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PORTLAND-Oregon Health Sciences University moved closer to its planned North Macadam riverfront expansion late last week when it closed 18 acres there in partnership with developer Homer Williams.

The purchase option for the property was originally held by Williams, Gerding Edlen Development and Opus Northwest. Williams tells GlobeSt.com that Gerding Edlen and Opus signed over their purchase rights at OHSU’s request.

“We went in with (Opus) and (Gerding Edlen) and we were going to split up the property; they would take the OHSU parcels and we would take the parcels planned for housing and a parking garage,” Williams tells GlobeSt.com. “Then OHSU said it wanted to own its own land.”

The acreage is adjacent another 10 acres Williams already owns. The two properties together make up what is referred to as the area’s Central District. The general plan is for the 28-acre district to include OHSU facilities, several hundred residential units, a conference center and hotel development and office space.

After the 18 acres is officially divided, Williams says he will end up with the equivalent of three city blocks and OHSU will end up with four, “and we will jointly own the hotel site.”

Homer tells GlobeSt.com he plans to break ground on the first Central District building this time next year and complete the first phase — one building for OHSU and 200 residential units — in early 2005. By that time, Homer says he expects the city’s new streetcar line will have been extended through the area and an aerial tram will have connected the Central District to OHSU’s landlocked campus atop Marquam Hill.

OHSU’s lead attorney Steve Stadum tells GlobeSt.com that the university’s direct ownership of the parcel had been planned, either directly or indirectly. “Gerding Edlen and Opus were instrumental in assisting with the transaction because we are developing a relationship with them” that will likely result in the two firm handling development of OHSU’s North Macadam facilities.

Stadum adds that once the 18 acres are divided up, the buying entity, River Campus Investors LLC, will dissolve and OHSU will directly own their property and Williams will own his under North Macadam Investors LLC, the same entity that owns the adjacent 10-acre parcel.

The purchase price of the 18-acre parcel was not released by the parties involved and was not immediately otherwise available. It will be added to this story when obtained.

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