Park Avenue West, a Residential and Office Tower, Now Has Permits to Use Roughly 45 Apartments as Short-Term Rentals

Portland's fourth tallest tower in the building is the site of a labor fight and a bunch of short-term rentals.

On March 2, union protesters embarked on a particularly audacious form of protest.

SEIU Local 49 organizers dropped a banner out of an 11th-floor window of the Park Avenue West building that read in part: "GOOD JOBS NOW." They were protesting the lack of unionized cleaning jobs in the tower—a reversal detailed by WW in this week's edition.

The banner drop was made possible by the fact the developer has short-term rentals, which it had failed to get permits for—until after an Oregonian story last year.

The union rented a two-bedroom apartment from the vacation-rental company Vacasa for two nights.

Because the building stands in a commercial zone, the owners of the building are allowed to rent rooms in the short term, much like a hotel. But they failed to obtain the necessary permits until after the Oregonian story appeared. (Vanessa Sturgeon, of TMT Development, told the Oregonian that the delay in permitting was the city's fault because it was a new kind of permit.)

Now, city inspectors say the building has permits to use roughly 45 apartments as short-term rentals, further expanding the portion of the building that would, in theory, be covered by a disputed agreement to hire union labor.

But that appears unlikely to happen.

As WW reported this week, Sturgeon had agreed to hire union cleaning companies to work in the commercial portion of the building as part of an agreement with the city to build the 30-story commercial and residential tower, which is the city's fourth tallest building.

Related: A Developer Promised Union Jobs in Exchange to Build Tall. The Construction Happened. The Jobs Didn't.

Sturgeon, through a representative, declined to comment for WW's story. But her lawyers have argued the union contracting requirement does not need to be upheld because the commercial tenants in the building have hired their own cleaning contractors.

The sign was in reference to the union's fight to get the owners to live up to that deal.

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