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May 4th, 2005 Zach Dundas | News Stories
 

WEB EXTRA - Beam Files Bridgehead Appeal

Developer will fight controversial PDC vote.

     
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Brad Malsin, the losing developer in last week's Portland Development Commission vote on the quarter-billion-dollar Burnside Bridgehead project, filed an appeal of that decision Wednesday afternoon.

The appeal challenges the five-member commission's unanimous vote to give the job of rebuilding five blocks at the Burnside Bridge's east end to Opus Northwest, a Minneapolis-based developer.

Among other issues, Malsin's appeal claims that PDC commissioners did not properly disclose conflicts of interest and violated public-meetings law by conducting private deliberations on their decision.

PDC rules governing the Bridgehead bidding process leave it up to executive director Don Mazziotti to decide if Malsin's appeal has merit. (It's unclear whether Mazziotti's decision is subject to any kind of review.) The filing appears to halt PDC's negotiations with Opus on project specifics, at least temporarily.

Malsin's company, Beam Development, is based in the Bridgehead's Central Eastside neighborhood. Beam's proposal for the site got popular support with its emphasis on creative industry and flexible, industrial-style work space.

But commissioners decided Opus Northwest's proposal-which promises to require a smaller public subsidy-presented less financial risk.

The vote infuriated Beam supporters, who dominated most of the PDC's long series of Bridgehead hearings.

Malsin was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.

On learning of the appeal, Bruce Wood, who leads Opus Northwest's Bridgehead team, said, "It doesn't really involve us. We're going to move forward. Brad had a right to file a protest, but we've already rolled up our sleeves."

The Bridgehead project first sparked controversy when both Opus Northwest and Gerding/Edlen, the third developer that bid for the project, proposed big-box home-renovation stores for the site. Beam countered with plans for hundreds of artists' lofts and affordable retail and commercial space. Both Opus and Gerding/Edlen then eliminated big-box retail from their proposals.

 
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