Multnomah County OKs $10.8M sale of Wapato Jail

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PORTLAND — Multnomah County commissioners approved the $10.8 million sale of the long-empty Wapato Jail and earmarked the proceeds for affordable housing. The sale represents a loss of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to sell the property to Kehoe Northwest Properties. The lone “no” vote came from Commissioner Loretta Smith, who said the facility should house a homeless shelter or offer related services. Current zoning prohibits the use of the building as a shelter.

The county received six proposals by its Oct. 20 deadline. One was immediately withdrawn, and only two of the remaining bidders submitted “best and final” offers. Of those, county officials chose Kehoe.

Portland developer Marty Kehoe has said that he plans to convert the 155,400-square-foot facility into a distribution and storage space for a medical equipment company.

Wapato Jail sits on 18.24 acres in Portland’s Rivergate Industrial Park and has long been a thorn in the county’s side.

The county spent $58 million to construct the jail in 2004 and another $300,000 a year to maintain it. The facility was never used as a jail.