History of the end of the Bridgeport Hotel

Eds. Note – below is a series of articles describing the protracted legal process required to condemn and destroy the Bridgeport Hotel. It was never a notable address, but located at the base of the east side of the Burnside Bridge, it rented to drunken sailors and bachelor warehousemen, burned several times, then served as the dumpsite for hundreds of mental patients moved out of Dammasch Hospital by the State. In 1982 the Bridgeport was highlighted in a five-part TV news series on mental illness as an “illegal room and board” because the owner, Wilma Robertson, freely gave out medical advice and resold medications abandoned by lost souls.

The building burned, was abandoned and stood vacant for several years prior to litigation. Beside it grew up the Burnside Community Counsel and its men’s shelter, Baloney Joe’s, which was demolished with prejudice in DATE after being vacant for several years. The Burnside Community Council’s charismatic leader, Michael Stoops was outed as a homosexual by the Willamette Week, days after mayor Bud Clark claimed City Hall would do anything to block the BCC from leasing vacant building on NW Park Avenue and Flanders for it’s new headquarters. Without Stoops, the BCC quickly collapsed, displacing thousands of homeless men; Stoops has worked on homeless issues since in Washington, D.C.

Oregonian, February 24, 1988

A decision by a Portland land-use hearings officer Tuesday, to legalize the office use of Crossroads Square, brought developer Hans Hoeck one step closer to completing his long-delayed office complex at the east end of the Burnside Bridge.

The project has a long and checkered land-use history.

In 1982, Hoeck’s Crossroads Square office building opened at 123 N.E. Third Ave. after it was converted from a furniture factory. The previous year, the City Council had created an “industrial sanctuary policy”that included the site, but Hoeck got building permits after a plans examiner decided it didn’t need a conditional use permit.

Bridgeport Hotel from the Burnside Bridge, 1940

Bridgeport Hotel from the Burnside Bridge, 1940

City planner Rich Cassidy said Tuesday that a “closer reading”of the code would have revealed the need for such a permit.

Nevertheless, the building has been occupied by office tenants since 1982.

In 1984, Hoeck bought two other nearby buildings, the former Bridgeport Hotel , 239 E. Burnside St., and the Emmett Building, 215 S.E. Ankeny St., and the city eventually approved conversions of both buildings to office use.

However, the developer found himself in trouble after he began adding four floors to the Bridgeport Hotel building, an improvement that went beyond anything contemplated in his earlier approval. The City Council ultimately approved the additional floors, with numerous conditions dealing with pedestrian walkways, parking, and traffic improvement.

Then, in 1985, a Corvallis savings and loan association, that had granted Hoeck a loan of $3.75 million to finance all three projects, failed.

The open skeleton of the Bridgeport building stands near the Burnside Bridge as a public remainder reminder of the collapse of Hoeck’s plans.

J. Richard Forester, an attorney representing Hoeck, said Tuesday that Hoeck has sought refinancing from various sources. Three days before the closing of a loan for the Crossroads Square building, the lender, John Alden Insurance Co. of Miami, discovered that Hoeck should have obtained a conditional use permit back in 1982, Forester said.

The company, worried that the office use might someday be declared illegal, said in effect, no permit, no loan.

Hearings Officer George R. Fleerlage basically approved the conditional use permit, delaying a final ruling on a request by city transportation planners that Hoeck build a sidewalk along Northeast Second Avenue.

Oregonian, October 27, 1989

The city of Portland has sued developer Hans Hoeck for breach of contract stemming from his failure for the past three years to build on an east-side site the city once owned.

Hoeck said litigation would not deter him from completing other nearby projects that also have been stalled for years while he has struggled to obtain financing.

The development agreement with the city called for Hoeck to build a 20,000-square-foot warehouse by July 1986 on the property under the Burnside Bridge on Southeast Second Avenue. The land remains undeveloped and a $3,466-a-month penalty has been accruing against Hoeck.

The fine totals $135,175 and is rapidly approaching the $173,302 Hoeck paid for the property. The Multnomah County Circuit Court suit seeks only payment of the fine and does not involve a foreclosure action. Hoeck used the property to secure bank loans, according to the suit.

“What the PDC wants is the property developed,”said Jeannette Launer, Portland Development Commission attorney.

Hoeck said the suit is “not supported by the facts”but declined to elaborate.

Hoeck, who owns adjacent property in various stages of redevelopment, said he expected to meet the development commission deadline but ran into difficulties. He said he has searched unsuccessfully for a tenant or buyer for the land. The lender he was counting on for construction financing, State Federal Savings and Loan Association of Corvallis, went into receivership in late *1985.

Hoeck and his attorney, J. Richard Forester, said a buyer has been found, but they would not name the purchaser.

“He has not had a serious offer for the site until now,”Forester said.

Hoeck bought the property in 1984 from another developer who had acquired the land from the Portland Development Commission. As a condition of purchase, Hoeck agreed to meet a development schedule that called for completion of a surface parking lot by July 1986 and a commercial building of at least 20,000 square feet by July 1987.

The city assembled 10 acres along Southeast Second Avenue, including what is now the Hoeck parcel, in the early 1980s for Produce Row, a distribution center for produce vendors and distributors. The project flopped, and the development commission sold the land.

Meanwhile, Hoeck is pushing ahead with redevelopment of an old warehouse and a former hotel across the street from the land involved in the lawsuit.

He said he is converting the Emmett Building, 215 S.E. Ankeny St., into space suitable for a variety of commercial uses, from advertising agencies to light industrial firms.

The Emmett was one of the sites considered by the Burnside Community Council, which operates the Baloney Joe’s homeless shelter, when the social service agency looked for new quarters earlier this year. The building is a block from the agency’s current quarters.

Hoeck said leases totaling more than 30,000 square feet have been signed or will be shortly. He would not name the tenants, but Forester said an architect, an advertising agency and a photographic service would move into the building.

Hoeck also said construction would resume on the former Bridgeport Hotel , 25 N.E. Third Ave., whose exposed and rusting girders have become something of a city landmark. Work halted on the project when the State Federal financing fell through.

Hoeck has said several times since then the project would be completed but nothing has been done.

He said two tenants have leased space in the building and would move in in late 1990.

Oregonian, February 6, 1990

Unless the owner of the long-vacant Bridgeport Hotel can show the office-conversion project will move ahead promptly, the city of Portland will seek demolition of the building as a health and safety hazard.

The Bridgeport has been a cause of concern for surrounding businesses and property owners almost since Portland developer Hans Hoeck acquired the property in 1984 and began converting the old residential hotel near the Burnside Bridge into a 75,000-square-foot office building.

