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Neighbors react to U of O facility opening on former Concordia University campus

The University of Oregon plans to open the Ballmer Institute for Children's Behavioral Health at the old Concordia University campus in Northeast Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — It's been just over two years since the sudden and dramatic closure of Concordia University in Northeast Portland.

Since then, the campus has sat dormant while some legal drama played out involving the Lutheran church's handling of the shutdown.

With a sale pending, the campus will reopen as soon as next fall as the University of Oregon’s Ballmer Institute for Children's Behavioral Health. The institute is opening thanks to a $425 million donation from former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie.

The former Concordia campus will become an education center to train mental health professionals, focused on children.

“We’re very excited obviously to have this investment in our neighborhood and the stewardship of U of O over this property," said Concordia Neighborhood Association chair Peter Keller. 

RELATED: U of O announces launch of Ballmer Institute for Children's Behavioral Health

Keller said he's happy that education for a good cause is returning to the beautiful Northeast Portland campus.

Neighbors had concerns it might not go this way.

“I’m surprised that it turned out this good; there were lots of rumors about crazy stuff happening, but the worst would have been if they decided to tear it down and put in a Walmart,” said Patricia Cunningham, who lives near the campus.

The UO-Concordia deal is pending approval by the school's board of trustees this month.

Eventually, the plan is to move other classes and operations from the UO's downtown facility in the White Stag building.

RELATED: Concordia University closure leaves 5,000 students in shock, 1,500 employees laid off

Keller is in favor of all of it.

“It’s a huge investment and bright future for our neighborhood… and I just think of all the great energy it’s going to bring with these young educators and students."

Additionally, Keller said he's been told that the large playing fields on campus will remain as an asset for the community.

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