Forum Aims To Keep Stalled Centennial Mills Project Alive

Dated: January 20 2016

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This past fall, despite some fairly extensive legwork, several public meetings and a general sense that one of the city's long-dormant redevelopment opportunities might finally kick off, the Portland Development Commission put the kibosh on the latest plans for Centennial Mills, or at least the public's financial involvement in it.

In a letter to Jordan Schnitzer, president of Harsch InvestmentProperties, in November, PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton said that changes in budget, development options and the overall landscape had changed significantly and rendered the initial plans for redevelopment "no longer practical."

Schnitzer and others, however, aren't ready to abandon the project. In a public presentation scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 21, at Pure Space in Northwest Portland, Schnitzer will team up with Patricia Gardner, president of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association, and noted historian Chet Orloff to talk about the potential development scenarios for the Centennial Mills site.

In an announcement from Harsch about the discussion, the company reiterated the need for public funding and participation in the project. From the announcement:

"The need for political vision and leadership is imperative as Portland struggles to maintain and restore our treasured historical sites. Public contribution and participation to drive that vision is an essential component to the ethos of what makes Portland one of the most desirable places to live in the county."

Though nothing had ever been solidified, Schnitzer, who invested at least $1.4 million to explore development options, had proposed a $115.7 million project that would preserve two of the existing 12 structures of the old mill while adding 24,000 square feet of retail space, 80,000 square feet of office space and 120,000 square feet of residential space. The ambitious project would have required about $38.5 million in public money on top of Harsch's $77 million.

PDC, which recently approved the $88 million purchase of the U.S. Post Office property in the Pearl District, approved plans earlier this to begin selective demolition of much of the Centennial Mills site, work that is expected to wrap up this year.


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Mark Ross

For Mark Ross, founder of Ross NW Real Estate and professional real estate broker, real estate has always been the career of choice. During his 30 years in the industry, Mark has gained experience in ....

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