A Bureau of Buildings hearing is scheduled Feb. 15, and by then Hoeck must show he has construction financing and contractors signed to finish the work, said Douglas D. Miller, bureau housing services supervisor. The project must resume by March 15 and be substantially completed by Oct. 15.

The provisions were ordered in November at the third of three Bureau of Buildings hearings involving the Bridgeport in 1989.

If Hoeck cannot provide the documentation, a demolition order will be issued, Miller said.

He said he expects Hoeck to file an appeal to “buy time”if he cannot comply with the requirements.

Hoeck declined to discuss the matter.”It will be appealed. I’m not going to make any comments to you this time,”he said in a brief telephone interview Monday.

With its rusty steel girders exposed on its upper floors, the Bridgeport has become a well-known fixture planted at the east side of the Burnside Bridge.

According to city records, building inspectors found unsanitary and unsafe conditions in the building, including “large amounts of trash, debris and human waste”; open drains that could allow sewer gases to enter the structure creating health and fire hazards; and holes cut in floors that pose a threat to anyone walking through the building.

A Portland Police Bureau noted that transients who use the building as a shelter and a place to consume alcohol are likely to injure themselves by falling through holes in the floor or down open elevator shafts.

Last year Hoeck tried to secure the building against transients and has been largely successful, said Tom Benjamin, interim executive director of Burnside Community Council, which operates the Baloney Joe’s homeless shelter next door.

Hoeck’s attorney, J. Richard Forester, also would not comment on the Bridgeport hearing.

The Bridgeport “is handicapped by the proximity of the homeless shelter,”Forester said.

Since June Hoeck has cleaned up some debris, according to city records.

Despite Hoeck’s efforts, code hearings officer William Shatzer concluded the Bridgeport “has been a blight to the city and a hazard to its citizens far too long. It is time that it either be demolished or repaired in an expeditious manner.”

Oregonian, March 2, 1990

The gutted Bridgeport Hotel must be torn down, a city of Portland hearings officer ordered Thursday.

The Bridgeport , 239 E. Burnside St., was declared a health and safety hazard. City hearings officer William Shatzer allowed building owner Hans Hoeck 90 days to demolish the 10-story structure.

Hoeck did not attend the hearing and declined to discuss the matter.

In November, Shatzer gave Hoeck until Feb. 15 to arrange construction financing and line up contractors to finish the work. The February hearing was postponed because of bad weather.

At Thursday’s hearing, the fourth since last June, Shatzer ruled that the conditions had not been met.

“We are essentially where we were 10 months ago,”he said. “A line has to be drawn somewhere, and it’s time to draw the line.”

Shatzer gave Hoeck until June 1 to level the building and clear the debris. If it is not down by then, Shatzer authorized the city to demolish the structure and bill Hoeck. A $100-a-day civil penalty also may be assessed against him if the the job is not done by June.

City building inspector John Duckworth estimated demolition costs would run $80,000 to $100,000.

According to city inspection records, the building is unsanitary and unsafe because of trash, human waste, sewer gas and holes cut in floors.

Until Hoeck finally secured the Bridgeport last year, police reported transients regularly used it as a shelter and as a place to consume alcohol and drugs.

J. Richard Forester, Hoeck’s attorney, said the Portland developer is working with lenders daily to find money to finish the project.

“This is a case of a person doing the best he can under difficult circumstances,”Forester said. “It may be foolhardy. It may be dreamy. But I think it may be commendable that he hasn’t walked away from this building.”

In the past Hoeck has blamed the city for some of his problems, saying a dispute over building permits delayed the Bridgeport project. He has struggled for years to obtain financing.

The building is a block from the Baloney Joe’s homeless shelter, which Forester said has been a major stumbling block for Hoeck. “The shelter next door has made financing very difficult,”Forester said.

The Bridgeport has been a trouble spot almost since Hoeck acquired the property in 1984 and began converting the old residential hotel into a 75,000-square-foot office building.

Forester would not comment on what the developer may do next. In a brief interview last month, Hoeck said an adverse ruling would be appealed.

Oregonian, May 16, 1990

Troubles continue to mount for developer Hans Hoeck, who now faces foreclosure on an eastside office building as well as a city of Portland order to tear down the old Bridgeport Hotel nearby.

Hoeck’s latest setback stems from a $4 million forclosure action taken by the John Alden Life Insurance Co. The Miami-based lender alleges Hoeck failed to make payments on the 1988 loan, secured by the Crossroads Square building, 123 N.E. Third Ave., and a vacant block bounded by Southeast Second and Third avenues and Ankeny and Ash streets.

The insurance company is trying to collect the $3.7 million balance and more than $300,000 in overdue interest, penalties and unpaid property taxes.

In 1982, Hoeck converted the former industrial building and warehouse into the 75,000-square-foot Crossroads Square office project. He had similar plans for the former Bridgeport Hotel , 239 E. Burnside St.

Now, however, Hoeck may lose both buildings. He is staring at a June 1 deadline for demolishing the Bridgeport and an Aug. 24 foreclosure sale on Crossroads Square.

Hoeck declined comment Tuesday on the foreclosure action but said he will fight the demolition order.

In February, city hearings officer William Shatzer declared the Bridgeport an abandoned building rife with health and safety hazards. Shatzer gave Hoeck until June to knock down the 10-story structure.

J. Richard Forester, Hoeck’s attorney, denied the building was abandoned and said Hoeck will challenge the legality and constitutionality of the city’s actions. A request would be filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court seeking a judicial review of the city’s action, he said.

The Bridgeport was the subject of four building-code hearings in 1989. Following the last one in November, Shatzer gave Hoeck until Feb. 15 to arrange construction financing and line up contractors to finish the project.

Hoeck did not meet the city’s demands, and Shatzer ordered him to level the site.

The city Bureau of Buildings is seeking bids from contractors to tear down the Bridgeport if Hoeck does not. If the city does contract for the work, a lien would be placed against the property, said Douglas Miller, the bureau’s housing services supervisor.

Hoeck bought the Bridgeport in 1984 and began converting the old residential hotel into a 10-story office building.

Hoeck has blamed the city for some of his problems with the Bridgeport , claiming a dispute over building permits delayed the project. In addition, he has been unable to obtain financing for the project.

Hoeck also has cited the Baloney Joe’s homeless shelter, one block away, as a cause of his woes.

According to city inspection records, the Bridgeport is unsanitary and unsafe because of trash, human waste, sewer gas and holes cut in floors. The building is still open and occupied by transients, Miller said.

Oregonian, May 21, 1990

Officer Barry Cook wants to leave his 7 a.m. roll call at East Precinct every morning and drive to a storefront cop shop at Southeast Grand and Ankeny.

Once there, the Portland policeman wants to hold a second roll call, this one with people who come to the inner eastside for work, shopping or play.

