The For Sale sign seems nondescript beside the neon lights of the Sugar Shack Strip Club in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood, but to many community members the sign was a much awaited answer to prayers.
For years, local nonprofits attempted to buy the property. Others simply hoped the owners would relocate. Situated across the street from two community centers, a pediatric health clinic, school bus stops, and hundreds of units of affordable family housing, residents feel the block-sized strip club detracts from Cully’s positive community development.
Cully remains one of Portland’s most racially and economically diverse neighborhoods. Over recent years, residents teamed with local nonprofits to enact tremendous transformations improving neighborhood livability.
Yet the Sugar Shack remained a central eyesore – until now.
When the For Sale sign went up this past summer, community members jumped to action. Among them was Maabi Munoz, the coordinator of the local nonprofit Verde.
“From that moment on, it has been, ‘let’s go! Let’s get it! How are we going to get it?’” Munoz told Koin 6 News.
Several nonprofits teamed together to invest $55,000 for the purchase – a small dent in the nearly $3 million price tag. The group then turned to a massive fundraising campaign through the crowdfunding site Indie Go-Go.
“It’s not a matter of if we get it, it’s when we get it and we need to get it,” said Munoz.
The seller of the Sugar Shack property has accepted the group’s offer. With 85 days remaining to acquire the necessary funds, the online campaign has raised just over $12,000.
“If we can buy the Sugar Shack Strip Club, then we can make sure redevelopment of the property serves Cully’s needs by creating jobs, supporting local businesses, educating youth, and engaging community,” the fundraising site reads.
The organizations behind the campaign include Verde, Hacienda, Living Cully, and Habitat for Humanity. These same nonprofits are working to improve Portland’s Cully neighborhood through other beneficial projects. The Let Us Build Cully Park coalition transformed a closed landfill into a new 25 acre park. Hacienda built affordable housing, while Habitat for Humanity and Verde provided critical home repairs and weatherization services to Cully homeowners.
Although exact plans for the renovation remain undecided, the new facility will focus on improving the Cully community, according the Munoz.
“When we get the Sugar Shack and we build something, I know it will be something to benefit the children and families in this neighborhood,” Munoz said.