The Portland Development Commission is now accepting bids for developers to purchase this asphalt and grass lot on the east side of MLK, between Cook and Ivy:
Pretty nondescript, huh?
Well, this site was once home to the notorious Grant Warehouse, a building described as “not a matter of `Could it blow up?’; it was a matter of `When will it blow up?’ ” by an official involved in what turned into an expensive, years-long effort to clean up this site.
A Portland Business Journal article tells the story of the Grant Warehouse, owned last by Erwin Grant:
“Built in 1925 as a slaughterhouse, Grant Warehouse has housed an auto-repair facility, a welding shop and foundry for melting down lead from batteries. For a time, the polluted 19,000-square-foot facility also was home to a parked busload of homeless people.
“The Grant Warehouse story came into public light in October 1998. A modest media frenzy unfolded when a few of the homeless lodgers allegedly got rowdy enough to compel Grant to call the Portland police department.
When police arrived, they reportedly couldn’t believe what they saw. The Portland Fire Bureau was dispatched, and Grant Warehouse was immediately stamped as a fire hazard.
“A few weeks after police discovered the unbelievable scene, a search warrant was issued and sample collection began.
“About $1 million in federal emergency funds were spent for removal of nearly 10,000 chemicals, including acids, cyanides and ether.
“Boswell said that for 20 years, Grant was buying scrap metal and practicing some form of alchemy.
“Near as we can tell, he was buying old school science chemicals–tons and tons of those chemicals,” he said.
“It was reported that the 20 homeless people living in and around a broken-down bus at Grant Warehouse were relocated to nearby shelters.
“Of those 20 people, some of whom were paying rent to stay at the warehouse, only five have been tracked down and tested for toxicity.
The results reportedly turned up negative, but there are lingering concerns for the homeless persons not yet found.”
Grant originally refused to give up the property, but after the federal government sued him for recovery of costs resulting from the GW cleanup, he agreed to sell the building to the Portland Development Commission in 2003 for approximately 170,000; a US District Court ordered half of that money to be turned over to the federal government.
Note: As the commenter below noted, the original photo was wrong. I have corrected it!