The city of Portland has received three proposals related to the planned 200-bed homeless services center on Riverside Street.

Two bids to build the center and then to eventually lease it back to the city came in at $19.2 million and $18.7 million, while the third proposal urged the city to take a different approach to the project all together. The two with price tags attached would result in annual lease payments of about $1.5 million and $1.1 million, respectively, up significantly from the $400,000 yearly payment the city estimated four years ago when the planning for the project got off the ground.

City Communications Director Jessica Grondin said the city plans to “publicly discuss the proposals and staff recommendations about next steps” at a May 18 meeting of the Housing and Economic Development Committee.

The $19.2 million proposal from Developers Collaborative in Portland, run by Kevin Bunker and Drew Sigfridson, calls for a roughly 50,000-square-foot facility, with 16,800 square feet of sleeping space and 144 beds for men, and 8,400 square feet of sleeping space and 60 beds for women. It also includes a offices for social and medical services and a 200-seat dining room. Outside, there is potential for an open air sleeping pavilion, a stage, reading area and exercise track, the developers said. Space would be set aside for future transitional housing. The exact design would be determined through a public process.

“It is clear that the new Homeless Service Center is urgently needed, and time is of the essence to design and construct the facility as soon as possible,” Developers Collaborative wrote in its proposal. “It is equally important that the building is well-conceived and the result of a rigorous design process that has considered the needs of the stakeholders and those that it seeks to serve. We will establish a well-defined design process with ample opportunity to hear all voices, build consensus, and make decisions promptly.”

Since 2009, the firm has developed 34 housing projects including nine in Portland and is currently developing the Stevens Square complex on Stevens Avenue.

Developers Collaborative said foundation work on the shelter could begin in February 2022, with the structure complete by June 2022. The building would be ready for the city to occupy by the winter of 2022-2023.

Under Developers Collaborative’s proposal, the firm and the city would enter a 50-year lease and the city would pay rent and operating expenses. The city would have the opportunity to purchase the building at year 20 for $1. Based on the proposed, $19.2 million cost to construct the building, the lease rate would be $1.47 million annually.

An $18.7 million FD Stonewater proposal does not lay as clear of a vision as Developers Collaborative’s, but says out that “prior to beginning the planning process, the team will kick off the project with an introductory session with the key City stakeholders and service providers, as identified by the City, to align our understanding of the project with that of the City.”

Virginia-based Stonewater, which has several government projects underway, including the 70,000-square-foot outpatient clinic for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on West Commercial Street in Portland, proposes a 30-year lease with the city, with the annual lease being around $1.1 million. Upon completion of the lease the city could purchase the building for $1. The firm estimates it would cost $18.7 million to build the 50,000 square-foot-building.

In its proposal, Fuego Blue, a real estate and hospitality company at 874 Riverside St. run by Margaret Edelstein and Ronald Gan, urges the city to rethink the plan.

“Previous discussions about the location of the homeless shelter pitted the ideas of one large shelter versus numerous smaller facilities. The main issues were financial and operational. Now, in light of the pandemic, not only are dormitory style shelters a dangerous congregant living environment but funding has completely changed. In this new climate we will have to go to the world of both public and private money. We now have the opportunity to design a better project.”

The Riverside Street site could accommodate, as a start, more than 100 housing units, each with its own bath, kitchen, washer and dryer, and heat and air conditioning, Fuego Blue said. A zoning change, however, would be needed.

“We are proposing that the city become the lead developer in spurring the creation of 1,000 housing units along the Riverside Corridor,” the company wrote in its submittal. “There is over 2 million square feet of underutilized land along Riverside Street. This includes not only the shelter land at 654 but the three other city owned parcels in the neighborhood: The old trolley park, the 3-hole golf course and the abandoned driving range.”

The housing could include 400 units of what Fuego Blue called “gap housing” for seniors, transitional housing, workforce, families, teachers and municipal workers.

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