Margaret Moreland may be there. She owns an office building three blocks away and is incensed about crime. Or it might be Gregg Wentworth, a Chevrolet dealer who donated the 600-square-foot office space to police.

The three are all part of what Mayor Bud Clark and the City Council call community policing. The concept taps the ingenuity of the people affected by crime to help create solutions.

In East Precinct, the Police Bureau chose the inner industrial eastside for a demonstration project that will start July 1 and last three years. Even after the project ends, positive effects are expected to last indefinitely.

In North Precinct, citizens want to clean up several public housing projects plagued by drug dealers. In Central Precinct, police and businesses will tackle problems in Old Town.

The problems in the inner eastside stem from a fear of crime generated by some elements of transients who prey on the weak, shoppers and business owners. The anti-social behavior extends to littering, defecation and urination.

Ask Joanne Ferrero for a tour of the area and the first thing she mentions is how lucky it is that the day is cool. The assaults outside her car-parts business are not just on people and property, but on the nose.

A stairway from the Burnside Bridge goes over the door of her business below. On a recent tour, several transients were sitting on the steps drinking.

“It’s nothing,”Ferrero said, “to see people urinating and defecating all day long.”

Paul Harris of Miller Paints just installed a security door with buzzers in his business. He worries that the door sends out the wrong message to customers. And gone is the jar of candy a receptionist used to have on her desk.

Until the skeletonized building was boarded up, the sound of gunfire from the defunct Bridgeport Hotel was a signal to addicts — heroin dealers are ready and waiting. If you didn’t know the way, just follow the spray-painted “speed shots”signs.

For Roger Faddour, co-owner of the Unocal station at East Burnside Street and Grand Avenue, every day is a blur of gasoline customers and homeless men from Baloney Joe’s, the shelter next to his business.

Each week, police recover about five stolen cars left on his lot. Faddour figures only 5 percent to 10 percent of the shelter clients are down and out. Most of them “are in very good shape, healthy, and they don’t want to work.”

Moreland puts it more bluntly. “There are 31 social-service agencies over here. All but one are good neighbors.”

John Simmons, interim director of Baloney Joe’s, said his clients have been miscast.

“There are a lot of people on the streets who are perceived as being associated with Baloney Joe’s who are not good citizens,”he said. His clients also fall prey to a criminal element within the homeless, he said.

Simmons said sweeps in Old Town for heroin dealers had pushed the problems to the east end of the Burnside Bridge. Police broke up a fight Friday evening between 20 men who were using clubs, bottles and knives.

He praised the demonstration project and said an added police presence would help both the homeless and the inner eastside area.

Some type of shelter probably will remain on the eastside even after the expected dissolution June 30 of the Burnside Community Council, the agency that oversees Baloney Joe’s, Simmons said.

Ferrero and her business peers aren’t out to solve the homeless problem, prostitution or drug addiction.

They all know one thing. As of now, the anti-social members of the homeless community control the streets and sidewalks. If nothing else, they want their community policing demonstration project to turn the tide.

“We’re going to have exactly what we’re willing to put up with,”Moreland said.

As Ferrero puts it, the goal perhaps is to pare back what she calls “the three D’s — the danger, disabled and disgusting,”the human flotsam and jetsam that filters throughout the area.

Capt. Wayne Inman of East Precinct agrees. He has been careful in early meetings to tell project steering committee members to not set expectations too high. “Community policing is a mechanism, not an answer,”he said. “It’s going to be tedious work.”

The number of problems and solutions generated by the group quickly illustrate the depth of participation required of community policing.

Some seem easy. City crews will work quickly to paint over graffiti. The Salvation Army needs to secure a drop box better so transients don’t reach in, help themselves and discard clothing through the neighborhood.

Some problems have complicated solutions.

Thieves steal stereos from new Toyotas leaving the Port of Portland by rail. How? Freight trains slow to 5 mph through the industrial area in case there are incapacitated transients on the tracks. Thieves jump on the train and vandalize the cars.

Nothing can be done now to solve the theft problem, but community policing might reduce the transient population to the point where trains can roll a little faster and deter thieves from boarding the cars.

A policeman finds a drunk with a bottle of wine. Just pour it out, right? Wrong, Inman said. That constitutes seizing property without due process.

Policing in the 1990s doesn’t allow policemen to operate that way. “We should not be asked to perform, nor should we condone such a practice,”Inman said. A better solution is to have places to take inebriates, he said.

Fortunately for the Central Eastside Industrial District, some businesses already have taken it upon themselves to deal with some of the problems. Official designation by the bureau gives the efforts more focus.

Area businesses banded together to get the Boondox, a problem tavern at 616 East Burnside St., closed in May 1988. Under similar pressure, the 3 Brothers market down the street stopped selling fortified wine last summer.

US West Communications decreased drug deals by altering pay phones on lower Burnside to handle only outgoing calls. A volunteer citizen patrol approached “johns,”reducing prostitution by 80 percent.

Other big players will benefit from the community policing in the inner eastside.

The Portland Development Commission has paid for a business strategy study for the lower Burnside area by a local consultant, Barney and Worth Inc. It came after a separate study by urban planner Peter Finley Fry.

The reasons are simple. The Oregon Convention Center and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry are both opening in the area. Visitors paraded before the sociological underbelly of Portland will leave with a negative impression.

And as Fry points out, those visitors also should be spared the panhandling and vandalism to cars. “This is Portland’s front door,”Fry said, noting that the project area lies at the confluence of Interstates 5 and 84.

Gauging the success of community policing in the area won’t be easy.

Officially, the bureau plans three methods: first, an empirical look at reported crime. It also plans a survey on fear of crime and another on the quality of life there.

Other measures will be more subtle but also indicative of success.

For one, Inman wants crime victims to start calling police again. A measure of success will be an increase in calls to 911. Other goals are getting more people to press charges and show up at court watches.

Helen Cheek, crime prevention coordinator for Southeast Uplift, a neighborhood group, said the greatest measure would simply be a return of shoppers, tourists and customers to the area and new businesses willing to take the risk of locating there.

With the area under the microscope of the City Council and Police Bureau, Ferrero said cleanup efforts finally will have the focus they deserve. “We will have a location and a title,”she said.

Cook, the policeman, hopes it becomes a location for all to use again. The job won’t be done until citizens control the streets and sidewalks, he said.

Once that is accomplished, he said, “We have no intention of anybody taking it back, and that’s the bottom line.”

Oregonian, July 3, 1990

The Baloney Joe’s shelter for the homeless is a “snake pit,”its new operators said Monday, and could need up to $7 million to renovate or replace.

The Salvation Army said it will clean up the Baloney Joe’s shelter as its first step in helping people move out of homelessness. The Salvation Army on Sunday took over all Burnside Community Council programs, including Baloney Joe’s, for 90 days while working out details of an expected permanent takeover. The BCC will fold after the transfer is completed.

