That sound you heard early this morning was thousands of mouthfuls of coffee being blown out Portlanders' noses as they got to the story in the Oregonian headlined, "Hotel above Macy's overshoots its budget." And that projectile coffee didn't happen because the readers were laughing, trust me.
As noted earlier on Crosscut, the reopening of the former Meier & Frank building, which houses Macy's, was an occasion for celebration in these parts – a needed boost to downtown Portland during massive street tear-ups for transit expansion.
But as much as people love seeing the historic store bustling after a swell re-do, the problems with the deluxe hotel, The Nines, slated to occupy the top floors, is turning out to be something not so festive, as O reporter Ryan Frank notes:The hotel above downtown Portland's renovated Macy's store is $15 million over its construction budget and its developers want an infusion of public money to finish. Sage Hospitality Resources of Denver has defaulted on its construction loan because it can't cover what's now a $133 million renovation. The developer has until Dec. 31 to plug the budget gap. On Wednesday, Portland's urban-renewal agency, the Portland Development Commission, will consider boosting its low-interest loans by $3 million to $16.9 million. Ask anyone who's undertaken a project to overhaul vintage digs: When you break into walls in a 1909 building, you're bound to find surprises – lead, asbestos, and worse. That's part of what's happened with this project, but the sheer scale of the bad estimate is going to ignite some serious challenges from taxpayers and downtown-project watchers. Right after they wipe the coffee off their shirts.