The owner of the Concordia University campus wants to sell it to “like minded” owners for “the highest and best use.”
Those terms peppered a Sept. 2 video conversation between Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA) representatives and two Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) officials.
LCEF took ownership of the property in the June foreclosure after Concordia University had defaulted on nearly $38 million in loans. Since the college closed in April 2020, neighbors have asked what will become of the property. Answers to several questions posed by CNA were answered by Bart Day, LCEF president and CEO, and Rick Lauer, LCEF Real Estate Solutions senior vice president.
Can a buyer make a totally different use of the property? “The highest and best use is the easiest transition,” pointed out the LCEF president.
The property is zoned campus/institutional. “When new owners want to change the zoning, there’s usually a lot of pressure from the surrounding areas, and we’ve seen that take years in some cases,” Rick explained. “We’re not interested in pushing this out for years.”
The LCEF leaders also said they want to sell the campus as one unit. That includes not only the property and buildings, but also the fixtures, furniture and all other contents in the buildings. They pointed to that strategy in Boise when “like minded” University of Idaho College of Law leaders purchased the Concordia University Law School campus.
What Bart again called “like-minded people” have expressed interest in purchasing the Portland property, although he declined to name them or the price being discussed.
“We’re not looking to windfall some huge cash off of this sale,” he said. The goal is to cover the debt.
Another Concordia University creditor, Hotchalk, has attempted to delay the sale until its lawsuit is settled for the $302 million it claims Concordia University owes for an online education system. Hotchalk filed a similar suit to delay the property sale in Boise, but the Idaho court dismissed it.
Judgment on the Hotchalk suit for the Portland property from the Multnomah County Circuit Court didn’t arrive before press time. Visit ConcordiaPDX.org/CUSale for the judge’s order.
Meantime LCEF has a full-time maintenance person on the Portland property. “We are trying to keep a presence of people working on that campus to show that we’re actively engaged in it,” Rick said.
The LCEF representatives said they cannot, however, allow local groups to use the property. For insurance reasons, they continue to decline requests from organizations that used the grounds and facilities previous to when the university closed.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.