Portland campus of Concordia University sold to church moneylender

The former Concordia University campus in northeast Portland is officially in the hands of a new owner, well known to the previous owners. But we still don’t know what will happen to the property in the long run.

The Lutheran Church Extension Fund bought the property for $ 3 million Tuesday afternoon at a foreclosure auction outside the Multnomah County Courthouse.

The Extension Fund was a lender of Concordia Portland.

The Lutheran Church Extension Fund is a nonprofit financial institution “dedicated to supporting the workers, congregations and organizations of the Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod,” according to Joe Russo, director of marketing for the Missouri Synod. LCEF.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is the organization that oversees the Concordia university system, including the Old Portland Campus and several other campuses across the United States. There were no further bids at the auction on Tuesday.

It’s unclear what the Lutheran Church Extension Fund can do with the property, which until last year was the site of Oregon’s largest private university. It closed in the spring of 2020.

According to the property sale notice, Concordia University was in default of more than $ 36 million in loans it had received from the Extension Fund.

Below an Oregon law, once a non-judicial foreclosure sale, like this one, has been conducted, no further action can be brought against an “insufficiency” – an excess of money owed, such as a loan. This means that Concordia-Portland’s debt to the Extension Fund has essentially disappeared.

A few people, mostly residents of the Concordia neighborhood, stand outside the Multnomah County Courthouse on June 29, 2021, to listen to the foreclosure auction proceedings.

Meerah Powell

Still, the old university has other ongoing financial and legal issues.

A tech company called HotChalk sued the university last year, claiming the former institution owes it more than $ 300 million for a partnership in which HotChalk helped Concordia with its online education program. The Synod of the Lutheran Church of Missouri and its Extension Fund are both also defendants in this case. A jury trial for the trial is scheduled for October, according to court records. Parts of HotChalk have been bought last year by technology company Noodle.

The closed university is also facing a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 90 former students seeking reimbursement of their lost tuition fees. In the complaint, the students say they would not have paid the tuition fees if they had known of the impending closure.

The Oregonian / OregonLive too reported last year that the Oregon Department of Justice was opening an investigation into Concordia-Portland – specifically to see if Concordia had violated the “Oregon Nonprofit Corporations Act” or any other law.

At the time of the auction on Tuesday, it was unclear what the Expansion Fund would do with the property – whether they could keep it or sell it back to another buyer, especially with the litigation ongoing.

The Concordia property is zoned as an “Institutional Campus”, which allows you to use the land for educational and medical facilities as well as parks and open spaces. If the Expansion Fund, or another future buyer, wants to use the old campus for something else, such as housing or commercial development, they will need to get permission from the city.

Peter Keller, president of the Concordia Neighborhood Association, said it’s something area residents will follow.

“The neighborhood would really like the property that Concordia was on to be a similar type of institution – educational or other similar zoned purpose,” Keller said.

Keller said the neighborhood association recently conducted an informal survey of residents, business owners and others who frequent or work in the area, to get a feel for what people want to see happen to them. old private university.

According to the multiple choice survey, in which 350 people took part, around half of those polled said they wanted the property to remain a school. About 20% said they would like to see it become a community center. The rest of the respondents had various other ideas: housing, a medical center, a retirement home or transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness.

“Who knows what they will do with the property,” Keller said of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.

Expansion Fund spokesperson Russo told OPB by email on Wednesday that the LCEF plans to sell the property in the “near future.”

“We work with local Portland real estate experts who are very knowledgeable about the property and understand the needs and wants of this community,” said Russo. “We look forward to positioning the property in such a way that it can be reused for good for the community. We will continue to care for, protect and preserve the property until a suitable buyer is found.

Under Oregon law, the expansion fund will receive the deed of ownership from Concordia-Portland within 10 days. From there, he can start moving forward with any potential plans.

Editor’s Note: Previous reports have misinterpreted the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. The Extension Fund is separate from the Synod of the Lutheran Church of Missouri, but the Fund supports the Synod and the two nonprofit entities share the same religious faith and similar missions.