Umpqua Plaza Carries the Largest Property Tax Debt in Portland

The tax bill is less than a year old, and the owners are appealing their tab.

Address: 1 SW Columbia St.

Year built: 1975

Square footage: 294,714

Market value: $81.2 million

Owner: Umpqua Plaza Property LLC

Property tax owed: $1.44 million

How long it’s been delinquent: Since November

What those taxes could buy: Multnomah County could hire 15 public health nurses.

Why it’s delinquent: It’s appealing its bill.

Although it bears the name of Oregon’s largest homegrown bank, the 19-story Umpqua Plaza belongs to an offshoot of Chicago-based Zeller Realty Group.

The brick-clad tower commands killer views of Mount Hood and is just steps from Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The lobby is meticulously cared for. But in these work-from-home times, it’s quiet and surrounded by streets devoid of the pre-pandemic bustle.

The owner’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment on the property’s unpaid taxes, but it’s no secret that downtown Portland office space has been under tremendous pressure since the pandemic began, with vacancy rates reaching 27% in the fourth quarter, according to the brokerage firm CBRE.

At nearly 50 years old, Umpqua Bank Plaza is significantly older than more centrally located office buildings, such as Park Avenue West, One Main Place and Fox Tower. Umpqua Plaza is home to several law firms, including Brownstein Rask, Bullivant Houser Bailey, and K&L Gates, but for companies looking to relocate, there’s plenty of empty space, in part because Umpqua moved its employees to Lake Oswego.

Another possible reason for nonpayment: The building is one of an unusually large number of properties whose owners are appealing their valuations, seeking to lower their taxes. But as they are required to do, the owners of other buildings seeking to get their valuations lowered paid their taxes in November. The Umpqua Plaza’s owners didn’t—and are racking up interest charges.

Willamette Week's journalism is funded, in part, by our readers. Your help supports local, independent journalism that informs, educates, and engages our community. Become a WW supporter.