Greater public transparency is needed for the Portland Building renovation, according to an audit released Wednesday by City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero. The Portland Building is an active construction site and renovation is forecasted to be completed ahead of schedule. In this follow-up to the 2016 audit of the project’s initial phase, we found:
• Projected costs for Portland Building grew to $214 million, including side projects critical to delivering a functional building. This is about 10 percent more than the planned $195 million budget.
• The City is on track to meet the baseline renovation goals but will fall short of other aspirations. For example, the exterior design chosen to address water leaks will result in the building’s delisting from the National Register of Historic Places.
• About $1 million in planned equity grants to improve diversity in the construction workforce and among subcontractors was not spent, and there was no report to Council or 2018 applicants about the status.
“The City’s track record on keeping its promises to address historical inequities and improve workforce diversity in Portland’s construction industry is abysmal,” said City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero. “It was painful to learn that money had been set aside and grant proposals submitted, but no action taken.”
The Auditor’s Office will take a broader look at the City’s community benefit agreements in a future audit.