Rising above the Northwest Portland skyline is a sign drivers can’t miss as they travel over the Fremont Bridge to the west side. Huge neon letters — which light up red at night — spell out two words against a forested backdrop: Montgomery Park.
The Montgomery Park building is a Portland landmark, but its future is uncertain after its owners defaulted on millions of dollars in debt. Now, the structure at 2701 NW Vaughn St. appears to be heading to the auction block.
100 years and counting
When it opened in 1921, the building — known then as Montgomery Ward — was the largest in Portland and an example of cutting-edge architecture.
Built on the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition grounds, the nine-story, 569,000-sqft structure featured fireproof, steel-reinforced concrete. It housed a mail-order catalog warehouse for Montgomery Ward & Company, as well as offices and loading areas.
A wing was added to the building’s northwest corner about 15 years later — changing the structure’s overall shape from an L to a U — and making room for retail space and a massive glass atrium.
The iconic, steel-framed sign crowning the building went up in 1925. “Montgomery Ward” was renamed “Montgomery Park” after Bill Naito bought the building in the mid-1980s. Filings to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places reported the sign as the largest in Portland.
Where it’s going
Global investment management firm Partners Group and Seattle-based Unico Properties (the owner of the U.S. Bancorp Tower) bought Montgomery Park in 2019 for $255 million. But a lender now intends to foreclose on a loan tied to the complex because the borrowers owe over $149 million, according to documents filed in Multnomah County.
Montgomery Park — whose current tenants include Adidas — is expected to go up for sale to the highest bidder on Feb. 14, 2024, outside the Multnomah County Courthouse.