August 27th, 2014 9:50 am | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Business

Assurety NW, an Urban-Renewal Success Story, Will Leave Lents

lede_4012(chevron)THE CHEVRON: The PDC bought these properties and tore down their buildings—a drapery outlet and a strip club—to make way for a grocery store that hasn’t arrived, in part because the city can’t get the owners of a gas station (left, behind the tree branches) to sell. - IMAGE: Inger Klekacz

The East Portland neighborhood of Lents is losing one of its few success stories from 15 years of urban renewal.

The Portland Development Commission has poured more than $96 million into Lents since 1998. As WW reported in January, that money has resulted in little commercial revitalization.

The PDC did recruit insurance agency Assurety NW in 2007 to relocate its corporate headquarters from Gresham to an office-and-retail development at Southeast 89th Avenue and Foster Road.

The urban renewal agency gave Assurety NW at least $1.5 million in loans and $300,000 in grants. The commercial insurer spent $5 million on the office development, and brought Lents more than 50 jobs.

But as WW reported in this morning's Murmurs, Assurety NW was acquired this month by Tacoma, Wash.-based Propel Insurance, which will move Assurety’s employees to a downtown Portland office.

PDC spokesman Shawn Uhlman says Assurety NW is up to date on repaying its $1.5 million loan.

"It is our understand that Assurety is actively working to find a company to tenant their space," Uhlman tells WW. "There's quite a bit of potential involved." 

Mayor Charlie Hales and the PDC are preparing to spend even more to rescue the work already done in the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area, according to a draft plan obtained by WW in April. That plan proposes that the city spend another $54 million over the next five years.

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