Opponents of a 260,000-square-foot freight warehouse planned for the Argay Terrace neighborhood in East Portland are amplifying their resistance to the facility.
Breylan Deal-Eriksen, a real estate broker who lives in nearby Maywood Park, started an online petition against the warehouse Feb. 28. It’s gathered 1,550 signatures so far.
Prologis, the San Francisco-based company that helps companies like Amazon and Home Depot move merchandise around the world, plans to build the warehouse on the site of the old Kmart on Northeast Sandy Boulevard at 122nd Avenue, best known as the site where Proud Boys gathered for a far-right festival in August 2021 that turned into a paintball and baseball-bat brawl with anti-fascists. (Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, a ringleader, is facing 70 months in prison after felony convictions this week.)
The property is owned by an entity called RFC Joint Venture. Following leads in property records, WW last August linked RFC and the property to Zygmunt Wilf, who, along with his brother Mark and a cousin named Lenny, owns a New Jersey real estate company called Garden Homes. Wilf also owns the Minnesota Vikings football team.
Opponents of the warehouse say the increased truck traffic will hurt the air quality in a neighborhood that already has more than its fair share of sprawling freight depots.
“The increased truck traffic and air pollution will have severe impacts on the air quality in our neighborhoods, particularly for the most vulnerable members of our community, such as children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems,” Deal-Eriksen says in his petition. “The constant noise and air pollution from the diesel trucks will not only be detrimental to the health of our community members but also create a disruption to the quality of life we cherish.”
More truck traffic also poses a threat to children walking to the four schools in the neighborhood, Deal-Eriksen says. The warehouse would be just across 122nd Avenue from Parkrose High School, and a block north of Parkrose Middle School. Two elementary schools are nearby.
Prologis says the warehouse will bring economic benefit.
“As a long-term member and partner of the Portland community, we will continue to engage the city and community on this project,” Prologis spokesman Mattie Sorrentino said in an email. “We are making a significant investment to convert the idle vacant site and build a modern, sustainable logistics facility that will support the economy.”
Deal-Eriksen says he started the petition to encourage regulators to reconsider approvals for the project. In 2018, the city of Portland changed the zoning for the 13-acre Kmart parcel from “commercial” to “general employment” to try and spur job creation in the neighborhood.
“These are warehouse jobs,” Deal-Erikson, 35, says. “They are going to be miserable. I’m tired of government happening to me. I’m sick of these bad decisions.”
Instead, Deal-Erikson recommends using money from the CHIPS and Science Act to fund a research-and-development complex on the site. Signed by President Joe Biden last year, the CHIPS Act allocated $10 billion to create regional innovation and technology hubs around the country.
In an update to his petition, Deal-Eriksen encouraged supporters to attend an open house this afternoon, March 3, with state Rep. Thuy Tran, who represents Oregon House District 45. It is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Rose City Vision Care, 4526 NE Sandy Blvd., #B, the update said.
“Making sure our communities are healthy and safe is a top concern for Rep. Tran,” Anne Marie Bäckström, Tran’s chief of staff, said in an email. “Tonight’s open house is an opportunity for the people of House District 45 to come and meet the Representative and discuss any and all issues that are important to them. For some, this may mean coming to discuss the petition.”
In other news about the Kmart site, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Amy Baggio found Proud Boy Tusitala “Tiny” Toese guilty yesterday of 10 counts of assault, riot, unlawful use of a weapon, and criminal mischief during the right-wing rally in 2021.