Home / Blog / WW’s Mystery Buildings on Northeast Alberta Street Are No Longer a Mystery, but They Are Still a Mess

WW’s Mystery Buildings on Northeast Alberta Street Are No Longer a Mystery, but They Are Still a Mess

Jul 19, 2023Jul 19, 2023

Since August, readers have been sending us addresses for vacant buildings, and we’ve been sleuthing out the circumstances behind their sad, empty condition.

We’ve written about the Taft Home and the Quality Pie Building. We know what happened to Poor Richard’s and Gordon’s Fireplace Shop. We told you why a Mormon meetinghouse on Southeast Harrison Street stands empty.

In all that work, we found only one place where two Mystery Buildings stood bruised cheek by battered jowl: Northeast 28th Avenue and Alberta Street. There, amid blocks of luxe bakeries, posh home decor shops, and one too many Thai restaurants, stand two derelicts.

On the southeast corner is a decrepit warehouse with a backyard full of wrecked cars, mattresses, machinery, and a lot of trash. Just across 28th stands a once-lovely building that started shedding bricks from the second story in October.

Together, they make quite a pair. A bit of their history:

The warehouse is owned by Gregory J. Martin, according to property records. He’s an electrician who decades ago had enough money to buy up a bunch of real estate in Northeast Portland. He still owns a derelict house just north of Alberta in the 5100 block of Northeast 23rd Avenue and at least three other properties in the Mississippi neighborhood.

All of Martin’s properties have been hit with nuisance complaints. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Across 28th stands another monument to neglect. The brick-dropping building was built in 1917 and is controlled by Erzsebet Eppley, who has an address in Lake Oswego, according to city records. Reached by phone in October, Eppley said she was the custodian for the building, not the owner. “The owner is a child, and I’m not giving you their name,” Eppley said.

The building was once home to Al Forno Ferruzza, a Sicilian pizza place that opened in 2009 and closed in 2014. At the time, owner Stephen Ferruzza said in a statement that he had to close because a pipe burst and the landlord didn’t act in time to prevent an “excessive mold buildup” that “rendered the building unsafe for our workers and customers.”

After the bricks fell onto the sidewalk along 28th, the city fenced off the whole building, forcing pedestrians into the street on 28th and onto busy Alberta. A cherry-picker arrived sometime after, and workers removed loose bricks that remained. The cherry picker is gone now, but the fencing is still up, detouring holiday shoppers in the street.

Ken Ray, a spokesman for the city’s Bureau of Development Services, says an engineer has evaluated the building. “The sidewalk remains closed to protect the public until repairs are made,” Ray said in an email.

Things are worse at the warehouse. A month ago, the alley on the east side of the building was partially obstructed by an abandoned car and an ancient forklift. Now, it’s completely blocked by a shelter built from a patio umbrella and some bamboo fencing. A wooden highway barricade stands there, too.

The city sent a letter to Martin on Nov. 7, citing two violations, one for the tent in the alley and another for having downspouts that are disconnected from “an approved disposal system,” Ray said. Martin has until Jan. 6 to correct the violations.

The city also cited Martin for the trash and debris and will inspect the property again after Christmas, Ray said. If the problems are not corrected, the city will seek an administrative warrant to hire a contractor and remove the junk, at Martin’s expense.

“That process could take another two to four weeks,” Ray said.