David Gold, one of the Portland developers behind the Grove Hostel project on Burnside, responds to Street Roots regarding the latest push to dissolve the Right 2 Dream Too encampment across the street from the project:
"I am deeply concerned about the plight of those without housing in Portland. I don’t pretend to have the “answer” on how to end homelessness, but I do not think that illegal campgrounds are the answer. Social service agencies, residents, property owners, and business owners have historically worked together in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood. The violation of building codes, zoning laws, and design review requirements at this site threatens that fragile relationship and jeopardizes future projects that will require community consensus.
Also, to clarify, it was the Mayor and Commissioner Saltzman’s offices that suggested a complaint campaign to pressure the City to find a long term solution."
S.R.: Have you been given basically an ultimatum, that if R2DToo is there, the investors will not invest?
"It is really a very simple concept: if we cannot rent the space across from the camp, we cannot pay our loan payments. Real estate brokers have advised us that no restaurateur will lease the space and invest the necessary funds on improvements and equipment with the illegal camp across the street."
S.R.: If they don't, what does that mean for project, and the money already invested, including the PDC?
"If the project will not have sufficient funds to make its loan payments, it would be irresponsible to move forward. The investors and PDC would lose all the funds already invested, as well as the thousands of hours a multitude of people have invested over the past few years. But more importantly, the neighborhood will lose an incredible opportunity for a new, innovative business that would improve a full block of West Burnside and bring jobs, customers, and daytime street activation to the neighborhood. The Grove represents a larger vision for the neighborhood that will be lost if it does not come to fruition."
Homelessness is a community issue that must be solved at the public policy level by the City. The Mayor and City Council need to show the leadership to humanely and equitably resolve the current situation."