Community Post

Bankrupt project on 12th leaves unstable slope, dump site

The plan for 18 loft-style apartments at 12th & Fir was one of the more ambitious projects of the real-estate bubble years. Now it’s shaping up to be the Central District’s poster-child of real-estate and banking woes, and how the resulting ownership confusion can leave us all with an unstable mess.

The property at 151 12th was purchased by PbElemental in late 2007 for $575,000 and the old auto shop that sat on it was demolished the next year. But the mixed-use project never made it past the first set of design reviews, and it was cancelled last year. PbElemental also defaulted on the bank loan that was used to purchase the property, the corner lot was taken over by Evergreen Bank.

But the empty lot was left in a state of disarray. The city cited it last year for an unstable, unretained slope along the back and side with no erosion control, putting neighboring properties at risk of damage. According to the citation (attached above), the city is requiring a geotechnical engineer to evaluate the site and for countermeasures to be designed and installed to prevent further problems.

And as the site has sat empty, it’s also become a target for dumping. Trash is piled up in various places, and old TV sets and computer monitors are broken and strewn about the property. Earlier in the year, Capitol Hill Housing, which owns other property along 12th, paid to have a junked car moved off the lot.

The story got more complicated in January, as Evergreen Bank was seized by the FDIC and sold to Umpqua Bank of Oregon, putting Umpqua in charge of the derelict property and any others that may have been a part of Evergreen’s load portfolio. 

The site is currently incurring fines of $500 a day as long as the problems go unfixed. And after sending four notices to the owners about the violations, the city planning department has forwarded the case on to the city attorney’s office for legal action.

We made numerous attempts to contact PbElemental for comment on this story. A man who answered the phone there said he couldn’t speak to it, and attempts to reach a company executive were unsuccessful.

0 thoughts on “Bankrupt project on 12th leaves unstable slope, dump site

  1. Isn’t Umpqua Bank of Oregon responsible rather than PbElemental? I believe that PbElemental is the company that has been unsuccessfully trying to sell the work lofts on the north side of East Union between 21st and 20th Avenues.

    Update: Thank you, Jean, I knew that. Sorry

  2. This is Kate from CHH. We have been working on this site for quite some time, trying to coordinate clean-up efforts, rather unsuccessfully, with PbElemental before the site was foreclosed on. Cleanliness of the corridor is a big part of the 12th Avenue Initiative which we have been working with the neighborhood on for the last 2+ years. This is why we paid to have the cars towed a few months ago. They were attracting squatters and more trash, and the neighbors came to us concerned.

    We are now beginning an effort to work with Umpqua, hopefully as a sponsor of a clean-up day this spring, when we tackle this site with some volunteer labor and muscle! Please e-mail if you are interested in this event, it is going to be a lot of fun! [email protected]

  3. FYI, Pb was the architect/designer of the Union Street work lofts and is not the owner/developer/seller.

  4. Why are you badgering PbElemental? I sure as hell hope I don’t have to answer for the truck I sold 5 years ago.

  5. Who’s badgering? It is a simple fact that Pb refused to clean up the lot. All you have to do is look at the dumping ground it has become.

  6. Hi, I’m Lani Hayward, EVP of Creative Strategies here at Umpqua Bank. Thanks for your comments about the property on 12th Street made in yesterday’s article and subsequent posts. Umpqua has recently taken position of this property and I’m happy to report we had people on site today to assess the clean up needed. We will be acting swiftly to clear debris and restore a safe and pleasant looking environment. Additionally we are actively working with community organizations, like CHH, to engage with the neighborhood around ongoing clean up efforts. Thanks again for the comments. We hope to hear more as you see positive changes occur.

  7. Thanks Lani & friends for your quick action. It’s good to have you in the neighborhood.
    Maybe a branch someday soon, too?

  8. Bravo for stepping up to the plate. Imagine that, a bank doing the right thing! Good for you! I had filed complaints with the city last fall. The abondoned cars were removed, but little else was done.

    Please make sure your clean up includes:
    1.) making the sidewalk (especially along Fir) passable. The Hill has sloughed off and overgrown blackberries prevent passage of a wheelchair or walker.
    2.) The boulevard also needs cut and maintained. As the adjacent property owner I think you have a moral obligation here if not a legal one.

    In my wildest wish I would hope you could transform this into a Pea Patch garden until the economy improves and you can see the property developed.

    Thank you.

  9. Thanks, dondi, for your comment and question. I’m Nicole Stein and oversee Community Responsibility at Umpqua Bank. We are growing our presence and locations in the Seattle market. This particular property, however, is for sale. Your nearest Umpqua store is currently at 1111 3rd Avenue. We’d love to have you drop by.

  10. Danny – thanks for your feedback. I’m Nicole Stein with Umpqua’s Community Responsibility team. As this property has recently come into our possession, we continue to assess the needs of the property and are taking care of them as quickly as we can get the right expertise on site.

    You’re right, it is important we ensure adequate pedestrian access, as well as take care of the boulevard maintenance. Where you note the hill has slid will be corrected as part of the slope control process this week. The strip between the sidewalk (I’m assuming this is the boulevard you reference) and the parked cars has already been cut. We’ll be sure to remove grass debris from the sidewalk that accumulated from that process.