PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The frustrated owner of North Portland's never-used Wapato Jail has announced he will bulldoze the facility unless someone comes up with funding to convert the facility into a homeless shelter in the next two weeks.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Jordan Schnitzer, president of Harsch Investment Properties, said Thursday he planned to sign a demolition contract by the month's end. Assuming no last minute stakeholder steps in, Schnitzer said his company will break ground on a new warehouse there by spring.
Schnitzer said he was "sickened" that a year-and-a half-long quest to convert the 150,000-square foot jail into a shelter would end with the facility reduced to rubble.
But city leaders, along with local nonprofits, had been reticent to place people lacking shelter in adapted jail cells 11 miles away from Portland's downtown core. Schnitzer said he needed their buy-in to forge ahead with the plan.
Multnomah County finished the $58 million jail in 2004, but never came up with the money to operate it. The county sold the facility in 2018 to developer Marty Kehoe, who in turn sold it to Schnitzer.