Wapato at this time stems from a larger contract for leasing and transaction services Multnomah County entered with CBRE.

“The individuals advising the county possess the market intelligence and experience to yield a successful outcome on the county’s behalf,” Jason Green, managing director at CBRE in Portland, said in the announcement.

A number of surplus county properties will be for sale in the near future through CBRE. They may include the McCoy Building at 426 SW Stark St., which is being replaced with a new health center currently under consruction next to Bud Clark Commons in Old Town/Chinatown. Another is the Central Courthouse at 1021 S.W. 4th Ave., which is being replaced with a new courthouse currently under construction at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge.