Thrashed Building in Sellwood Languishes Amid Thriving Markets, Restaurants

A father and son seem in no rush to fill a dilapidated complex of storefronts.

1269 SE Tenino Street, Sellwood (Anthony Effinger)
  • ADDRESS: 1269 SE Tenino St.
  • YEAR BUILT: 1912
  • MARKET VALUE: $2 million
  • OWNER: Tenino 12 LLC
  • HOW LONG IT’S BEEN EMPTY: At least 2 years
  • WHY IT’S EMPTY: Slow-moving developer

Talk about a diamond in the rough.

The vacant, trashed building at the northwest corner of Southeast Tenino Street and 13th Avenue in Sellwood has some posh neighbors. There’s a New Seasons Market behind it and a Mud Bay pet supply store just up the street. Sebastiano’s, the Sicilian sandwich shop, is just south.

But the Tenino complex, once home to a consignment furniture store and a hair salon, among other things, stands empty while Sellwood thrives around it. The building, which takes up a quarter block, has been empty for at least two years, indicating yet more victims of the pandemic.

But someone was willing to take a chance on the building as recently as March 2022. That’s when an entity called Tenino 12 LLC bought it for $1.9 million. Tenino 12 is controlled by VWR Development LLC, according to public records, and VWR Development was founded by the father-son team of Walter and Vic Remmers in 2012, other records show.

VWR has done little with the building during the two years it has owned it. The place is trashed. Weeds 3 feet tall grow out of window boxes. Inside, insulation hangs from ceilings like stalactites. There’s black stuff on the walls that looks like mold. The whole place is fenced.

Buying the building was a departure for the Remmerses. They made their money building single-family houses. Vic learned the business by working with his father, then became owner and president of Everett Custom Homes, according to the company’s website.

Neither Remmers returned phone messages left at VWR Development.

The Remmerses have long been the bête noire of neighborhood associations for their vigorous construction of infill development. Vic made headlines in 2015, when Everett bought two lots in Eastmoreland for $326,500, intending to build on them, which would have required cutting down three giant sequoias. Neighbors vowed to save the trees. Protesters climbed them to stop the saws.

After months of negotiation, Everett agreed to sell the properties for a total of $800,000, according to public records, to two buyers who used donations from South Park creator Matt Stone and others.

The Remmerses aren’t in such a rush to develop this time. That may be because they ran into trouble on another project, this one on Northeast Sandy Boulevard (see The Big Number, below).

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