Portland may have found a new market for its toilet exports: Seattle.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn declared on Tuesday that Seattle is looking at the possibility of buying a $90,000 Portland Loo for its downtown Pioneer Square neighborhood—and may buy more loos later.
Seattle, a city that famously failed in its own public-restroom experiment by installing five $1 million self-cleaning toilets that didn't work, hopes to use a land developer's money to buy a Portland Loo and place it next to a parking garage.
Portland has been selling its patented loo for three years in an effort to raise money for the $87,000 annual cost of cleaning the six it has already installed. Crucially, McGinn says Seattle has identified a private funding source that Portland doesn't have: money to clean the loo.
"Much progress has been made – SDOT traffic has approved the site, Seattle Public Utilities has located water and waste water infrastructure nearby and the Pioneer Square Preservation Board is supportive of the Loo facility and the proposed location," McGinn writes. "Most importantly, we have identified non-City sources of funding for both installation and maintenance of the facility."
McGinn says a real-estate developer will pay those costs in exchange for immunity from Seattle city rules about a nearby building's height.
A sale to Seattle would mean the third loo that Bureau of Environmental Services project coordinator Anne Peterson has sold this year, bringing the total sales since 2010 to four. A two-loo deal with San Diego has been delayed by questions about how the city would clean the commodes, and talks with Cincinnati have broken down over cleaning costs.
As WW reported in this week's cover story about how Portland began a campaign to sell former City Commissioner Randy Leonard's patented street toilet, the city would need to sell eight loos a year to break even on the loo project as it's currently structured.
If uptight Seattleites want to know about the luxury toilet they might soon be enjoying, WW news intern Sara Sneath has created this comprehensive video tour:
video by Sara Sneath