Portland OR – The U.S. Custom House, located at 220 NW 8th Avenue overlooking the North Park Blocks, has been sold after four prior attempts failed. The 78,838 square foot office building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973. Built in an Italian Renaissance Revival style in 1901, the Custom House has housed various federal agencies and been a backdrop for several television productions since 1968, when the U.S. Customs Service moved to a larger space. The U.S. General Services Administration, deeming it as surplus, put the building up for auction in 2010 as a last ditch effort to dispose of the building. Prior attempts to sell the building privately were unsuccessful mainly because of the high cost of modernizing the aging structure, which was indicated to be roughly $20 million dollars.
Initially a developer won the bid in 2008 to renovate the building into a boutique hotel. That having fallen through, the U.S. Department of Education gave the building to The International School, but the renovation costs proved overwhelming. Last year, locally-based Prem Group won the auction; but the deal eventually fell through and the on-line bidding was active once again.
The auction’s successful bidder was Eastern Real Estate LLC of California and Massachusetts, agreeing to pay $4.74 million for the historic building. It is not clear what the future plans are for the Custom House, but the firm specializes in retail centers and hotels. Per The Oregonian, the firm’s principal Brian Kelly issued a statement reading: ” We are thrilled and honored to be the new stewards of this important piece of Portland history. It is an absolute gem of the Pearl District and the city, and we look forward to the building’s active use of the North Park Blocks.”
Photos by Author.