City Will Soon Reach Out to Neighborhoods That Could Be Near Mayor’s Mass Encampments

According to records obtained by WW, downtown real estate broker Mark New was working with former mayoral aide Sam Adams to secure sites.

BRIDGETOWN: The spans of the Willamette River. (Wesley Lapointe)

The office of Mayor Ted Wheeler will soon begin outreach to neighborhoods that could be sites of the mayor’s massive sanctioned encampments, two of which he aims to have operating within three months.

The city plans to build six sanctioned encampments with basic case management services and hygiene amenities, each with capacity for up to 250 people. No locations have been announced, but the mayor’s office told WW last week that letters of intent had been obtained for two sites.

Wheeler secured $27 million from his colleagues on the Portland City Council last year to cover the costs of setting up three of the encampments, and just last week Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson told WW she’s committed to providing services for the camps once she sees a location up and running.

The encampments were largely the brainchild of former mayoral aide Sam Adams, a bulldog policymaker who left the city last month after female city employees alleged in a slew of complaints that he’d bullied them. (Wheeler says he demanded Adams’ resignation; Adams denies this and says he left of his own volition due to worsening health.)

In an email obtained by WW via a public records request, it appears that downtown real estate broker Mark New was working with Adams in the months prior to his departure to secure encampment sites.

On Jan. 11, the day after Adams announced his resignation, New emailed the mayor’s office about his ongoing work—and asked what the future would look like now that Adams was gone.

“I have been working with Sam on these safe sleeping zones for a number of months. While I agreed to donate my time, where a brokerage fees was being paid, we discussed that I would receive and donate it to a local charity,” New wrote. “For the most part, the deals did not create a significant fee, until we start talking about the downtown property we discussed yesterday. There will be a significant fee paid to the seller’s broker, which is split with the buyer’s broker, which should come to me and then I will donate.”

New did not respond to a call or text seeking comment.

Mayoral spokesman Cody Bowman declined to say which property New was referring to, and also declined to say whether the site was one of the two the mayor’s office had secured a letter of intent for, though Bowman did say the city does “not have an agreement for the use of this site.”

But WW has learned that New was, and perhaps still is, eyeing a parking lot that runs along the west edge of Southwest Naito Parkway beneath the west end of the Morrison Bridge. (The bridge splits into two curved on-ramps here; the property is sandwiched between them.) The parking lot is owned by Daniel Petrusich, president of a prominent downtown commercial real estate company. Petrusich served on the board of Blanchet House, a meal provider for homeless Portlanders, for more than a decade before retiring last year.

Petrusich did not respond to a text or call seeking comment.

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