PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Eighteen months ago, Multnomah County reopened a former strip club in East Portland as a remodeled emergency homeless family shelter.

On Wednesday, the City Council will be asked to purchase the building that houses a strip club and surrounding property for up to 300 affordable housing units at 3000 S.E. Powell Blvd. It could be one of the earliest projects funded by the $258.4 million affordable housing bond approved by Portland voters last November.

If the council approves the $3.72 million request from the Portland Housing Bureau, the Safari Showclub will move out before the sale closes in September. And like the transformation of the former Black Cauldron at 16015 S.E. Stark St., the change will probably be welcomed by many of the nearby residents.

According to the ordinance to considered by the council on Aug. 9, the need for up to 300 affordable housing units in the area was first identified by the Powell-Division Bus Rapid Transit Project proposed by Metro and TriMet. Although the Inner Powell alignment was dropped from the project, the finding prompted the housing bureau to initiate a property search that identified the 50,000 square foot parcel as a suitable location.

The property is currently owned by G & R Powell Building LLC. An appraisal determined the value to be $4.23 million. However, an environmental assessment found methane on the property, which must be mitigated before any project can be undertaken.

Company co-founder Robert Rice says the methane probably originates from organic material buried in fill on the property. He said much of the surrounding area was raised with fill many years ago for development. He was willing to discount the price because of the cost required to mitigate the methane.

Rice’s company does not own the Safari Club, just the building where it is located. He agreed they would leave before the deal closes if approved by the council. The company also owned the Virginia Cafe in downtown Portland, and Rice, an accountant, serves on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

A citizen Stakeholders Advisory Group is currently drafting a framework for spending the affordable housing bond funds. It is scheduled to be approved by the council in mid-October, after which the money can be spent. It is expected to preserve or build 1,300 units of affordable housing.

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