September 15th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

City Hall: Made in Oregon Sign Comes Under Public Ownership

Made in Oregon sign's new message

Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Randy Leonard this morning introduced their deal to bring the Made in Oregon sign under public ownership, more than a year after Leonard put the brakes on a different deal that would have given the University of Oregon the rights to change the sign. Adams described today's deal, a complicated stew of trades among the sign's owner, the building's owner, the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission, as having "very favorable terms" thanks to "master negotiator" Leonard.

Here are those terms as described by Portland's budget office, the Office of Management and Finance:

1. PDC will transfer the ownership of the retail building under the west side of the Burnside Bridge to City.
2. PDC will pay $20,000 for tenant improvements to retail space.
3. City will enter into a 20-year lease, with option to renew, with the White Stag Block Master Subtenant (WSBMS) for the retail building and parking lot. The lease revenue will be $34,150/year for the first 10 years and $42,654/year for the next 10 years.
4. City will enter into a 7-year lease for $1/year with WSBMS for the sign to remain on the roof of the White Stag Block Building. After that time, the City will receive an easement for this right.
5. WSBMS will pay $200,000 to convert the existing sign to “Portland, Oregon” sign.
6. City will enter into a 10-year agreement with Ramsey Signs, Inc. for $2,000/month to maintain the sign. This cost will be funded by the lease revenue of the retail building and parking lot mentioned above.
7. The City will reimburse WSBMS for the $7,500 cost of the sign permit review fee.
8. The City is responsible for the utility costs to power the sign; costs estimated to be $400/month.

"This had the potential to be confrontational," says Art DeMuro of Venerable Development, which owns the White Stag building on which the sign sits.

At the end of this morning's discussion, Commissioner Amanda Fritz announced her support for the deal, which she described as protecting taxpayers. "I was not expecting to be able to support this ordinance," Fritz said.

A City Council vote on the deal is set for two weeks from today. Update at 10:42 am: At the last minute, Leonard called for a change to make the deal an emergency ordinance, allowing City Council to vote on the measure today. Leonard says he was surprised Fritz decided to vote for the measure and that voting on it today would allow workers to begin changing the sign immediately, improving the chances the sign will be ready for the holiday season.
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