Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman would like to turn a portion of vacant city property in industrial Northwest Portland into a long-term shelter for homeless men and women.

The property, Terminal 1 at 2400 NW Front Ave., served as a staging ground for the manufacturing of pipe segments during Portland's Big Pipe sewer project until 2011.

Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services still owns the 15-acre site but no longer uses it.

The city is crunching numbers to see how much it might cost to convert part of the property without tapping any money from sewer ratepayers.  If the city moved forward, it would need to rezone the land from its current industrial designation.

"I'm very interested in exploring the possibility of the Housing Bureau leasing a portion of Terminal 1," says Saltzman, who manages the Housing Bureau.

He faces an immediate obstacle.

Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Bureau of Environmental Services, is having none of it. BES and the Portland Water Bureau have been under tremendous scrutiny in recent years over the spending of utility funds. Fish wants to sell the property and direct the earnings to ratepayers.

"It is a nonstarter, because it's industrial land that we intend to sell and return the profits to the ratepayers," says Fish. "Period."