At a January 25 meeting, Chusal, LLC, the developers who bid last year to purchase the North Campus property in “as-is” condition, met with the State of Oregon to try to reach a purchase solution prior to the final demolition of five historic buildings.
The meeting, described by an attending North Campus neighbor as “contentious,” did not result in an agreement.
This outcome means that final demolition of the five buildings, all listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, will occur in the next few weeks.
The Oregon State Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has owned the 47-acre “north Campus” property – formerly the northern section of the Oregon State Hospital and located between D and Center, 23rd and Park – since 2012, and is responsible for selling it. In order to elicit bids, DAS put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2013 and 2016.
In 2016, Chusal, LLC, a group of 14 architects, planners, developers and investors organized by Alex Rhoten, Principal Broker at Coldwell Banker Commercial Mountain West Real Estate, offered to purchase the property “as-is” so the buildings could remain. This occurred even as hazard abatement had already begun inside them.
DAS rejected Chusal LLC’s offer on October 14 without specifying its reasons.
Although the state legislature authorized funds to tear down the old buildings in 2015, neighbors and community observers have long advocated that they remain standing to be incorporated into new development, and as a gesture towards Oregon’s history.
“The [January 25] meeting seemed to be an effort to get the state to re-examine their three rejections of this group’s various RFP submissions,” says Maren Wryn, an attending neighbor who has defended the buildings and historic trees for many years.
Chusal was represented at the meeting by Lewis K Moller, of LKM Real Estate Portland. “Over the course of 2016, we made three proposals to the state” Moller says. These included a proposal in March and July, and submitting an official RFP response in the fall.
Moller says Chusal LLC “did not receive an itemization of the issues the state had concerns over.” He says the group is “disappointed, because the State said all items were negotiable and [yet] they didn’t try to communicate their concerns. So we were not given the opportunity to satisfy their concerns.”
At the meeting on January 25, 2017, Moller and Chusal LLC tried again. Even with the buildings already hollowed out by interior demolition, Moller says, “we expressed willingness to evaluate conditions of buildings as they are now, and submit a new offer.”
After what Wryn calls a “contentious back and for about plans & designs submitted,” DAS repeated that they were not interested in working with Chusal LLC at this time.
Wryn left the meeting disappointed. “If what [Moller] said in the meeting is true – and he spoke with an agitated confidence which convinced me it was – ” she says, “then DAS had not really acted in anyone’s interest.”
Chusal has not ruled out interest in the property after the buildings are gone, according to Moller. “We are very grateful and thankful for the efforts of people working to get the state to reevaluate its position,” he says, “We are grateful to the community for its support.”