Lt. Col. Melvyn Morelock, the Salvation Army’s Cascade Division commander, described the shelter Monday as “a snake pit.”

“It’s miserable. It’s terrible. We have an obligation to do something better,”Morelock said, his voice rising with emotion. “If you don’t offer something that is uplifting, clean and decent, then what you are going to do is perpetuate the cycle of homelessness.”

During the 90-day period, the Salvation Army wants to work out final legal details and try to secure promises from local leaders that they will pay off BCC’s remaining debts. The BCC expects to leave behind a $50,000 debt.

The Salvation Army also needs approval from its corporate offices in Los Angeles before completing the takeover.

Morelock said the Salvation Army might need to spend $5 million to $7 million to improve Baloney Joe’s or build a new shelter at a different location.

“I have no idea whether we’ll stay or move. We haven’t gotten that far yet,”he said at a news conference at the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light center.

The Salvation Army will launch major fund-raising drives to pay for the improvements, Morelock said. He predicted that Portlanders will support the agency, which has operated programs in Portland for 103 years.

Morelock told reporters that he had several sleepless nights after an upsetting visit to Baloney Joe’s on Friday evening. He said he was shocked to see men sleeping only inches apart on cots and wearing to bed the same clothes they had worn all day.

He also was disturbed that a single room was used both for sleeping and as a day shelter, Morelock said. The shelter had only one shower and the “toilets are not at all in decent condition,”he said.

The Salvation Army won’t know how much work it could do at Baloney Joe’s until it finds out whether the building’s landlord is willing to renew a lease that expires Sept. 1, Morelock said. If the lease is not renewed, “then we have another serious problem,”he said.

If Baloney Joe’s remains at its present location, its basement could be remodeled and put to use, he said.

His own dream, Morelock said, is to buy a new building for a dormitory-style shelter. He said he has the “whacky, wild idea”that the army might try to buy the former Bridgeport Hotel , now a shell of steel girders next door to Baloney Joe’s.

Salvation Army Capt. Ross Allemang, who will manage all former BCC programs, said the army would focus on helping people get out of homelessness.

“People who want to re-establish their lives are our number one priority,”he said.

Those who simply don’t want to work are going to have a hard time under the new ownership, Allemang said.

“We’re not really interested in promoting a lifestyle,”he said.

Salvation Army officials met Monday with some of the 33 persons who worked for BCC. The workers have been offered jobs with the Salvation Army at the same salaries they received from BCC, Morelock said.

Besides the Baloney Joe’s shelter, BCC operated a day labor program, a health clinic and a kitchen at Baloney Joe’s; a transitional housing program in Old Town; and the West Women’s and Children’s Shelter in Northwest Portland for homeless and abused women and children. Allemang said no immediate changes are planned to those programs.


Oregonian, July 11, 1990

Developer Hans Hoeck and the city of Portland may resolve a long-running legal dispute Wednesday, and the settlement could open a Produce Row parcel for industrial development.

Hoeck, meantime, is scrambling to save his Bridgeport building, 239 E. Burnside St., by attempting to convert it into middle-income housing.

Hoeck bought the former residential hotel in 1984, intending to renovate it into an office building but ran into financial problems and building code violations. Earlier this year, the city ordered the building demolished.

The Portland Development Commission will consider the Produce Row settlement in a closed session at its monthly meeting Wednesday. The commission is scheduled to vote on the agreement during the meeting’s public segment.

The 1.2 acres, under the Burnside Bridge on Southeast Second Avenue, is part of a larger tract the development commission assembled in the early 1980s as a proposed distribution center for produce vendors and distributors. The project flopped and the development agency sold off the land.

Hoeck’s tiff with the agency began in December 1984 when he bought the property and agreed to meet the city’s development plan, which called for building a 20,000-square-foot warehouse there by July 1986.

The city sued Hoeck last October, claiming he failed to comply with the contract. The land remains undeveloped, and a $3,466-a-month penalty has been accruing against Hoeck for four years.

Development agency officials declined to discuss settlement terms until the commission has discussed the arrangement. Hoeck did not return calls to his office.

Multnomah County Circuit Court records state that the case has been settled “subject to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and city approval.”

The federal banking agency is involved because it is the receiver for State Federal Savings & Loan Association. The failed Corvallis thrift held a mortgage secured by the Produce Row property; the Bridgeport , 239 E. Burnside St.; and the Emmett Building, 215 S.E. Ankeny St., which Hoeck also owns.

According to agency documents, the proposed settlement calls for the development commission to re-acquire the land and sell it. One possible buyer is Mesher Tool Co., a Southeast Portland company looking for more space and unsuccessfully tried to buy the property from Hoeck last year.

It is not clear if Hoeck would pay any of the approximately $160,000 fine or would just deed the property back to the commission.

Once the Produce Row hassle is behind him, Hoeck can focus on salvaging the Bridgeport .

In February, a city hearings officer ordered the 10-story building torn down, ruling it was unsanitary and unsafe because of trash, human waste, sewer gas and holes cut in floors. The demolition order has been appealed, buying Hoeck some time to salvage the project.

Hoeck now wants to convert the building to “middle- or upper-income housing,”said Peter Fry, a planning consultant to the Central Eastside Industrial District.

The housing project would face some obstacles, requiring a zone change, additional on-site parking, and convincing a lender that apartments could be successful at the location. The Bridgeport is next door to Baloney Joe’s homeless shelter.


Oregonian, July 12, 1990

The Portland Development Commission voted Wednesday to settle its lawsuit against developer Hans Hoeck and repurchase a disputed eastside industrial parcel.

The proposed settlement calls for paying Hoeck $315,000 for the 1.23-acre site on Southeast Second Avenue and partly under the Burnside Bridge.

The land is part of a larger tract the development commission assembled in the early 1980s as a proposed distribution center for produce vendors and distributors.

The project was abandoned when prospective tenants dropped out, so the development agency sold off the land. Buyers had to agree to develop the property in accordance with development commission guidelines.

Hoeck did not return a call to his office Wednesday.

His battle with the agency stems from a contract he assumed when he bought the land. The agreement contained a city requirement to build a 20,000-square-foot warehouse on the site by July 1986.

The city sued Hoeck last October, claiming he failed to comply with the contract. The land remains undeveloped and Hoeck ran up $160,000 in fines for failing to meet the deadline.

As part of the settlement, $81,000 — about half the total fine — will be deducted from the PDC’s purchase price.

The development agency has three interested buyers and should be able to sell the land for at least $315,000, said Jeannette Launer, agency staff attorney. Launer did not identify the buyers.

