PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Development Commission board of commissioners approved a sale of city-owned property last month, paving the way to transfer the parcel into the hands of a developer who still has roughly $75,000 in unpaid contractor fines and debts that racked up over the years.
The city-owned parcel is located at 6931 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The 16,000-square-foot lot became the PDC’s property in 2011 following the property’s former tenant defaulting on a loan it had received from the PDC. The development commission negotiated a deal with the county and accepted the deed for the property while writing off the debtor’s outstanding $416,430 debt.
Since that time the property has been vacant, and early this year the PDC began working to sell it. Last month the board of commissioners accepted an offer from Geza Development LLC, who will pay $415,000 for the parcel and plans to move its business operations to the site.
Geza Development LLC does not have a current business license according to state records, its status marked as “inactive” following an “administrative dissolution” in April. Licensing issues, though, are nothing new for Geza Development registrant Meron Alemseghed.
Alemseghed registered Urban Structures LLC in August 2009. Between then and the business’s “expiration after a lapse” in 2011, Urban Structures had its license suspended 10 times. Some of the revocations were due to unpaid construction debts, while others were unspecified “emergency” suspensions.
When the business shut down in 2011 it had a number of debts that remain unpaid four years later.
Urban Structures has more than $13,000 in unpaid fines from the Oregon construction contractors board (CCB) and more than $60,000 in unpaid debts related to construction jobs.
The $60,000 stems from eight complaints lodged against the developer through the CCB’s dispute resolution services department. Those eight complaints ranged from disputes between the sub-contractor and Urban Structures, the homeowner and Urban Structures, and the material supplier against Urban Structures. The eight complaints were determined by the CCB to have merit, and the board ordered the developer to pay the debts.
But the outstanding balance listed on the CCB’s website indicates that payment was never received.
Another business registered to Alemseghed, 336 Alberta LLC, has an outstanding CCB fine of $1,189 due to a 2013 infraction for working without a license.
All in all the outstanding debts total about $75,000.
Between the expiration of Urban Structures LLC and now, Alemseghed has been involved in development under the Geza Development LLC name. This business does not have a contractor license, instead listing the contractor on its projects as Dozer Construction LLC.
Dozer Construction is registered to Jennifer Farmer and Alemseghed’s name does not appear on official business registration or CCB records, but in application intake records his name appears affiliated with the business, and its address is sometimes listed as the same as that of Geza Development. During the PDC hearing on the property sale Alemseghed said he is the general manager of Dozer Construction.
The $415,000 sale was approved Oct. 14 by the PDC board of commissioners. During the hearing Will Thier, PDC senior project and program coordinator, explained that Geza Development plans to locate its offices on the site and that a five-year restriction barring development on the site is part of the sales agreement.
“They’re currently renting space in the local area but would like to own,” he said of the developer.
There was no discussion of Alemseghed’s outstanding debts from prior development companies during the hearing. Chair Tom Kelly said the sale “seems to be very fitting in our policies and our efforts to further the strategic plan,” and the motion to sell the property passed unanimously.