California real estate developers have offered $10 million to buy a Multnomah County jail that cost taxpayers $58 million to build but has only been used in film and TV shoots.
The county is trying to sell Wapato Jail so it doesn’t have to pay the maintenance costs, estimated at $300,000 a year.
County spokeswoman Julie Sullivan-Springhetti says the county is pleased to get an offer on the building.
“We’re going to consider any offer above the appraised value which is $8.5 million. We need to do that. This is an albatross which has been around this community’s neck since 2004,” she said.
The California company, Pacific Development Partners, has a mix of apartments, strip malls and banks in its portfolio and a $24.5 million line of credit, according to documents it submitted along with its offer.
The company’s offer letter did not specify what it wants to do with the jail.
Springhetti says the county needs more information to decide if the offer is viable.
Residential and retail developments on the site are restricted by Portland’s zoning code and by agreements with the Port of Portland, which previously owned the land.
The county has been burned by people offering to buy the property in the past. In 2o16, the Portland Tribune reported that a person the county was negotiating with over a potential sale had no history as a real estate developer and had also proposed putting wind turbines at the Statue of Liberty.
The Multnomah County Commission will need to vote to approve any sale of the property and hold a public hearing.
“The public will get a chance to weigh in,” said Sullivan-Springhetti.
At least one county commissioner has opposed selling Wapato in the past. Commissioner Loretta Smith pushed her fellow commissioners to consider opening the building as a homeless shelter, a plan county operations staff said would have cost roughly $1 million. A majority of the commissioners opposed that plan.