Mesher Tool Co., a Southeast Portland company looking for more space, tried to buy the property from Hoeck last year. President Tom Mesher said he would reconsider the site if it was available.

Hoeck paid $173,302 for the land. Inner eastside industrial land values have gone up considerably since 1984 and the higher price is justified, Launer said.

Hoeck also must pay back property taxes and remove all liens on the property.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. must agree with the settlement as well. The banking agency is involved because it is the receiver for State Federal Savings & Loan Association. The failed Corvallis thrift held a mortgage secured by the Produce Row property and other nearby buildings owned by Hoeck.

The FDIC indicated that it will approve the agreement, Launer said.

At one point in negotiations, officials of the development commission tried to tie Hoeck’s long-stalled renovation of the Bridgeport Hotel , 239 E. Burnside St., to the settlement. Launer said the city unsuccessfully tried to get assurances from Hoeck that he would finish the building. The former residential hotel was gutted in 1985 for an office conversion project.

In February, a city hearings officer ordered the 10-story building torn down by June 1. The Bridgeport was found to be unsanitary and unsafe because of trash, human waste, sewer gas and holes cut in floors.

Hoeck appealed the demolition order and is considering converting the structure into apartments.

Oregonian, July 26, 1990

A Salvation Army Division Commander said he plans to change the name of the Baloney Joe’s shelter as well as many of the conditions there.

Lt. Col. Melvyn Morelock spoke at a luncheon Wednesday and said several improvements are planned for the shelter, which is being run by the Salvation Army for three months. Among the planned changes are:

*Installing double bunkbeds and eliminating people sleeping on the floor.

*Installing eight showers and requiring showers before men are allowed to sleep there overnight.

*Providing replacement clothing or washing machines so visitors can wash their clothing.

*Changing the name of the shelter to get rid of the name’s “negative connotation.”

*Staffing the shelter 24 hours a day with supervisors.

Morelock also said he has several long-term plans for the homeless shelter at 313 E. Burnside St., including remodeling the basement area to create more shelter space.

The Salvation Army took over the shelter and other programs previously run by the Burnside Community Council on a temporary basis, and are expected to work out the terms for running the shelter permanently.

When Morelock first toured Baloney Joe’s on July 4, he called it a “snake pit.”On Wednesday he said the Salvation Army “wouldn’t operate Baloney Joe’s in its present condition.”

Morelock and Capt. Ross Allemang, of the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light program, also discussed a philosophical change to the shelter’s approach to treating the homeless.

Allemang said Salvation Army officials expect to work with homeless people who have mental and emotional problems, alcohol and drug dependencies, are unemployed, and people who don’t want to work.

Of the last group, Allemang said, “Those people are going to find it extremely difficult, because we expect people to help themselves.”

Morelock called it a “no-nonsense approach to treatment.”

“I believe that people have a biological obligation and responsibility”to help themselves, Morelock said.

Besides the Baloney Joe’s shelter, Morelock said he plans to expand the job placement program and has mailed out letters asking for financial help from Salvation Army donors.

Morelock said the Salvation Army has taken on the 31 employees that formerly worked for the Burnside Community Council.

The Salvation Army plans a massive fund-raising campaign to continue to operate the new programs, to renovate the Baloney Joe’s shelter, and to possibly buy the West Women’s and Children’s shelter in Northwest Portland. Morelock said he also is interested in buying the former Bridgeport Hotel , the unfinished renovation project adjacent to Baloney Joe’s, and turning it into a dormitory-style shelter that could eventually replace its neighbor.

Oregonian, October 19, 1990

A Multnomah County judge found “ample evidence”Thursday to support demolishing the unfinished Bridgeport Hotel building at the east end of the Burnside Bridge.

Circuit Judge James R. Ellis said the building, which has stood vacant and unfinished for six years, posed a threat to public safety.

Developer Hans Hoeck, the owner, had appealed the order of a city hearings officer who ordered demolition in June after the last of four hearings.

Hoeck’s lawyer, J. Richard Forester, said Hoeck had made “valiant efforts”to secure the building to keep transients out while he attempted to find new financing to complete the building.

“There is still hope for salvaging that investment,”Forester told the judge.

But Ellis said his review of transcripts from the previous hearings showed “there was nothing that changed except passage of time and more promises”from Hoeck.

“Frankly, I don’t think this is a close case,”Ellis said at the close of the court hearing.

Hoeck has the right to appeal Ellis’ ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals. However, deputy city attorney Paul Elsner said it was likely that the city would seek approval to demolish the building pending any appeal.

The City Council has accepted a low bid of $147,000 to tear down the building.

Hoeck bought the old hotel in 1984. He type jumps here: planned to add several stories and convert it to a 10-story office building.

Hoeck gutted the building and added steel framework for the upper floors before work was halted in 1985 in a dispute over his building permit. By the time that dispute was resolved in Hoeck’s favor, Forester said, the lender had withdrawn Hoeck’s financing.

Forester said Hoeck has been seeking new financing continuously since.

Ellis said there was sufficient evidence that the building posed a danger to the public. He said it had become a meeting place for transients, criminals and drug users and that human excrement in some places had been found a foot deep.

Forester said after the hearing that he had “no idea”whether Hoeck would file another appeal or resist any attempt by the city to begin demolition soon.

Ellis said he would consider any conditional requests submitted by the city. “I am not going to facilitate prolonging this another two or three years on an appeal with no more merit than this one does,”the judge said.

Forester argued that Hoeck should be given two years after the demolition order to try to finish the project. “To demolish this building is simply going overboard,”he said.

Oregonian, November 1, 1990

After months of scrambling to save the Bridgeport Hotel from the wrecker’s ball, developer Hans Hoeck may have found a financial backer that will save the eyesore.

Hoeck, facing a city order to demolish the building at 239 E. Burnside St., will form a joint venture with a Portland-area real estate investor this week, said Charlene Kleinman, a Lake Oswego mortgage broker assisting Hoeck.

Kleinman said Hoeck also is negotiating with a tenant who would lease 30,000 square feet in the old hotel , which Hoeck plans to convert to an office building named Crossroads Tower.

Hoeck did not return calls to his office Wednesday.

Hoeck has been pulling out all the stops in his race to keep the city from knocking down the Bridgeport , which has been declared a safety and health hazard.

Earlier this month, Hoeck applied for a zone change that would permit him to turn the gutted 10-story building into a 56-unit apartment building with office space on the lower floors.

Kleinman said Hoeck may still proceed with that plan if the office tenant backs away from the project.

Hoeck has been trying for six years to redevelop the one-time residential hotel into an office building. His plans have been hampered by lack of financing and skirmishes with city planning and building agencies.

He also has said several times that he was close to signing a major tenant and securing a construction loan.

