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  • 20 Oct 2014

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Neighbors save old Northwest house

by: KOIN NEWS 6 - Karen Karlsson is one of a group of residents who bought a house in their NW Portland neighborhood to save it from a developer.The key to saving an historic home in Northwest Portland from the wrecking ball was the neighborhood association working with the developer instead of against him.

The house at NW 24th and Quimby was purchased by developer Martin Kehoe. He planned to tear it down and replace it with seven row homes.

But neighbors fought through the city to stop the demolition. They got temporary delays and met several times with Kehoe.

That last meeting late last week saved the house.

“Tempers get up a bit in those meetings and people tend to be not happy,” Kehoe told KOIN 6 News.

Standing outside the house, Kehoe said it wasn’t easy deciding the house’s fate. Eventually, he opted to sell it to a neighborhood group.

“I certainly don’t make anywhere near what I would’ve made had I developed the property,” he said.

Rick Michaelson and Karen Karlsson are two of the 20 people who pitched in to save the 4000-square foot house.

“(Kehoe) is making enough money to be comfortable walking away with it,” Michaelson said. “And it’s a price that we think we’ll break even on.”

He said some people even took out a second mortgage and used credit cards to help pay the price.

“We’ve got one person who is taking a loan on their retirement,” Karlsson told KOIN 6 News. “Other people who are taking personal lines of credit and pulling money out of it.”

The group plans to restore the house and they had to buy the entire parcel of land, including another smaller home. It’s not clear what they will do with that, they said.

“(Kehoe) thought that we were just anti-development and we’re not,” Karlsson said. “We just care about certain places like this house.”

The developer said the group’s persistence and willingness to work with — rather than against — him are what ultimately preserved this piece of Portland history.

“To know that the house is going to stay here, it’ll be completely renovated and there’ll probably be a family living her, that’s a pretty neat thing,” Kehoe said.