PORTLAND, Ore. — The Sugar Shack, once a strip club in Northeast Portland, is getting demolished.
Discarded cheetah print fabric on the ground near the front door hints at a past many would like to forget.
"It's a big milestone for us to take that place down,” explained Ernesto Fonseca, the chief executive officer for Hacienda Community Development Corporation.
Hacienda CDC is planning to build affordable housing units on the property where the Sugar Shack stands now.
People who live in the Cully neighborhood said this was a long time coming and they are ready to erase the things the building stood for.
“The issues that the Sugar Shack brought were not contained to the building itself,” Fonseca said. “It was prostitution, drug addiction, sell, trade within all of these communities. So, it wasn't just isolated to that very place. It was spilling over for decades."
The owner of the Sugar Shack was convicted of running a prostitution ring. Neighbors who got a tour of the building after it closed said it was heartbreaking to think about what went on inside.
“It hurts your heart to go in and see what that place was like and the way it was used and how women were abused there,” said David Sweet with the Cully Neighborhood Association.
In 2014, several neighborhood groups banded together to buy the property for $2.3 million dollars. Then in October, Hacienda CDC bought it from the other group members and now plans to build affordable housing in its place. Demolition begins on Monday.
"It is an exciting moment,” Fonseca said. “I think that most people are looking forward to see something new, to see something that really erases, to some extent, the memories of those places that really cause so many issues."
The new building will have 140 apartment units, along with a community space where kids can play basketball. The affordable housing will bring a change to the neighborhood many have been waiting for.
“It's great to see it finally coming down. This was a long time community effort,” Sweet said.
The new apartment building will be named “Las Adelitas,” which was an organization of women who fought during the Mexican Revolution. That name was chosen to honor the women who were abused on the property in the past.