Charming, Dilapidated Building on Northeast Alberta Street Slated to Meet the Wrecking Ball

The custodian of the trust that owns the hulk said she wanted to repair it, but that hasn’t happened.

ADDRESS: 2734-2738 NE Alberta St.

YEAR BUILT: 1917

address: 2734-2738 NE Alberta St.

YEAR BUILT: 1908

SQUARE FOOTAGE: 4,748

MARKET VALUE: $1.5 million

OWNER: A trust controlled by Erzsebet Eppley

HOW LONG IT’S BEEN EMPTY: 9 years

WHY IT’S EMPTY: So many reasons

It’s been more than a year since the stately but decrepit two-story building at Northeast 28th Avenue and Alberta Street started dropping bricks onto the sidewalk.

Yet the property remains fenced, forcing people to walk in the street on the south side of busy Alberta and the east side of less-trafficked 28th. That’s because the owner, a trust controlled by a woman named Erzsebet Eppley, hasn’t finished repairs that would make the building—and the block—safe again.

Eppley, reached by phone, says that’s mostly because there aren’t enough contractors in post-pandemic Portland to do the work.

“The issues are labor shortages, money shortages, conflicts of interest, and difficulties with access and prioritizing,” Eppley says. “Everybody has to be available.”

The city, it appears, has finally lost patience with Eppley. Earlier this year, it issued an order that allowed Eppley to repair or demolish the building in a timely manner. Eppley chose to repair it and began working with engineers and contractors, Portland Bureau of Development Services spokesman Ken Ray says in an email.

But the repair work stalled, triggering a timeline for tearing it down, Ray says.

“BDS is pursuing a contract for demolition of the building,” he says. “I am told that at this point, the property owner is ‘racing the city to demolish the building.’ If the property owner can demolish the building, they will avoid additional civil penalties.”

Visit the property and you’ll see no signs of urgency. Little has happened since Eppley took down the unstable bricks along the east façade. Taggers have added more graffiti and some trash has accumulated, but nothing has been repaired.

When she removed the bricks, Eppley stacked them in front of a slumping bungalow just south on 28th that’s owned by Tillamook Holdings LLC, an entity controlled by Eppley that’s in about the same shape as its larger neighbor.

Property records indicate Eppley’s trust and LLC either inherited or bought the properties from her Hungarian-born mother and father, Elizabeth and Joseph Boczki, who, according to a paid obituary in The Oregonian, “built a real estate business together over the years in Portland and enjoyed life to the fullest.”

The last time the building on Alberta had a tenant was in 2014, when a Sicilian pizza place called Al Forno Ferruzza closed after a five-year run.

At the time, owner Stephen Ferruzza said he had to close because a pipe burst and the landlord didn’t act in time to prevent an “excessive mold buildup” that “rendered the building unsafe for our workers and customers.”

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.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.