Two Recent Central Eastside Sales Transactions

Newhouse Hutchins Towing Property Sale

I have known Bruce Schneider, the owner of long time towing company, Newhouse Hutchins for over 8 years. He owns a large one acre site with a very cool vintage 1920’s, but very “tired” two story warehouse on the south end of the Central Eastside near SE Powell. The building has a huge 14’ ceiling basement and clearstory windows that are ripe for a usable mezzanine space and is generally ripe for redevelopment.

When you go in the warehouse and see the slapdash warren of offices it feels like your eccentric uncle’s place who was an auto mechanic is whole life. This old garage is the epitome of an old school towing business, with a boneyard full of vehicles, many in various states of disrepair along with car
and truck parts of all types and sizes that really don’t have much in common. It has a musty smell of oil and grease but weirdly comforting. Bruce would put in the periodic phone call to me when receiving my newsletter about the Central Eastside often asking about commercial property values and trends.

In the last few years, more importantly he wanted to know about how the laborious 6 year Comprehensive Plan process which was adopted in 2018 would affect his property and what all the wonky planning details really meant to a small business and property owner. His question, I soon learned, has some longer term reasons, as he knew that in the not too distant future he would want to exit stage left and sell his business and property and maybe hit a little white ball a bit more often in some places that had more palms than fir trees. Bruce wears his Duck colors proudly and has many of his tow trucks adorned in the green and yellow and rightly so as he was star lineman for them in the early 1960’s and he follows them closely often giving some spot on football analysis.

He always said he was “open’ to a sale but not quite there yet to list the property with a broker. He ended up trying to put a deal together with a tech firm that wanted to spend millions revamping his property but it went south after months of missed deadlines and promises. When it blew up last spring after almost a year of hassles, he called on me to help him put together a sale to long time developer in the south end of the Central Eastside (Ford Building and more); Mike Tevis of Trinsic Development who had previously showed a strong interest in buying the property. I have known Mike for over 15 years and who now has a portfolio of buildings in the Central Eastside nearing double digits, but also know he is one of the toughest negotiators around. I knew bringing these two football guys (Tevis was John Elway’s center at Stanford) together was going to be a gladiator sport. I often felt like a diminutive referee in a close and hard fought gridiron contest as the nature of the transaction had some twists and turns. We had to iron out a seller carried trust deed and note; arrange for Bruce to slowly wind down his business after closing; arrange for a lease for a part of the property to the group taking over Bruce’s business; line up timelines regarding a 1031 exchange and more. We got it done at a price ($3,200,000) and structure Bruce could live with and Mike got the flexibility and time he craves to get his handle on how best to renovate the property and find a tenant.

Schlesinger Companies Makes Foray Into The Central Eastside with Building Purchase

Priscilla Morehouse’s roots run deep in the Central Eastside, with her parents running one of the most successful glass companies in Portland for over 40 years. Morehouse Glass was a heavy hitter in Portland’s burgeoning and large cluster of glass businesses.

When the glass business was sold in 1976, she become involved in actively managing the tenants in several of her family’s former glass industrial buildings within the Central Eastside. She is very much a detailed person and loved the nuances of owning these key properties and the history of her family’s legacy in these buildings.

With the changing higher-use nature of the Central Eastside along with the city of Portland’s continued rules and regulations that are making it harder on property owners, she began to sour somewhat on the property management game and saw the writing on the wall as a time to take her property chips off the table with valuations at an all-time high.

She sold her larger building on SE 3rd and Mill over two years ago to a group led by local construction outfit, Lorentz Bruun, and investor, SKB, which have been converted into a higher-end beautiful creative office and maker project building called Glass Lab. She held on to a quarter block and 11,000 SF building on SE MLK/Main that was leased to Columbia Bank for many years, but who had vacated the property even though they had a couple years more to run on the lease.

She and I had been talking for years about the market, changes occurring both good and bad in the city and the Central Eastside, and to give her credit she keeps up meticulously on what is going on in the market and politically. With an empty building on a block where the other buildings were mostly empty, she grew to understand that the thought of a sale of this last building may be a good move. As Priscilla values local ownership, people and companies that do what they say they will do, I was able to connect her desire to potentially sell with a long time Portland family real estate investment group, Schlesinger Companies, who has a large commercial real estate portfolio. Under the guidance of their third generation of ownership, Schlesinger has been cruising the Central Eastside for the last few years for opportunities in a neighborhood they saw with big long term potential. Schlesinger made her a strong offer with a tight timeline that aligned with her goals and closed within 60 days to help facilitate her transition out of real estate ownership a positive experience.

“Todd DeNeffe is a deal maker and a winner. I have over a dozen properties in the Central Eastside and Todd was critical in this transaction with a very difficult Buyer (me) and a Seller going through all the tough decisions related to closing and selling his business of over 40 years and arranging his retirement. I can say this deal would have failed twice had it not been for Todd keeping it glued together. Nuances like a seller-leaseback, seller financing and buyers exchange were all aided by Todd’s expertise. Even harder was I am a Cal and Stanford backer and Todd and the Seller are big duck fans. I believe in Todd so I have hired him for the next phase of the project find tenants for the renovation of the property. He is a real pro.”

– Mike Tevis, Intrinsic Development