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PORTLAND, OR-Mayor Tom Potter has given the Portland Development Commission some breathing room to clean up a mess surrounding its selection of a developer for the $200-million-plus Burnside Bridgehead redevelopment.Late last month, the city’s urban renewal agency went against an evaluation committee’s unanimous recommendation of Beam Development and unanimously chose the committee’s second choice, Opus Northwest. When Beam filed a formal protest to the decision, the PDC was caught unprepared. Earlier in the RFP process, the PDC had changed the final decision maker from PDC executive director Don Mazziotti to the whole commission, but failed to make the same modification to the procedure for processing a formal protest to its decision. As a result, when Beam Development protested the PDC’s selection of Opus Northwest, the procedure called for Mazziotti to decide the protest. The problem with that: “A staff person can’t overturn the decision of a public body,” PDC general counsel Matt Baines tells GlobeSt.com.According to the flawed procedure, an initial decision with regard to the protest should have been made last week. This week, the PDC is scrambling to create a new process whereby the commission will make the final decision on the protest. “As of now, we don’t have a process,” Baines tells GlobeSt.com.The mayor last week bought the agency a little breathing room by requesting that Opus and Beam discuss a possible collaboration that could resolve the issue, and the developers agreed. PDC chairman Matt Hennessee took advantage of the opportunity by putting the protest process it isn’t ready to begin anyway on hold until that discussion runs its course, according to published reports.There is no timeline for the discussions between Opus and Beam and no timeline for the PDC deciding the protest. Neither Beam principal Brad Malsin nor Bruce Wood, Opus’ independent project manager, could be reached Friday for comment.The Burnside Bridgehead land covers a five-block area between Northeast Second Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Burnside and Northeast Everett streets. Beam’s $245-million, 1.7-million-sf proposal calls for 267 housing units, 217,000 sf of office, 169,800 sf of light manufacturing space and 120,340 sf of retail. Opus $200-million, 1.3-million-sf proposal calls for 527 housing units, 120,050 sf of retail, 87,820 sf of light manufacturing space and 23,447 sf of office space. The housing units include 392 for-sale units and 135 affordable apartments. Beam was unanimously selected as the preferred developer in late April by an evaluation committee. One week later, however, the PDC unanimously chose the runner up, Opus, saying Opus had the most experience in large projects and requested the smallest PDC subsidy. In its protest, Beam alleges that PDC commissioners “failed to fully disclose” pre-existing relationships with members of the proposing teams and their subcontractors until late in the process, relationships Beam alleges “improperly favored” Opus Northwest. The protest also alleges “improper communications” between the PDC and Opus, and; that the PDC changed the evaluation criteria and selection process mid-stream, violated Oregon’s public meeting laws, and failed to provide a written explanation for its decision, among other things.

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