Hoeck’s unsuccsessful effort to redevelop the Bridgeport appeared to be at an end earlier this month when a judge upheld the city’s demand that the building be torn down.

His land-use attorney, J. Richard Forester, was optimistic that Hoeck could finally get the Bridgeport project up and running.

“Hans is trying to see if he can salvage the building,”Forester said. “If he can convince the city he has a viable project, I *believe the city will go ahead and let him finish the project.”

Hoeck applied to the city Planning Bureau for a zone change that would allow him to pursue the residential project, said Thomas Bizeau, a city planner assigned to the case.

While Hoeck may obtain the change by year’s end, that will not automatically negate the demolition order, Bizeau said.

However, Kleinman said city officials have been supportive of Hoeck’s efforts and would like to see the building completed and leased.

Hoeck bought the old hotel in 1984. He planned to add some stories and turn it into an office building. The building was stripped to its skeleton and the steel framework for the new upper floors was installed before work was halted in 1985 in a dispute over his building permit.

Meantime, financing for the project fell through.

The building became a camp site for transients. The Bridgeport also attracted the attention of city building inspectors, who found the building unsanitary and unsafe because of trash, human waste and gapping holes cut in floors.

Ultimately, a city hearings officer ordered the building demolished. Hoeck appealed the decision but the city’s action was upheld at a court hearing earlier this month.

Oregonian, May 7, 1991

The Portland City Council on Wednesday will consider foreclosure action against the troubled Bridgeport building at 239 E. Burnside St. The city wants to collect civil penalties and then either rehabilitate or demolish the 10-story structure.

But some central eastside citizens believe the action will just prolong a long-running legal dispute and the building will continue to be a serious problem for the neighborhood.

Developer Hans Hoeck bought the former hotel in 1984, intending to renovate it into an office building. But he ran into financial problems and building code violations. He later obtained a zone change that allowed commercial and residential uses.

In February 1990, a hearings officer ordered the owner to demolish the building by June 1, ruling that it was unsanitary and unsafe because of trash, human waste, sewer gas and holes cut in floors.

The hearings officer gave the city authority to demolish the building if the owner failed to take it down by June 1.

A low bid of $147,274 was submitted to demolish the building, and the City Council authorized the Bureau of Buildings to enter into a contract with Konell Construction Co. A contract was drafted, but was never signed.

“Then, basically, Measure 5 happened,”said Greg Carlson of the Bureau of Buildings.

“We decided to step back and take a look at alternatives,”he said.

The building owner sought a review of the order to demolish the structure, which was upheld in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Carlson said the decision not to demolish the Bridgeport also was delayed because the city learned of possible negotiations for the sale of the building.

He said after learning that there was no pending sale, the bureau decided to foreclose in an attempt to save taxpayers’ dollars.

A hearings officer assessed a civil penalty against Hoeck of $100 a day for each day he failed to comply with the demolition order.

A civil penalty totaling $26,000 has accrued against the Bridgeport .

During a press conference last week held by the Steering Committee of the Central Eastside Community Policing Demonstration Project, members complained that the foreclosure action would just start another long legal process, while the structure continues to be a haven for the homeless and drug dealers and users.

Margaret Moreland of the steering committee said her group was told by the Bureau of Buildings that the Bridgeport would be demolished last fall.

“Two different people told us that, and we were glad it was happening,”Moreland said. “Then they told us that it would not be demolished and it would go through another legal process.”

The Bridgeport , she said, has become a “crisis situation.”

“We have gone through endless hearings, and we don’t want to start the process again,”she said. “The council mandated demolition, and we feel the Bureau of Buildings is derelict by not carrying out the mandate.”

She said many central eastside interests would be delighted if the building could be developed, but not on a time frame of a year or more.

“Someone has to step forward in 60 days with plans and permits to do it,”she said.

Peter Fry, a consultant for the Central Eastside Industrial Council, said the Bridgeport is a “severe problem.”

“The community is telling the city that enough is enough and take the building down,”he said.

He said a building can’t be taken from another individual without due process.

“And due process,”he said, “takes time.”


Oregonian, September 5, 1991

A judge on Tuesday ordered new municipal hearings before Portland officials attempt to tear down the unfinished Bridgeport building at the east end of the Burnside Bridge.

Multnomah County District Judge Thomas L. Moultrie said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which claims an interest in the property, deserves a chance to challenge demolition under rules set by the city code.

Moultrie said the FDIC did not receive formal notice of hearings when the city began procedures in 1990 leading to a demolition order.

City Attorney Jeffrey Rogers said Tuesday that the city hadn’t decided whether to start a new round of hearings or simply to reopen the old proceedings to give the FDIC an opportunity to present evidence.

As a result of hearings in 1990 and 1991, city officials declared that the Bridgeport , which has stood unfinished since 1985, represented a danger to the public and should be torn down.

Evidence at court hearings indicated that the building skeleton is not in danger of collapse. However, police and neighbors have objected to use of the structure by transients for unsanitary purposes and drug dealing.

“We continue to believe that it is a danger to the public and a real blight on the neighborhood,”Rogers said.

Moultrie’s order prevents the city from beginning demolition for at least a month. Rogers said he did not not how long it would take to complete new hearings ordered by Moultrie.

Hans Hoeck, a developer, started converting the former Bridgeport Hotel building to offices in 1985 by adding structural steel for four additional stories. However, work was stopped temporarily by city officials, and then Hoeck lost his financing.

The FDIC interest in the building stems from a $5 million loan made by the now-defunct State Federal Savings & Loan Association to Hoeck.

The City Council earlier this year approved a $150,000 contract for demolishing the building. But the FDIC filed suit to stop demolition.

Moultrie, who heard a full day of testimony in the case last week, chided both the city and the FDIC in his written ruling.

Oregonian, October 5, 1991

A Portland hearings officer, saying that past promises have never been fulfilled, Friday reinstated an order allowing the demolition of the unfinished Bridgeport building at the east end of the Burnside Bridge.

Demolition could begin later this month, according to Bureau of Buildings officials.

In his ruling, the hearings officer, William Shatzer, said he has heard “promises, hopes and expectations”that developer Hans Hoeck is always confident that financing will be arranged. But he said he had no confidence that such financing could be arranged.

“This thing has got to come to an end,”Shatzer said.

Attorney William R. Turnbow, representing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which holds a loan on the building, asked Shatzer for a delay to allow Hoeck to arrange financing to complete the building.

Hoeck testified that he had a commitment from a construction company to purchase the building for $1 million. The FDIC would then receive its money from that sale. Then, he said, a Nevada financial company would loan him $6 million that he would use to buy back the structure and finish building it.

“I would like to see the building finished,”Hoeck said.

But Gregory Carlson of the Bureau of Buildings said the structure is a major eyesore and a problem for eastside Portland.

