Downtown Portland’s ‘open air drug market’ now completely boarded up with plywood

More than a month after an open-air drug market was cleared from the heart of Downtown Portland, it has been completely boarded up.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 5:07 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - More than a month after an open-air drug market was cleared from the heart of Downtown Portland, the property owner of the abandoned Washington Center is taking more steps to keep it from coming back.

This week, Menashe Property hired crews to build a wall of plywood in front of the Washington Center’s largest overhang. When the initial wood went up to secure the building, the plaza on the corner of Southwest Washington and 5th Avenues was left open. But until this week, those who live and work in the area said the drug market moved to that location. Delana Quinn works security for other high-rises in the area. She hopes this new round of plywood will keep people away.

“Open drug use still happens but the more boards up, the fewer places they have to actually do it,” Quinn said.

SEE ALSO: Fentanyl called ‘greatest threat’ of all drugs in Portland area

Other people FOX 12 spoke with off-camera said since the initial plywood went up, drug dealing and drug use have just dispersed into the street further away from the Washington Center. One of our crews took a walk around the area and saw much of what neighbors described. Quinn said the boards aren’t a solution to the city’s drug and addiction crisis, but it’s kept the open-air drug market from popping back up.

“It’s helped tremendously we’re definitely not utilizing as much Narcan,” Quinn said.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler sent FOX 12 a statement about the property owner’s continued effort to try to put an end to the problems:

“I’m grateful that the property owners are continuing to secure the site which is a commitment they made during the initial board-up of the Washington Center building. My expectation is for efforts to continue in the weeks ahead, which includes working to address loitering. I look forward to the demolition or re-sale of this property to allow downtown to move forward.”

FOX 12 did reach out to Menashe Properties to see if they’re planning on selling or demolish the building, but we didn’t hear back.