Plans for Nightlife on Northeast Sandy Faded

A music producer bought a house. Then the pandemic hit.

ADDRESS: 6520 NE Sandy Blvd.

YEAR BUILT: 1950

SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,659

MARKET VALUE: $496,830

OWNER: Joel Leoschke

HOW LONG IT’S BEEN EMPTY: Two years, at least

WHY IT’S EMPTY: A home never became a “cool little hangout spot.”

The green house in the 6500 block of Northeast Sandy Boulevard is, as a friendly neighbor put it, an “oddball.” It’s on a tiny triangle of land ringed by three streets, protected from the busy boulevard by a row of towering evergreens.

For most of its life, the building has been a residential home. In 2017, a beat-up Chevy pickup and a silver minivan wrapped in tarps were parked in the driveway, photos show. For years, the landscaping has been minimalistic: a hodgepodge of large granite boulders set in dirt beneath the shade trees.

Now, it’s boarded up and decrepit.

In December 2019, Joel Leoschke bought it—and the lot’s generous, developer-friendly zoning—for $750,000. He planned to turn the building into some sort of bar, restaurant or entertainment venue.

It’s not clear which. Leoschke declined to discuss his plans, or anything else for that matter, when reached by WW by phone.

City and state records offer hints, however. In 2019, Leoschke and two others filed incorporation papers for “Sandy Pines LLC.” They listed the Sandy Boulevard address as its principal place of business.

In 2021, Leoschke filed for a “change of occupancy” permit to convert the house into a commercial business and outlined plans to build a “game room,” kitchen and lounge.

But that never happened. Sandy Pines LLC was dissolved last month. The building is now up for sale again. A recent listing priced the “great development opportunity” at $650,000, a substantial discount from what Leoschke paid in 2019.

Friends’ plans to create a “cool little hangout spot” were thwarted by the pandemic, says the property’s broker, Cory Stevens. Efforts to sell the building were then hampered by rising interest rates and the conditions of Portland’s streets, Stevens says.

“This is a rough area,” he explains. “It’s become a dumping ground—and Sandy has a lot of that.”

This isn’t the first time Leoschke has been featured in this newspaper. The experimental music producer founded Kranky Records in Chicago before moving to Portland in the 2010s.

The label’s 25th anniversary party, held over two nights in a Portland church, offered a glimpse of what could have been on this quiet stretch of Northeast Portland. “The bill is full of Oregon folk and experimental legends,” WW reported at the time.

Stevens says there are signs Leoschke may soon be able to move on from his latest business venture. A buyer nearly closed a deal on the property recently, but the finances fell through. There were a few showings earlier this month.

“We have people circling,” Stevens says.

Every week, WW examines one mysteriously vacant property in the city of Portland, explains why it’s empty, and considers what might arrive there next. Send addresses to newstips@wweek.com.

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