The Developers Collaborative is proposing a $19 million homeless services center, shown in this rendering. The proposal calls for a bus shelter on Riverside Street, a raised garden and benches, as well as a grassy courtyard with a stage and a reading tree. Rendering courtesy of The Developers Collaborative

The city of Portland is expected to select a local firm to develop a new, 200-bed homeless service center on Riverside Street.

Members of the City Council’s Housing & Economic Development Committee will discuss at a meeting Tuesday a staff recommendation to hire Developers Collaborative, which scored highest among three development proposals, the city said in a news release Friday.

Staff noted Developers Collaborative’s “extensive local experience with redevelopment of former public and private properties, its creative site design and modular type facility construction, and its proven ability to navigate challenging neighborhood and publicly controversial development projects.”

If the council signs off, the city would enter into an agreement with the firm to construct, own and manage the homeless service center that could cost $20 million before it’s completed.

Greg Mitchell, the city’s economic development director, said the staff recommendation to the committee was based on the creativity of the proposal and the developer’s experience navigating the city’s development review process and track record in dealing with neighborhood concerns.

“The Developers Collaborative really has superior and extensive local knowledge and experience with both former city properties like the Reed School and the Nathan Clifford School, but also private development projects that have been challenging from an overall neighborhood opposition perspective,” Mitchell said. “We thought they were the right team to engage for this project.”


Developers Collaborative was founded in 2007 by Kevin Bunker and Richard Berman. In addition to developing the former schools, the firm has managed major housing projects in Lewiston and Auburn, and developed The Motherhouse at Baxter Woods, turning a former convent into 88 senior living apartments.

Even as the city moves forward on the shelter, residents in the Riverton neighborhood continue to oppose the project. A group is currently collecting signatures for a citywide referendum that would limit new shelters to 50 beds – a proposal meant to derail the city’s plans. Petitioners have until July 11 to collect 1,500 signatures from registered voters for their measure to be placed on the November ballot.

The city has been working on plans to replace the aging and cramped Oxford Street Shelter for the last five years, much of it marked by controversy and not-in-my-backyard opposition.

After a lengthy search for a viable location, the city approved in June 2019 the creation of new shelter on city-owned property at 654 Riverside St.

The original cost estimates for a new shelter were in the $8-10 million range four years ago, but increased construction costs and the need to increase the size of the facility due to pandemic restrictions has driven the overall costs to roughly $20 million, which will be paid for through private funding and then leased back to the city over a 20-year period.

Staff Writer Randy Billings contributed to this story 

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