Portland plays poverty card to support Vestas project

The City of Portland is using a federal program for run-down “recovery zones” to finance the $66 million Vestas building in the Pearl District.

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A federal program to spur recovery in blighted areas with high unemployment and poverty rates is being applied to one of Oregon’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Gerding Edlen’s redevelopment of an old warehouse into the $66 million North American headquarters for the Danish wind turbine giant Vestas is likely to be financed by a program meant for “recovery zones.”

The Portland City Council is supporting the idea on the premise that the entire city is currently a recovery zone.

“I’m pleased that at least we found one major project, somewhere in the city, that could use it,” (Mayor Sam) Adams said. “Would I prefer this kind of money to go to East Portland or North Portland or more distressed neighborhoods? Absolutely. We just don’t have a private-sector partner.”

The program, once it gets formal City Council approval in November, would work like this: Portland would issue the Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, investors would buy the tax-exempt investments, and principal and interest would be paid through rents collected by the project developer and other local investors.

City officials say there would be no risk to or payments by taxpayers.

Read more at OregonLive.

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