Put-on at the Ritz

The Ritz-Carlton hotel and condo project in downtown Portland (where the food carts used to be on Alder) has quickly become known nationally as a prime example of how badly the federal tax code's "opportunity zone" rules can be abused. The "OZ" provisions were inserted into the tax law as part of the Trump tax changes of 2017, which remain in effect today thanks to the hopelessly inept Democratic Party. They were supposed to help poorer neighborhoods, but instead, they are used to build luxury condos and other properties for the rich.

So the Ritz deal was bad enough to begin with. But now, apparently, it's getting worse. The O tells us:

Portland developer Walter Bowen signed an agreement with the Portland Housing Bureau last March pledging to make 27 luxury condos in his opulent Ritz-Carlton tower affordable to people like the plumbers and drywallers working on the building.

At first blush, it seemed like a resounding victory for the city and a key affordable housing policy. But 2½ years after Bowen’s company broke ground on the project, it remains unclear what he intends to do.

What's even more unclear to me is who in their right mind would pay an obscene amount of money to own an apartment in Portland's downtown, which has gone way beyond seedy into Buckaroo Banzai territory. And high-end tourism? Ha! Ha!

I would hate to see the cash flow sheets on that turkey, even with the tax breaks. Maybe Dan Ryan can turn the place into a safe rest village.


  1. Terrific reporting by Jeff Manning at the Oregonian. He won't let go of this issue, I'm sure.


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