Local architect and homeless advocate questions legitimacy of offer to purchase unused jail for distribution center.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The unused Wapato Jail in North Portland.The offer for the unused Wapato Jail is $10.8 million, Multnomah County told the Portland Tribune on Tuesday morning.

Although the Multnomah County Commission is scheduled to vote on the sale Thursday, the county had not previously revealed the price being offered by Kehoe Properties Northwest, a local real estate development firm.

The county has still not released the full sales agreement. The Oregonian has reported the firm plans to use the jail as a medical equipment distribution center. But local architect and homeless advocate Stuart Emmons has questioned the legitimacy of any offer over $6 million for the jail, which he says is best suited as a homeless shelter and treatment center.

"The building is highly specialized and is only suitable as a minimum security jail or shelter for people experiencing homelessness or addictions. The building has approximately one loading dock. The building has many small spaces, doors and elevators that are inappropriate for forklift or material distribution or storage. I've toured the Wapato facility. As an architect familiar with distribution and storage facilities, it is impossible to fathom that this facility could in any way be an efficient distribution and storage facility without full demolition or massive demolition and rebuild," Emmons wrote in a Monday letter to the commission urging them to delay the vote on the sale.

According to the letter, the Wapato land was valued $4,663,510 in 2016. Demolishing the structure would cost up to $2 million, reducing the real value of the property by that amount.

"This deal is highly suspect. This is a facility paid for by Multnomah County taxpayers and we deserve a full analysis of the deal that the County has rushed into, apparently without a full understanding of the long term implications. Is the potential buyer, paying pennies on the dollar for the facility in the first place, merely trying to increase the perceived value of Wapato so he can realize higher downstream profits off of a County facility?" Emmons wrote.

You can read Emmons' letter at

To read a previous Portland Tribune story on the proposed sale, go to

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