Multnomah County To Buy 55 Percent Of Jefferson Station But Not The Veritable Quandary

Dated: August 28 2015

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Multnomah County will be its own neighbor once it builds a $250 million courthouse at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge.

That's because on Thursday commissioners approved the purchase of five units of the Jefferson Station Condominiums, an office building that sits next to the construction site. The combined $5.6 million purchase does not include the Veritable Quandary restaurant, and it does mean the county has taken ownership of more than half of the building.

The total price tag translates to about $422 per square foot, said Ken Elliott, assistant county attorney. The units ranged from $600,000 to $2.1 million for space on the top floor, he said. It's a historically registered building with nine total units.

"Units for commercial use, like these, are at a much higher price than residential because ... they've been renovated, and they're nice spaces," County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury said, "and the locations of them in downtown Portland as office units means that the cost is higher for purchase than if they were residential."

Once the purchases close, the county will own 10,988 square feet of the 19,882 in the building at 1230 S.W. First Ave.

"The closings would be scheduled to accommodate each individual seller's move-out schedule with one as soon as mid-September and a second one toward the end of September, which has the benefit of creating space for our architectural and construction management teams to begin to move into the building," Elliott said.

Records show the space will be used for courthouse purposes in order to get the state to split the cost of the purchase.

"The Jefferson Station acquisition costs will qualify for the state's 50 percent match, so long as the property is incorporated into the courthouse project," according to meeting records given to commissioners Thursday.

With county and state employees moving out of the existing courthouse on Southwest Fourth Avenue once the new courthouse is built, not everyone will fit into the new building, such as the District Attorney's Office and traffic courts. The issue was discussed during public meetings when commissioners were deliberating about the location of project earlier this year.

The county is still working to decide who will use the space after construction, which should be complete in 2020, said Mike Pullen, spokesperson.

With the purchases, the county will belong to the Jefferson Station's owners association, Pullen said. That includes Denny King, owner of the Veritable Quandary, and one other owner. King has not responded to a message left for him at his restaurant Friday morning.

King, in December, said he was worried his restaurant would go out of business because of the multi-year construction project just feet away from his doors. His concern generated an outpouring of support for his decades-long business.

Then in April when commissioners voted to choose the project location, King indicated he would weather the construction storm.

The county is replacing its century-old courthouse on Southwest Fourth Avenue because the building would crumble after a significant earthquake, officials have said. There's no word on the county's plan for the historic courthouse.

Construction for the new courthouse should begin in 2017.


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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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