PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — After two decades of wishful thinking and dreaming, city officials could move soon to buy the sprawling U.S. Postal Service complex in Northwest Portland.
The Portland Development Commission revealed its preferred development scenario for the 14-acre complex Tuesday evening, which calls for 3,100 dwelling units and enough office space to accommodate 4,000 jobs. The North Park Blocks would be extended by two blocks to the north, with a line of mid-rise residential and office towers straddling the park and stretching from N.W. Hoyt Street to Lovejoy Street.
The City Council and Portland Development Commission hope to make a “go/no-go decision for acquisition of the post office site” in October, said Sarah Harpole, the PDC staffer heading up the project, at a community open house on the project Tuesday night.
A team of consultants reported that the preferred development concept could pencil out financially, but it won’t be cheap: $160 million before a single building is erected on site.
The Postal Service is only willing to part with its Northwest Hoyt Street mail distribution center if the city pays to buy the land and build a replacement facility, which would cost up to $80 million.
Building streets, water and sewer lines, parks and setting aside land for affordable housing would cost another $80 million. That would include extending Johnson Street east through the site. Ultimately, the site is envisioned to include 645 affordable apartment units.
Once the land is made ready to develop, the PDC would then begin to recoup its investment by selling it to apartment, office and other developers, which could take 15 years or more.
“Acquisition and redevelopment of the (post office) site is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for PDC and the City to meet affordable housing, economic development, redevelopment, transportation, and open space goals on a large, contiguous property in the middle of downtown and adjacent to Portland’s regional transit hub,” PDC Director Patrick Quinton wrote in a new report to the commission board.
On Wednesday, Quinton will brief the board on PDC’s plan to seek interim financing from the city general fund, because the agency has only budgeted $35.7 million for the post office project over the next five years. The PDC is already discussing the financing with the city Office of Management and Finance, and expects to seek approval from the City Council in a Sept. 17 work session.
Under the current plan, the PDC board would approve a framework plan for the post office and surrounding area, totaling 24 acres, on Oct. 14. At that time, the board would grant PDC authority to execute a sale agreement with the U.S. Postal Service for up to $80 million.