Readers Respond to a Fentanyl Den in a Prominent Downtown Property

“I try to avoid being hyperbolic about the state of downtown—some people seem have a lot to say but don’t appear to ever visit—but the area described in this article feels actively, profoundly dangerous.”

Last week, WW explored one of the most blighted properties in downtown Portland, a commercial complex at Southwest 4th Avenue and Washington Street. Washington Center, as it’s known, is owned by limited liability companies controlled by the Menashes, one of Portland’s most prominent real estate families. But with tenants gone, the property is in dire condition—squatters broke into a former KeyBank, and a fentanyl market operates in broad daylight (“Market Forces,” WW, March 22). Lauren Menashe said the family had no intention of paying into the local improvement district until surrounding conditions improved. In the days after our story ran, the Menashes boarded up the KeyBank and Downtown Clean & Safe hauled away trash. Here’s what our readers had to say:

Hannah R., via “It’s validating to see someone finally acknowledge the open drug market at this property. I catch the bus across the street most days to and from work, and it is so scary. I try to avoid being hyperbolic about the state of downtown—some people seem have a lot to say but don’t appear to ever visit—but the area described in this article feels actively, profoundly dangerous.”

PDXMB, via Reddit: “Regardless of how the Menashes feel about the city’s issues, there is no excuse for them to take such poor care of a property they own. Guess what? I own a property downtown as well, that was slated for a hotel construction start in April 2020. The current building is vacant, but I make sure to clean the graffiti and work to not make it an eyesore. I’ve run off people trying to squat, and respond to neighbors who ask me to keep my side of the street clean. If I took the same approach as the Menashes, there would be a nuisance in the heart of the Pearl as big as the one at 4th and Washington.

“The Menashes whining about ‘What have you done for me lately’ when they have been milking our city for decades is hypocrisy at its finest. Get off your asses and take care of your property. Once you have, then come back and we can talk about why the city has let us all down.”

Sarah Iannarone, via Twitter: “None of this is new. Urban planning emerged in the early 20th century in response to poverty in cities. Today, Portland’s big problem is uncritical leadership incapable of redressing neoliberalism’s failures. This sitch with the Menashes a *chef’s kiss* case study.”

Mt. Hood, via “Businesses owners, the Menashe family and citizens of Portland are ‘perplexed’—not to mention furious and heartbroken—by how city officials have let the heart of the city itself disintegrate, turning it over to the extremists, anarchists and hyperprogressive ‘leaders’ to run directly into the shitter. Don’t forget, Mayor Wheeler stood in solidarity with those extremists and anarchists. He’s complicit.

“No sense reposting the last two paragraphs of this article here again. Please read them carefully. Lauren Menashe’s explanation of what’s happening with this property (and the city) is not only spot phucking on with regards to their situation, but it will be the same exact refrain that we’ll hear repeatedly from other business owners in very short order.”

mostly-sun, via Reddit: “They’re not maintaining the property or sidewalks, they’re not paying Clean & Safe, and they’re not pricing it at a level that is attracting any interest. Are they insolvent, incompetent, or just neglecting an unimpressive two-story downtown property that they intend to redevelop? Sure, Portland has its issues, but so does every city, and this is just a failure to deal with common challenges. They’ve let it fester to a point that the building may need to be demolished, given that ‘amateur demolition’ has already taken place, whether that was their original plan or not.”

Nick Caleb, via Twitter: “In Portland, developers openly refuse to adhere to the law and then get whole articles to explain their rationale and call for more law and order. “Anarchist jurisdiction indeed.”

Im_not_a_robot, via “A direct result from the article. This should show to the WW staff the power of pushing against corporate realtors/developers to forestall a festering dystopia. Hell, we give them enough tax breaks. It is notable the Menashes finally did the necessary work, all the while complaining and asserting they were doing it all along…kind of like those legal settlements from horrible polluters where they agree to pay but do not accept any blame.

“Now, if only the City Council would do their job, and the cops, we might be able to see a downtown Portland that is a fun place to shop, stop off for a bite at a restaurant, and take a pleasant walk to see the lovely spring trees budding, flowering and leafing.”

speedbawl, via Reddit: “I used to hit Hush Hush Cafe in here all the time and always liked the zany architecture that came with it.”

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