The Multnomah County Commission voted today to sell the long-empty Wapato Jail to a local development company for $10.8 million, despite opposition from advocates who wanted the massive building to be used as a homeless shelter.
Kehoe Northwest Properties, owned by real-estate developer Marty Kehoe, has agreed to buy the property to convert it into a medical-supply distribution center. The Wapato Jail, built in 2003, has been empty since construction finished.
Advocates urged the county not to sell the property. Instead, they asked that the campus be repurposed as a homeless shelter. But a majority of the commission agreed that zoning regulations, a lack of public transit and the jail's distance from existing service providers would have made it difficult to successfully turn the unoccupied jail into an effective shelter. The vote was four to one, with the dissenting vote from Commissioner Loretta Smith.
Several previous attempts to buy the property from the county have fallen apart before being formally approved. Kehoe still has a 60-day window to inspect the property before the deal is finalized.