When Concordia closes, what happens to the neighborhood?


Concordia University sits in a NE Portland residential neighborhood

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Concordia University sits on 24 acres in a Northeast Portland residential neighborhood, intersected by city streets and sidewalks. But now that university officials announced Concordia will close, residents wonder what’s going to happen.

Those who live there told KOIN 6 News the university is truly part of their neighborhood, where they feel welcome walking on campus and going to events. Several people said they want historic buildings and the land preserved.

Concordia University, the state’s largest private university, has been in operation since 1905. It’s expected the owners of the property, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, will sell the campus, though the property is not yet for sale.

The 24 acres are zoned for campus or medical center use. But whoever buys the property could request a zoning change. It’s also possible the land could be used to help with the city’s housing emergency and help some in the homeless community.

Concordia University campus in Northeast Portland. February 10, 2020 (KOIN)

“There is the possibility that could during this emergency period allow for some transitional housing on the site temporarily,” said Ken Ray with the Portland Bureau of Development Services.

Concordia officials told KOIN 6 News there would continue to be security on site once the school is closed. Still, neighbors are concerned.

More than 50 Concordia students joined a class action lawsuit against the university claiming they were misled about the university’s financial status and want refunds on their tuition.

On Thursday morning, students staged a walkout and said they want the university to reveal their financial records and prove where the money has gone and why the decision to close was made.

“We’re asking for transparency and the finanacial records and more of their meeting transcripts, because they’re trying to hide all of that,” said sophomore Kayla Humphrey. “You don’t close a school overnight — that is not a decision you make in a week.

“This is something that’s been a long time coming, but they lied to everyone.”

Several Oregon schools are reaching out to students and offering them transfer options and scholarships.

The last commencement ceremony is set for April 25 for the Portland campus and May 2 for the Concordia University School of Law.

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