“What we have here is what we have heard before — that a deal is in the works,”he said. But there is no documentation indicating a commitment on a loan, he added.

Last month, Multnomah County District Judge Thomas Moultrie ordered new hearings before Portland officials attempted to tear down the building. Moultrie said the FDIC deserved a chance to challege the demolition under rules set by the city. Moultrie said the FDIC did not receive formal notice of hearings when the city began procedures in 1990 leading to a demolition order.

As a result of hearings in 1990 and 1991, city officials declared that the Bridgeport , which has stood unfinished since 1985, represented a public danger and should be torn down.

Evidence at court hearings indicated that the building skeleton is not in danger of collapse. However, police and neighbors have objected to use of the structure by transients, the unsanitary condition and drug dealing there.

Hoeck started converting the former Bridgeport Hotel building to offices in 1985 by adding structural steel for four additional stories. However, work was stopped temporarily by city officials, and then Hoeck lost his financing.

The FDIC interest in the building stems from a $5 million loan made by the now-defunct State Federal Savings & Loan Association to Hoeck. Turnbow said the FDIC had reached an agreement with Hoeck to discount the debt to $725,000, plus attorney fees.

The City Council earlier this year approved a $150,000 contract for demolishing the building, but the FDIC filed suit to stop demolition.

Turnbow said he had not decided whether to appeal Shatzer’s ruling.


Oregonian, July 14, 1992

The long-unfinished Bridgeport building returned to the verge of demolition Monday after a Portland judge affirmed a city order calling for its destruction.

The ruling could be the final defeat for plans by developer Hans Hoeck to turn the former Skid Road hotel at the east end of the Burnside Bridge into a 10-story office tower.

Steel beams from the unfinished structure have jutted four stories into the sky since 1985, when a building permit dispute and financing woes shut down construction.

Valencia Tolbert, a deputy city attorney, said the city intends to demolish the building even if Hoeck files an appeal with the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Hoeck left Monday’s brief court hearing without comment.

Multnomah County District Judge Thomas L. Moultrie, asked to review a city demolition order of October 1991, said he found no constitutional violations.

“It may well be a blessing in disguise if this building is demolished,”the judge said. He said Hoeck may find financing more readily available for a new building on the cleared site.

City officials said they are prepared to move quickly on demolition. Gregory Carlson, a nuisance abatement supervisor, said he needs to find out first whether a $150,000 demolition contract approved by the city last year is still valid.

“As far as I’m concerned, the City Council has directed us to take it down,”he said.

An earlier demolition order was halted in court last year after it became apparent that the city had not formally notified the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. of the demolition hearings. The federal agency holds an interest in the land as a result of a $5 million loan from a savings and loan that went broke.

The new hearing last October, which led to the same result, occurred after the FDIC had been given a chance to appear. Hoeck, not the federal agency, filed the challenge of the second order that led to Monday’s hearing.

Darin Honn, Hoeck’s lawyer, argued Monday that the building is not unsafe because there is no danger of its collapsing. He said city officials stipulated that the steel framework is sound.

Honn also noted that steel shutters have been installed over all doors and windows to keep transients out. Neighbors had complained earlier that the Bridgeport was used by transients for drug dealing and for unsanitary camping.

Moultrie ruled that the building, which has holes in some of its floors and unprotected elevator shafts, would be a danger to police or firefighters who had a duty to go there. He also said he was concerned about the effects of weather after several years on the uncovered building.

At the city’s request, Moultrie ordered that Hoeck would have to post a $150,000 bond if he appeals. Tolbert said such a bond would cover the city’s demolition expenses while an appeal is pending.

Oregonian, July 25, 1992

Developer Hans Hoeck won a partial eleventh-hour reprieve Friday in his effort to save and renovate the Bridgeport Hotel , a long-unfinished eyesore on the east end of Portland’s Burnside Bridge.

But even Hoeck, a legal cat of nine lives, may not be able to stop the wrecking ball this time, and demolition was scheduled to begin Monday.

“I think I have a plan for something that would help the community,”Hoeck said. “I just hope I can do it in time.”

However, Greg Carlson, housing services supervisor for the city’s Bureau of Buildings, said Hoeck’s latest plans are too little and too late.

“The city attorney has told us to go ahead,”Carlson said. “We’re planning to begin demolition on Monday.”

On Friday, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Roth granted Hoeck a four-month extension from the county’s foreclosure proceedings for failing to pay more than $50,000 in back property taxes.

Hoeck told Roth he was fine-tuning a new plan to develop low-cost housing on the site in coordination with the Salvation Army, converting the shell of the former Skid Road hotel into a 10-story residential complex.

Later, Hoeck said he had hired a top architectural firm to draw renovation plans for the building, which has sat idle since 1985, when building permit problems and financing woes stopped the project.

“It will look beautiful,”he said. “It will improve the entire neighborhood.”

Salvation Army officials were not available for comment Friday.

According to court documents, Hoeck bought the building at 5 N.E. Third Ave for $300,000. He then invested $800,000 in structural improvements that included extending steel girders for upper stories.

However, financing for the project came from State Federal Savings & Loan Association, which failed. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which assumed the savings and loan’s debts and assets, has placed a $5 million lien on the property. Although Hoeck has been unable to persuade anyone else to back the project, he said he believed he could negotiate a truce with the FDIC.

Meanwhile, over the last seven years, the building’s fate has been a legal and political football, bouncing between the Portland City Council, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, various hearings officers and state and federal courts.

Several times, the building had been slated for demolition, but Hoeck and his attorneys have successfully held the wrecking ball at bay.

When city officials complained that the building harbored transients, Hoeck installed steel sheeting to block access. When health officials said the building was littered with garbage and human filth, Hoeck cleaned up the mess.

Oregonian, July 28, 1992

Developer Hans Hoeck went to court one last time Monday to stop crews from demolishing the Bridgeport Hotel , but his bid failed and the skeletal building near the east end of the Burnside Bridge began to come down.

No wrecking ball swung in a dramatic display of triumph for those who favored the demolition. But jubilant city officials gathered at the hotel anyway.

At 10 a.m., a crane began dismantling the building, beam by beam, at a deliberate pace meant to protect the bridge and surrounding structures. It was the first step in ending the city officials’ three-year effort to raze the structure.

“You can tell from the enthusiasm of the people here that we want this building down,”a beaming City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury told reporters. “And finally, today!”

Hoeck bought the 10-story building in 1985 for $300,000.

Hoeck was not present when the demolition work began.

He has sought for years to keep the Bridgeport Hotel intact. He wanted to renovate it. He stressed that the building enjoyed a great location and view of downtown Portland.

City officials wanted to raze it. They insisted the building harbored drug dealers, transients and filth.

