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Historic building won't be demolished, county officials say. Will remain a courthouse for two years.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - Multnomah County's downtown courthouse will be sold under an agreement announced Monday, Sept. 17.The Multnoman County board is poised to sign off on a sale of its historic downtown courthouse for $28 million.

The deal, which is headed for consideration by the board of commissioners on Thursday, seeks to take advantage of low vacancy rates and a hot market downtown, after using a hired real estate firm, CBRE, to promote the property and solicit offers.

But the county's new courthouse won't be open until June 2020, so the deal includes a lease-back arrangement that will let the county continue to use the building, at 1021 S.W. Fourth Ave, to hear cases.

It appears that the historic building, which was built more than a century ago, won't be demolished. Rather, it will be renovated and repurposed, likely for offices. The purchaser, NBP Capital, LLC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The county had received a significant amount of interest in touring the building, causing some to hope that the property could fetch a healthy sum — potentially even exceeding its assessed value of $41 million. Possibilities included a hotel, condos or office space.

The building garnered signicantly less than that figure. That is likely because despite a desirable location and historic facade, the building is in need of substantial seismic upgrades.

"The assessed value doesn't take into account the cost to renovate the building and bring it up to seismic code," said county spokesman Mike Pullen.

The deal's lease-back includes free rent to the county for two years, though the county will continue to pay for maintenance and operations.

NBP was founded by two Portland siblings, Lauren Noecker Robert and Spencer Noecker. It is reportedly majority-owned by a New York investment firm for philanthropist Nicolas Berggruen.

The county did not conduct its own appraisal, instead letting the market set the price.

"The team at the county that worked on this is pretty happy with the proposed sale price," said Pullen. "We're also happy that the new buyer wants to preserve the structure."


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