Developer may raze iconic Portland grain mill sold for $13M

Multnomah County

Crews work to demolish part of Centennial Mills in 2016. (Pamplin Media Group)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Prosper Portland’s board has voted to approve the sale of the Centennial Mills site in Portland’s Pearl District, recognizable by a 1910 grain mill and warehouse with a water tower on top.

However, the economic and urban development agency for the city of Portland said new owners will not have to preserve the iconic building, beloved by residents, photographers and high-risk trespassers.

The board OK’d selling the 4.4 acres of waterfront property for $13 million to California developers Handson Equities LLC, Emma Corp. and MLR Ventures LLC. The deal is a “disposition and development agreement” with the development group, which has up to 10 years to build something.

The site, which flooded in 1996, also is contaminated with industrial pollutants. Taggers frequently climb the building to paint on it and pose for selfies.

Prosper Portland doubled its money in 20 years if other expenses, such as security, are overlooked.

Portland Tribune and its parent, Pamplin Media Group, are KOIN 6 news partners.

The city bought the property for $7.7 million in 2000.

The developers will now have time to do their due diligence on the site, which has had buyers fall through before, most notably Jordan Schnitzer’s Harsch Development.

The group includes Tim Ralston of Portland, who was favored for his experience with nearby property River North and Riverscape Townhomes, according to Sarah Harpole, a senior project manager for Prosper Portland.

Other vintage buildings on the site have been torn down gradually over the past decade as they teetered over the river on rotten pilings.

In 2017, the Portland City Council approved the request of the Portland Development Commission (as Prosper Portland was then known) to demolish most of Centennial Mills but sparing the grain mill. The Portland Police Bureau’s Mounted Horse Patrol, which moved out in 2015 never returned. GBD Architects is working on a master plan for the site.

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