The historic Multnomah County courthouse is on the market. On Thursday, the County Commission announced that the central courthouse, as well as the downtown headquarters for the county health department, are for sale. By officially declaring the two sites as county surplus, the process of marketing and selling them has begun. The county is already in the process of building replacements for both structures but will rent space elsewhere if the sale is completed prior to the new sites’ completions. The new courthouse has an estimated completion date in 2020 and will be located just west of the Hawthorne Bridge. The Old Town area will welcome the new county health department to its new location in 2019.
The 100-year-old courthouse occupies an entire block downtown and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Because of this designation, modifications to the courthouse’s exterior are restricted and the building cannot be torn down and rebuilt without approval by the Portland City Council. The brokerage company CBRE has been hired to handle the sale of both buildings. CBRE believes the current health department building would be ideal to house technology office space, however, it is undecided what the courthouse could be converted to use. Because this space is not up to current earthquake code, the possibilities are more limiting than the health department location. Officials estimate that the retrofitting the courthouse to comply with the earthquake standards would cost more than $70 million. The county plans to use the profits generated from the sales to pump back into the construction of the new sites.