By Gabriel Frayne Jr.
It’s not often in our fair city that one finds a long-abandoned building that has been tagged over by graffiti artists hired by the owner with the aim of improving the building’s visual appeal.
That, however, is what recently happened to the derelict laundromat at 2755 SE Belmont, according to several neighbors.
The laundromat has long been an irritant to residents of the Buckman and Sunnyside neighborhoods, though it is not clear whether this is because it is simply a festering eyesore or if there are other safety and code-violation issues involved.
The lot is now enclosed by cyclone fencing and there appears to be a small homeless encampment on the 28th St. side of the lot.
Just over a year ago, the city carried out a nuisance complaint against the lot’s owner, KP Belmont 28 Real Estate of Vancouver, WA., for trash and debris on the premises. The owner was found to be in compliance as of March of this year.
Nonetheless, one could argue that the parcel’s continuing limbo puts the owner in a legal gray area. Chapter 29.40 of the Portland City Code states that “A derelict building shall be considered to exist whenever any [unoccupied] building…is boarded,” and if such designation is made, the building must be occupied or demolished.
As reported by The Southeast Examiner in September, KP Belmont purchased the property in May of 2016 and promptly took out permits for demolition of the laundromat and construction of a five-story, 46-unit residential building. Those permits expired at the end of this past summer, however.
A spokesperson for the Bureau of Development Services says the building permit application has been extended until February of 2019, though there has been no attempt to extend the demolition application.
The exact reason for the delay is difficult to ascertain, but two neighbors claim that the owner underestimated the costs involved in excavating the laundromat’s underground tanks.
KP Belmont, which has no website and files its permit applications through a third-party agent, was unavailable for comment.
In the meantime, there seems to be little that local residents can do other than wait for something to happen. As the BDS spokesperson put it, “There are many properties around town that are vacant and the city does not have control over their development.”
Waiting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Asked if he considered the abandoned laundromat a nuisance, a tenant in a duplex adjoining the property chuckled and said, “It’s better than a five-story building!”