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SAN FRANCISCO-Harsch Investment Properties of Portland, Ore. is catching some heat for pricing tenants out of Four Fifty Sutter Street, the downtown medical office tower it recently spent several million dollars upgrading.

According to this morning’s Oregonian newspaper, 96 physicians and dentists on month-to-month contracts received notices in August that in September their rents would increase anywhere from 40% to 1,400%. In one case, a dentist was informed his rent would increase from $2,800 a month to $8,000. In another case, a neurologist rent was increased from $1,455 a month to $3,545.57, and told non-medical tenants – the Internet market research company KiraCom Corp. is one – would soon be moving in.

“I took that to mean they really wanted us out,” Dr. Marilyn Robertson, the neurologist, told the Portland-based newspaper. “So I started looking right away for another place for my office.”

The hike has spawned complaints to local medical societies as well as the San Francisco Board of City and County supervisors, which held a special meeting to discuss the complaints last month. But Harsch Investment says the rents have been far below market for a long time, the increase is not as much as it could have been and, when you lease space on a month-to-month basis, that’s what happens.

Indeed, Harsch Investment president Jordon Schnitzer, according to the Oregonian, would have this to say to a doctor asking for his rent to be kept low: “Tell me, doctor so and so, what do you charge your patients? Are you charging them less than your going rate? Are you subsidizing your patients?”

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