An Enormous County Property Has a Lot of Asbestos and No Viable Use

“Multnomah County considers this building to be unoccupiable and will not be putting anyone inside it.”

12240 NE Glisan St. (Lucas Manfield)
  • ADDRESS: 12240 NE Glisan St.
  • YEAR BUILT: 1956
  • SQUARE FOOTAGE: 23,980
  • MARKET VALUE: $3.3 million
  • OWNER: Multnomah County
  • HOW LONG IT’S BEEN EMPTY: Since 2018
  • WHY IT’S BEEN EMPTY: It’s beyond repair.

For two decades, county officials have wrung their hands over what to do with the asbestos-laden, 4-acre complex at the southeast corner of Northeast 122nd Avenue and Glisan Street.

In 2004, the county announced its intention to offload the site’s primary structure, the Hansen Building, a former county health clinic-turned-sheriff’s office headquarters. In 2006, a committee recommended that deputies vacate it within three years.

They did, a decade later, to be replaced by 200 unhoused Portlanders. Use of the building as a shelter in 2016 was made over the objections of two county commissioners who pointed to its questionable seismic stability—as well as an infestation of black mold and asbestos.

That arrangement didn’t last long. By 2018, the building was once again vacant. “The building needed a tremendous amount of rehab,” says Roma Peyser, vice president of development at Transition Projects, the nonprofit that ran it.

County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson lives in the neighborhood. That year, she organized a brainstorming session with local leaders over what to do with the eyesore. It was “a thoughtful dialogue about the impacts previous uses of the site have had on the surrounding neighborhood,” she now says.

But, despite bringing in a real estate broker to market the building, efforts to put the property to use went nowhere.

It didn’t seem to be for a lack of buyers. Graham Taylor, a senior vice president at that broker, CBRE, says he can’t explain why the county never struck a deal: “Frankly, it’s a bit of a mystery to me.”

For a while, the parking lot served as a temporary office for Department of Community Justice employees who worked out of trailers. Then, Vega Pederson says, the pandemic halted any further plans for the site.

Any other temporary use of the building would appear to be off the table.

The heating system is now “beyond repair,” according to a 2022 request to decommission the building’s fire sprinkler system: “Multnomah County considers this building to be unoccupiable and will not be putting anyone inside it.”

So, the building’s fate?

“The county has not made a determination regarding the future use of the site, and there is no date set for when a determination will be made,” spokesman Denis Theriault says.

In the meantime, county officials propose demolishing the buildings on the property—at a cost of $5 million. “I am currently considering that request,” Chair Vega Pederson says.

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