“This building has been a hazard to both the police and the community,”said Lt. Dan Lambert of the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct.

The precinct worked with central eastside community groups for years to clean up drug activity that reportedly occurred at the Bridgeport Hotel , Lambert said.

For seven years, the building’s fate has bounced between the Portland City Council, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, hearings officers, and state and federal courts.

In 1989, a city hearings officer ordered the 85-year-old building demolished.

Hoeck used legal avenues to keep the Bridgeport standing. Meanwhile, he spent $800,000 on repairs and renovations to keep the city happy, kept up a broad but futile search for investors and accrued $42,122.55 in back taxes.

On Friday, Multnomah County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Roth gave Hoeck four months to pay the taxes before the county would start foreclosure proceedings.

But the city vowed to go ahead with its plans to demolish the building. District Judge Thomas L. Moultrie approved the demolition July 16.

Thirty minutes before demolition was scheduled to begin Monday, Hoeck and his attorney asked Moultrie for more time to remove heating units from the building. Hoeck’s attorney requested four hours; Hoeck wanted four months. Moultrie denied both requests.

“I don’t think client and attorney had a meeting of the mind,”said Deputy City Attorney Lindy Tolbert. “We told them the wrecking crane was in position and ready to go.”Hoeck did not return phone calls to his office Monday.

The building should be razed in three to four weeks, said Greg Carlson, Bureau of Buildings supervisor. Workers may close some lanes on nearby streets during the wrecking, Carlson said.

The city will pay $157,000 for the demolition but will try to get the money back when Hoeck sells the land.

Kafoury said that the Recovery Inn, the hotel ‘s next-door neighbor and a shelter for the homeless, is next on the demolition list.

The city and area businesses have long said that the Bridgeport Hotel and the Recovery Inn have stymied development in central eastside Portland.

The city commissioner said the city hopes to find other housing for the shelter’s clients in a year.

Oregonian, January 27, 1993

Hoeck’s suit in federal court seeks to have the city pay him compensation for the demolition of his unfinished 10-story building at the east end of the Burnside Bridge.

In addition, the complaint contended that he should not be held liable for more than $172,000 in demolition costs that the city is attempting to collect from him.

City officials said they had not seen a copy of the U.S. District Court lawsuit and could not comment on it.

Hoeck owned the six-story building at 239 East Burnside Street and began work in 1985 to renovate it and add four more stories to it.

In July 1985, however, Hoeck was advised by the city that the work should stop and the building permit was being restricted pending further review, according to the suit. The work was never completed.

In August 1985, a savings and loan association went insolvent, three months after committing to loaning $6.5 million for the Bridgeport Hotel renovation, the suit said.

The city cleared the way for a building permit for the renovation in February 1986, but a month later, federal banking agencies that took over the insolvent savings and loan association disavowed the financing commitment, according to the suit. Hoeck was unable to find other financing.

In July 1992, the city ended more than three years of legal wrangling when it began tearing down the unfinished building. Police and other officials said the structure harbored drug dealers, transients and filth.

The demolition deprived Hoeck of his rights and property without due process of law, according to the suit filed by Portland attorneys Marc Zwerling and James Esterkin.


Oregonian, December 12, 1995

Want to get the attention of the Kerns Neighborhood Association? Mention homeless and shelter in the same breath.

The city of Portland did so in a recent application for the transfer of a piece of foreclosed Multnomah County property, and soon found it had aroused concern in Kerns, and that the neighborhood wanted to know the city what it was up to.

Since then, the city has assured the inner eastside neighborhood that a homeless shelter is not what it has in mind for the old Bridgeport Hotel property.

But the episode helped illustrate how touchy those who live in Kerns are about the possibility of another social-services agency in their area.

It all started when Kerns residents got wind of a city proposal for a 90-unit housing development for homeless singles at the site of the Bridgeport . The property is at the east end of Burnside Bridge, near the old Recovery Inn.

In a one-page county report, the proposed development was described as “90 units of mixed-use, multistaged housing for homeless singles. The development will incorporate a seasonal emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing.”

To those living in Kerns, that description sounded suspiciously like another Recovery Inn — an often-controversial shelter the provided immediate space for homeless people to get basic needs such as a place to sleep and some meals.

Bill Lennertz, land-use representative for Kerns, contacted the city about the neighborhood association’s concerns.

“In the application,”Lennertz said, referring to the city’s plans, “they made it sound like the decision was made.”

But then the city assured him it has no intention of developing a homeless shelter at the site.

“It seems like the issue has been cleaned up,”Lennertz said recently. “There is not a link, as in there is no specific link in the buying of the building and the shelter. That’s what they’re telling me.’

Lennertz received his assurances from Steve Rudman, director of the city’s Bureau of Housing and Community Development.

Rudman said the site could be a mixed-use development of permanent or transitional housing, but “it will not be a Recovery Inn-type of shelter.” Rudman said

“That’s what local neighbors and businesses are concerned about. They know what was there and they don’t want it back.”

What was there was Recovery Inn, once was the city’s only publicly funded emergency shelter. It closed June 30. Recovery Inn played a key role in the city’s homeless shelter system, providing domitory-style living with a sleeping area shared by several people.

But it also was seen as a dangerous eye-sore eyesore by many of the nearby businesses. and many Many homeless advocates also disliked it, seeing it as an example of “warehousing” the homeless.

What the city has in mind at the Bridgeport site instead, is transitional housing, in which a person or family has a private room or apartment and a key to the place.

While shelters are intended for short-term stays, transitional housing — depending on the type — allows residents to stay anywhere from 90 days maximum to two years.

That’s what could end up at the site of the Bridgeport , an unfinished six-story hotel at 239 East E. Burnside St. that the city demolished in July 1992 after more than three years of legal wrangling.

The demolition cost the city $300,000, which was applied as a lien against the property. Rudman said the city obtained the property to “protect our investment.”

He said the county foreclosed on the property for back taxes and that the county’s forclosure foreclosure takes precedence over the city’s lien. Thus, he said, if the city forclosed foreclosed on the property, the city would have to pay the back taxes, which is the reason the city never forclosed.foreclosed.

Rudman said the property was transferred to the city as part of the county’s Affordable Housing Development Program. The program, establised by county ordinance, designates property foreclosed for back taxes be used to help spur development of affordable housing for low-income families. The cost-free transfers to nonprofit housing providers sets notification, selection and transfer requirements.

Rudman said the property must be developed as affordable housing or be returned to the county.

“It’s intentionally open-ended because we didn’t want to presuppose what the decision might be,”he said, referring to the city’s plans for the site and the connection with discussions about a new permanant shelter.

“Clearly, right now,”Rudman said, “the focus is on permanent, transitional housing.”