Portland Mayor Ends Hope of Wapato Jail Being Used as a Shelter or Treatment Center

The plan for Wapato is dead again.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has told the developer who bought Wapato Jail that he does not see a way to use the never-used building as a treatment facility or a homeless shelter.

That answer all but finishes off hope of reviving the idea.

The news comes after the Nov. 6 election, in which Republican gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler and Portland City Council candidate Loretta Smith, the two candidates to run high-profile campaigns supporting Wapato as a homeless shelter, both lost.

Real-estate magnate Jordan Schnitzer, whose company Harsch Investment Properties bought Wapato after the county sold it earlier this year, has been waiting on a plan from developers, nonprofits and the city on how to use the facility to fight homelessness. But he said in October that if local governments didn't step in, he would demolish the structure.

Related: Jordan Schnitzer says he'll tear down Wapato Jail if he can't find funding to make it a homeless shelter.

He filed for a demolition permit on November 1, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Wednesday.

The prospect of preventing the building from being demolished appears dead if the mayor is unwilling to invest public funds.

The mayor's office tells WW that Wheeler called Schnitzer before the election and told him, "Don't wait on me for that idea."

Wheeler's chief of staff Michael Cox says Wapato was briefly part of the mayor's considerations for how to connect people with addiction and mental health problems crises with services, instead of facing interactions with police.

Wheeler convened experts on the issue, and Wapato "didn't figure into the two-hour discussion," Cox says.

"We're going to continue working through this issue," Cox says Wheeler told Schnitzer. "Wapato is not going figure in that discussion."

Schnitzer did not return a call seeking comment.

There have been signs this has been coming. Earlier this week, the leaders of the Oregon Harbor of Hope said they were still working on a plan to fund the Wapato project.

But when told of the mayor's comments by WW tonight, developer Homer Williams said it wasn't entirely unexpected.

"It doesn't surprise me," says Williams, declining to elaborate. "It's better that I don't comment."