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Friday, September 10, 2010

More Details on the 'Made in Oregon' Deal

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 2:27 PM

When the city finally takes possession of the "Made in Oregon" sign, part of deal that comes to City Council for the first time next week, you'll hear lots of people call it a "donation."

And while that's technically true, it seems that "donation" also will cost the city. Like, say, $240,000. One of the conditions laid down by the sign's owner, Darryl Paulsen of Ramsay Signs, is that Portland give his firm $2,000 a month to service the sign over the next 10 years.

That's somewhat above market, officials say, but well... Paulsen's sign, Paulsen's terms, etc. And, they say, it's the price of placing an icon under the public's dominion.

But it can be argued that even $240,000 is something of a sweetheart deal: Paulsen at one point estimated the sign's value at $1 million, and the University of Oregon was attempting to buy it for more than $500,000, not including the $200,000 it will cost to change the wording or utility costs.

The pricey service contract was just one of the deal points that emerged this week. Read a cheat-sheet that breaks things down here.

Also, in the city's case, the owner of the building the sign sits upon, Art DeMuro, is offering to pay for the change to "Portland, Oregon." (DeMuro also is charging the city only $1 annually to lease an easement for the sign on his roof, with the easement transferring to city control permanently after seven years.)

As has been mentioned, the city will lease retail space and a parking lot under the Burnside Bridge to DeMuro. The deal reached this week calls for DeMuro to pay $34,150 a year, cash the city will use to pay the maintenance contract. The Portland Development Commission is giving the retail space to the city, and the parking lot hadn't previously been tapped as a revenue source. Officials hope to draw more shoppers and walkers to the area, as a side benefit of the deal.

Other terms set by Paulsen: Ramsay's name will remain on the sign. Ramsay will be allowed to place a banner on the sign from November 2011 to January 2012 to mark its centennial. Paulsen and Ramsay may both use the sign in their advertisements, and the city agrees to not to sell naming rights or place any ads on the sign.

The council's first discussion is planned for 9:30 AM Wednesday, and a deal could be approved by the end of the month. That would give Ramsay enough time to switch the words and turn on Rudolph's red nose by Thanksgiving.

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