PDXplained: What We Learned About the Old ‘Comfy Inn’ in Kenton

Apartment construction is nothing new to North Portland (ICYMI, they’re going up everywhere), but the Kenton Korner development on N. Interstate Ave. has quite a story behind it. 

My sleuthing into that site began with a PDXplained question from reader Teresa Hill, who asked: “What’s going on with the old motel that’s being remodeled next to Disjecta? And while we’re at it, what is the history of that motel?” 

The motel in question is the Comfy Inn, which closed in 2012 and briefly became a shelter home before its current renovation. 

Here’s what else I learned about the building’s history and future:

From motel to transitional shelter

Aside from a single five-star review on TripAdvisor, there’s not much I could glean about the Comfy Inn’s time as a motel. 

But its two-year spell as a shelter is a different story. 

In 2015, Willamette Week published complaints from the Kenton Business Association about the shelter’s operator, Emmanuel Community Services, which had won a $300,000 contract to provide supervision and short-term housing to foster kids as they reunited with their families. 

“We are aware of at least two other similar transitional housing facilities being run in the neighborhood by different groups without issue and with documented success,” the Kenton Business Association wrote in its letter. “In the case of the old Comfy Inn, however…  we feel that all evidence points to the conclusion that ECS is ill-equipped to provide the services outlined in this contract.”

The complaints came only months after Emmanuel’s then-CEO Clayborn Collins decided to take a leave of absence following allegations he’d distorted his academic and professional record. It’s worth noting that three years later, Collins turned himself into police on charges of embezzlement.

An Emmanuel program manager defended the shelter’s record to GoLocalPDX, but ultimately its contract with the Multnomah Education Service District wasn’t renewed, and the shelter closed in June 2015.

What comes next?

Despite rumors that the Comfy Inn would reopen as a motel, the city’s records show that it’ll actually become an apartment complex.

The external structure will remain virtually the same, but the interior will be converted into 18 affordable housing units.  

There will also be space in the parking lot for a new food cart pod, which Eater first reported last spring.

Here are the detailed blueprints that show what DECA Architecture has in mind, and here are some photos from the construction site that I took last weekend.

Comfy Inn exterior

 

Comfy Inn exterior

 

Comfy Inn mural

 

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