Church of Scientology buys Stevens Building

Portland Business Journal/January 9, 2008

After a years-long search for a building to call its own, The Church of Scientology of Portland has acquired the historic Stevens Building in an all-cash deal for $5.38 million.

The sale was fueled by donations from church members. At 12 stories, it is the tallest building ever acquired by a local chapter of the Church of Scientology, according to Butler Brokers Commercial Realtors, which handled both sides of the transaction.

In November, former owner Joseph Weston donated the building, which is at 812 S.W. Washington St., to a foundation he established through the Oregon Community Foundation.

Proceeds from the sale will support the charitable efforts of the OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation.

The Church of Scientology apparently is encouraging current tenants to move out before their leases expire. Its plans include renovating the building and eventually relocating all of its operations from a spot near Southwest Salmon and Broadway.

American Property Management Corp., which managed the building on behalf of both Weston and the OCF, told tenants of the sale on Tuesday.

"It is our understanding that the new owners of the building plan to occupy the majority of the building after completion of a building renovation. They may be receptive to a move-out prior to your lease expiration," American said in a message offering to help tenants find new office space.

According to CoStar, the commercial real estate information service, the 56,480-square-foot building has a vacancy rate of about 14 percent. Integra Realty, a commercial appraisal firm, is among its larger tenants.

Neither the OCF nor the Church of Scientology could be reached Wednesday to comment on the transaction.

According to county records, the Stevens Building has a market value of $840,960 and is assessed at $268,220. Its 2007 tax bill was $5,839.78.

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