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Monday, June 23, 2014

Portland's Urban Renewal Agency Has a Deal in Place to Purchase Right 2 Dream Too's Old Town Lot

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Another looming shoe seems ready to drop in the long-running saga over Right 2 Dream Too's quest to trade its land on NW 4th and Burnside for a more permanent home.

According to city documents (pdf) obtained by the Mercury, the Portland Development Commission will vote as soon as this Wednesday on a tentative deal to purchase the rest area's site from its current landlords, a group led by longtime city foil and adult businessman Michael Wright. The negotiated price is $1.2 million—about what an appraisal of the land found last fall, when sales talks suddenly got hot.

The deal, as listed in documents laying out the proposed sale, also directly addresses the status of Right 2 Dream Too, a rest area/tent shelter and community for advocates for the homeless. The PDC will wait to find a new home for R2DToo—paying Wright an additional $300,000, based on $10,000 a month for up to 30 months, before officially closing the sale. The expectation is Wright will negotiate with R2DToo and "other interested parties," ostensibly including Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Charlie Hales.

The Property is currently occupied by the Right-to-Dream-Too camp (R2D2). There have been active conversations between the City of Portland (City) and R2D2, including an action by the Portland City Council in February 2014 approving a settlement deal which directed $846,000 to R2D2 to help them find a new and more permanent home. The PDC Board of Commissioners (Board) took action on February 12, 2014, authorizing the execution of a PSA with Pearl Hotel Investors, LLC, for the conveyance of Station Place Lot 7 contingent upon that separate City agreement referenced above. The contemplated transaction includes a 30 month option period designed to allow for PDC to conduct due diligence on the Property, provide PDC time to evaluate development options prior to taking title, and to provide time for the Owners, R2D2, and other partners and stakeholders to identify a new home for R2D2.

But from there it gets tricky. Wright will have to give back that $300,000 if the 30 months expire and R2DToo is still on the land, giving him some motivation to help move the rest area. But if that happens, the PDC might agree to continue delaying the sale or cancel the agreement outright. Right 2 Dream Too has $846,000 available—thanks to a deal with Pearl District developers who didn't want them moving beneath a Broadway Bridge off-ramp—to eventually find a new home.

A message left with Wright has not been returned. Wright used to run an adult bookstore on the land, but it was torn down amid a code fight with former City Commissioner Randy Leonard. He initially hosted Right 2 Dream Too to poke at city hall.

The agreement is seen as a linchpin in the PDC's and Hales' efforts to promote Old Town as a destination for tech businesses and workforce housing—and build up the area's many, many vacant lots. PDC says it will take the 30 months to ponder a good use for the property, potentially marquee location on one of Portland's busiest streets.

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