Washington Center Got a Scrubbing This Morning

Downtown Clean & Safe crews swarmed the downtown block, which has recently become an open-air drug market.

Efforts to clean up the open-air drug market in downtown Portland are continuing. This morning, crews with Downtown Clean & Safe carted off hundreds of pounds of trash and power-washed the sidewalks.

On Monday, workers hired by Menashe Properties were boarding up the shattered windows of the KeyBank on the complex’s southwest corner, which had become a hangout for squatters.

The developments come a week after WW reported on the deteriorating condition of Washington Center, a downtown Portland block that’s owned by several limited liability companies controlled by the Menashe family. The commercial buildings on the block have been abandoned, replaced by an open-air fentanyl market.

The Menashes have allegedly not been paying their dues to Clean & Safe, an organization that cleans up the streets using fees charged to downtown property owners.

Mark Wells, director of Clean & Safe, says this is the third time since last fall his crews have deep-cleaned the block, despite the Menashes’ lack of payment. He’s been fielding weekly complaints from nearby businesses.

“We went above and beyond,” he says.

One of those nearby businesses, the hotel Royal Sonesta, reported an armed robbery to police in the wee hours of March 27, hours before Menashe crews were seen boarding up windows across the street.

Two men tried to steal the hotel’s ATM, and then pistol-whipped a hotel employee before fleeing. The police are investigating, but no arrests have been made.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has yet to respond to WW’s repeated requests for comment about what he’s doing to address conditions on the block.

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