Wednesday, December 4, 2013
By Randy Billings firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND – The remaining residents living in low-income rental units in the Eastland Park Hotel have 90 days to move out to allow a major renovation that could include a new ballroom in Congress Plaza to move forward.
In this November 2011 file photo, the Eastland Park Hotel rises above Congress Plaza at the corner of High and Congress streets.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
Eviction notices were sent to residents on June 25. As of earlier this month, there were about 12 tenants still living in the hotel, according to City Hall Spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.
The eviction notices did not come as a surprise, since the hotel owners, Ohio-based investment group RockBridge Capital, have been upfront about converting about 50 low-income apartments into hotel guest rooms under the Westin Hotel name.
The conversion of the apartments to guest rooms was controversial last year. The city currently has a housing-replacement ordinance requiring developers to pay $50,000 for every unit of housing converted into another use.
But the ordinance contained a loophole that allowed RockBridge to avoid paying $2.5 million in fees. That loophole has since been tightened.
As a concession to the city, RockBridge agreed to pay up to $2,500 to each leaseholder to assist in relocation costs. The hotel is also donating its old furniture to Catholic Charities, Clegg said.
That may be cold comfort to residents, who will not get their payments in time to help secure a new home.
Residents may pick up their $2,500 five days after they move out. “Provided that you fully comply with this notice, you can pick up your $2,500 check at the front desk of the hotel five days thereafter,” the letter says.
The hotel could close during the 10-12 month renovation, estimated to cost more than $35 million. RockBridge Capital bought the 241-room hotel, which opened in 1927, for $6.9 million.