PORTLAND, Ore. — Back in September, Jordan Schnitzer first said that the Wapato Detention Facility that he'd acquired in April was getting too expensive to just sit on. If supporters of utilizing the never-used jail as a center for the homeless couldn't come up with a funding plan, he said, he'd likely have to tear it down and build something new.
That appears to be the track Schnitzer is headed on now.
A permit has been filed to demolish the 155,400-square foot facility, which Schnitzer acquired in April for $5 million.
The permit lists the owner as N. Bybee Lake Court LLC, which is linked to Schnitzer's Harsch Investment Properties. The applicant is listed as VLMK Engineering + Design, a Portland engineering and design firm. The permit was signed by the owner and applicant on Nov. 1 and Oct. 29, respectively. The permit value is $1 million.
It's not clear how soon the facility could be demolished.
"That shouldn't scare anyone," Schnitzer said of filing for the demolition permit. "Nothing's going to happen overnight."
Schnitzer told the Business Journal in September that it was costing him about $50,000 a month to hold and maintain Wapato.
"I've said to everyone we bought this for the land value, and if we can't figure out a program that benefits some segment of people in need, then we'll tear it down and build a warehouse," Schnitzer told KGW.
Soon after Schnitzer bought the jail, he gave several tours to various nonprofits, including Volunteers of America Oregon and the Homer Williams-led Oregon Harbor of Hope, the latter of which considered using it as a center for homeless services.
Washington's Clark County also sized up the facility as a potential home for some of its prisoners, but that prospect hasn't moved forward.
But Schnitzer said a "major press conference" regarding the property is probably coming in a week or two. Schnitzer said he can't share details yet, but the vision includes working with at least three community organizations to create a joint, transitional housing facility focused on education, outreach and care.
"If we can pull this off, they're all public entities, it would be a regional if not national model," he said.
And if the vision doesn't come to fruition, Schnitzer said at least he won't look back with regret.
"I think if this one doesn't work, then yes, we probably will be getting that sledgehammer and beginning to tear it down. But I'm optimistic," he said.
Portland Business Journal is a KGW News partner.