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Portland baseball group plans to build 8,000-unit apartment complex next to stadium

Is there sufficient real estate on either of the sites to make their vision a reality? And would it help solve Portland's housing crisis?

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Diamond Project, the local management group trying to bring an MLB team to Portland, has big plans beyond just a baseball stadium.

The group made two formal offers on large parcels of land in Portland, on which they plan to build not just a stadium, but also a massive, 8,000-unit apartment complex.

Related: Portland group makes offers on 2 sites for MLB stadium

But how would that work exactly? It would easily be the largest apartment complex in Portland, equivalent to slapping 30 copies of The Civic building on Burnside together. The logistics are dizzying. Is there sufficient real estate on either of the sites to make their vision a reality? And would it help solve Portland’s housing crisis?

Interactive Map: The Civic building on Burnside

The map above shows the Civic building on West Burnside in Portland. Imagine 30 of these. That's how large the 8,000-unit apartment complex proposed by the Portland Diamond Project would be.

The first site is the Portland Public Schools administration’s headquarters on North Dixon Street, two blocks from the Moda Center. KGW sports commentator and Oregonian columnist John Canzano reports Portland Diamond Project's offer for the site is $80 million.

The second site is the industrial site currently owned by ESCO Corporation, on Northwest 25th Avenue and Vaughn Street in Slabtown.

Craig Cheek, a retired Nike executive who is leading the project, said an economic study commissioned by PDP shows that both sites are able to house both a stadium as well as the housing structure.

“Both districts have ample room for multifamily development, which can help alleviate Portland’s housing crisis,” Cheek said. “We’re planning to pave the way for 8,000 new workforce and market-rate apartments to create a vibrant, walkable community around the facility, wherever it ultimately lands.”

Gerard Mildner, an associate professor of real estate finance at Portland State University, said he believes both sites could work as a location for both a ballpark and a mixed-use development.

"[The PPS headquarters site has] good access into downtown, it's located off Broadway," he said. "It's close to a development that's already happening in the Lloyd District or up on top of the cliff with the Mississippi development area. So I think that has housing potential as well."

The ESCO site could also work, Mildner said, but he said there are other concerns.

"It's main issue right now is environmental," he said. "There's just a lot of dirty, dirty ground after many years of operating ESCO."

ESCO is an industrial manufacturing company that produces metal for mining, construction and other applications.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who met with PDP representatives in January, weighed in with a statement about the PDP project on Tuesday night.

“It’s easy to see why Portland would be an attractive option for Major League Baseball. We’re a growing media market with a booming economy and a rich history of local baseball. But any path that leads from today to Opening Day is a long one," he said. "My focus continues to be on addressing our city’s immediate challenges - creating more housing, helping those experiencing homelessness, and maintaining a safe livable city. It’s my belief that city resources should be directed to these priorities. We will continue to watch the Portland Diamond Project proposal as it develops."

On Wednesday morning, the day after news broke about the Portland Diamond Project, Wheeler posted a video to Twitter. The video was a clip from his April 12 State of the City speech addressing the city's progress in dealing with its housing crisis.

Mike Barrett, a managing partner and spokesperson for Portland Diamond Project, said the group respects what Wheeler said about focusing on priorities like the housing crisis. He said they believe they can be a partner with the city in helping address those concerns.

"We want it to be something that just isn't a ballpark," he said. "This is going to be a district, and that's what we want it to be. If we can do this to help the city address some of the challenges it's facing, and have, oh by the way, a ballpark at the same time in this district, that would be a home run."

Related: Full transcript of interview with Mike Barrett

Barrett also said the group's focus is on workforce housing, which means the housing would help serve individual or families who make between 50 and 120 percent of the city's median income. Portland median income for a family of four in 2017 was $74,700.

"Workforce housing is what we’ve talked about a lot, because I know that when you start saying housing, people think high-rise, $2 million condos," he said. "We’re being very careful in how we do this, we don’t want that. There will be, certainly, some of that. ... [But] if we can capture some of [Portland's culture] in the ballpark, while addressing som of the needs of the city, and not do it at the expense of something else, that's what we're trying to do. I know that's a tough target to hit, but that's what we're trying to do."

You can reach Jared Cowley on Twitter at twitter.com/jaredcowley. You can reach Pat Dooris on Twitter at twitter.com/patdooris.

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