City Council Votes to Foreclose on Gordon’s Fireplace Building and Three Others

A two-story heap that dropped bricks onto Alberta Street is among them.

Gordon's Fireplace Shop. (Michael Raines)

The Portland City Council voted unanimously today to foreclose on four blighted buildings, including one that once housed Gordon’s Fireplace Shop on Northeast Broadway, which has devolved into a highly visible, graffiti-covered monument to the blight that has afflicted Portland since the pandemic.

Among the others was the two-story brick building on Northeast Alberta Street at 28th Avenue that once housed a pizza restaurant and later dropped bricks near one of the city’s busiest shopping streets.

The City Council votes regularly to foreclose on vacant, thrashed buildings that have racked up tax liens. The owners of the Gordon’s building owe the city $20,022.

Seattle-based Interurban Development purchased the building at 3312 NE Broadway in 2017 for $2.7 million, planning to turn it into apartments similar to a complex just to the west, which has a New Seasons Market. Instead, the property sat undeveloped, attracting vandals who smashed out windows and tagged walls. WW inaugurated its “Chasing Ghosts” series in August 2022 with a story about the building.

Farther north, the City Council voted to foreclose on 2734-2738 NE Alberta St., another notorious property. In October 2022, bricks from the second story fell onto 28th Avenue, just steps off of Alberta. The building, also featured in Chasing Ghosts, has been fenced, forcing people on Alberta to walk in the street.

Last December, owner Erzsebet Eppley told WW she hadn’t repaired the building because of “labor shortages, money shortages, conflicts of interest, and difficulties with access and prioritizing.”

Eppley owes the city $53,303 in delinquent liens for code enforcement and violations, records show.

The other two properties that the council voted to foreclose on are in North Portland.

One is a tiny, 572-square-foot house in Kenton at 2626 N Baldwin St. The owners, Randy, Richard and Florence Butler, owe $4,591 in liens, city records show. Strangely, the website Redfin lists the property as “pending.” Daniela Walker, the listing agent, didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

The other North Portland property is a 1,036-square-foot house at 4611 N Minnesota Ave., owned by Max Sass, a resident of Las Vegas, according to county records. Sass owes $29,185.

Owners still have 90 days to remedy the liens, City Commissioner Carmen Rubio said at the meeting.

“It’s essential that we approve this next step,” she said before the foreclosure votes, “so that we can move the process forward to either motivate the owners toward action or sell the property so code violations and safety issues can be cleared up once and for all.”

Bricks dropped off this building at Northeast 28th Avenue and Alberta Street. (Anthony Effinger)

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