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How To Lose A Million Bucks. Bend Style. 

Down at the bottom of tomorrow's (Wednesday's) council agenda is a real estate item of interest to those of us who have been following the

Down at the bottom of tomorrow's (Wednesday's) council agenda is a real estate item of interest to those of us who have been following the city of Bend's aggressive real estate and development dance over the past few years. It's a notice of a public hearing of an intent to put the old Bulletin property on the market four years after the city acquired it a premium price from local developers Todd Taylor and Jeff Pickhardt.

At the time the city paid almost $4.7 million for the site that the council was eyeing as a potential home for a new city hall. Mind you the city council didn't actually have the money at the time for a new city hall, nor did it actually need a new building. Rather the city was looking for some more legroom for its then fast-growing staff.

In a shell game that's ‘like so totally 2005' the city council was contemplating a deal that would have seen it sell its downtown home to the highest bidder and use the proceeds from the presumably wildly profitable sale to fund construction of a new city hall building to house its armies of planners and permit techs.

In the most "pie in the sky" scenario the city was going to work with the potential buyer to build a public plaza between the library and the school admin building.

Like I said, so 2005...

Four years later the city is flat broke and the real estate market is beyond bust. All those planners and permit techs have packed their bags and headed elsewhere after round after round of lay-offs. And that's not intended as a slight; these were hardworking civil servants - just an acknowledgement of making long-range decisions in a short-term bubble.

Now the city is finally waking up to reality - and a harsh one it is.

Cash strapped the city is prepared to take in the shorts by putting the old Bulletin site on the market for an asking price of $3.5 million-a more than $1 million shortfall from its purchase price.

This isn't to say that the city made a horrible investment, or got duped. Everyone got burned in the collapse. The question is whether they should have been playing the real estate game with taxpayer money in the first place.

Now take the current situation, multiply it by a factor of 100 or so and you've got Juniper Ridge.

Somewhere, Dave Malkin is shaking his head in dismay.


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