February 1, 2024
Contact: Shawn Uhlman, Prosper Portland, 503-823-7994
Prosper Portland’s Board Authorizes Insurance Company Settlement of Broadway Corridor Project Contract Dispute Lawsuit
Prosper Portland strongly disagrees with the unsubstantiated allegations of discrimination; 93 percent of the Broadway Corridor site preparation work has been performed by COBID-certified disadvantaged enterprise and minority business enterprise firms
Portland, Ore. — Today, the Prosper Portland Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 to authorize a settlement with Northwest Infrastructure LLC (NWI) regarding a dispute on a demolition contract for the Broadway Corridor project site.
NWI, a local African American-owned and COBID-certified MBE/DBE firm, was a finalist in the 2020 demolition contract procurement process; the project was awarded to a partnership of Northwest Demolition and Dismantling (NWDD), an Alaska Native-owned firm, and Raimore Construction, an African American-owned COBID-certified MBE/DBE firm. NWI protested the award of the contract to NWDD/Raimore, alleging racial discrimination and other improprieties in the selection process. NWI filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland and Prosper Portland in May 2021, seeking $5.5 million in damages.
“We simply do not agree, at all, with the allegations made by NWI. We conducted a thorough review and there is no evidence to back up the accusation,” said Tavo Cruz, Prosper Portland’s board chair. “The settlement decision isn’t an easy one. However, to avoid using taxpayer funds to cover the significant costs of going to trial or a future settlement, and to refocus Prosper Portland’s efforts on advancing the community-shaped vision of the Broadway Corridor district, we are authorizing this settlement.”
Details of the 2020 procurement process, NWI’s allegations, and steps Prosper Portland took to resolve NWI’s original protest before ultimately dividing the scope of work into two new RFPs — one of which was awarded to NWI, and the other to NWDD/Raimore — are outlined in a report to Prosper Portland’s board. The settlement terms call for Prosper Portland’s insurer to pay NWI $1,300,000, and in exchange, NWI will dismiss the lawsuit and release Prosper Portland from any claims related to the facts underlying the lawsuit.
Under Prosper Portland’s liability insurance coverage through Glatfelter Insurance Group, the insurer controls the defense of NWI’s lawsuit, and recently decided to settle the lawsuit, noting “this was a business decision to settle the case and should not be construed as an admission of liability or an admission that Prosper Portland engaged in discrimination.”
“We understand the harm caused by the pernicious role systemic racism can play in business decisions and are committed to combating those effects in our work. As a learning organization, Prosper Portland is not afraid to admit when we’ve done wrong and to change course. That is simply not the case here,” said Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam.
Prosper Portland is committed to advancing racial equity and delivering economic growth and opportunity for all Portland residents. That commitment has resulted in the evolution of initiatives like Prosper Portland’s Construction Business and Workforce Equity Policy. The Board approved April 2021 updates, which increased the Certified Firm participation goal to 22 percent, and implemented a sub-goal of 14 percent Minority Business Enterprise (“MBE”) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) participation.
“I am extremely proud of the business and workforce equity results we achieved with the USPS building, where the NWDD/Raimore partnership resulted in 98 percent of the contract invested in COBID-certified firms. Those are unprecedented numbers and something we all should celebrate,” said Prosper Portland Commissioner Serena Stoudamire Wesley. “I expect we will continue to see outstanding results as we move to, and through, the next phases of work happening to prepare the Broadway Corridor site for our community.”
“We are incredibly proud of the work that has been carried out by the NWDD/Raimore team in preparing this significant site for redevelopment,” said Sanai Monae Hennessee, co-chair of the Labor Management Community Oversight Committee (LMCOC). “This project is a testament to the fact that if you are intentional about your goals, you can not only meet them but exceed them. I appreciate the partnership with Prosper Portland in moving forward with and remaining committed to the community benefits we negotiated as the Healthy Communities Coalition. I have valued my role in the LMCOC in achieving such remarkable outcomes.”