Tradeswomen deconstruct Sugar Shack strip club for neighborhood development in Cully

By: Jon Bell - Nov 10, 2015
Source: Portland Business Journal

A group of women were hard at work at the Sugar Shack in Northeast Portland last week, but their work was of an entirely different nature than what used to go on in the former strip club.

These women, all pre-apprenticeship students from Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.'s construction trades career class, were demolishing the interior of the old club. Their work is the hands-on portion of seven-week course, which also includes classroom instruction to prepare them for careers in the building trades.

But it's also part of a bigger effort to turn the former adult businesses — there were several located on the triangular property at Northeast Killingsworth Street and Cully Boulevard — into something that's much more of a community asset.

"It's really a transformation of that site into a place that the whole community can use," said Mary Ann Naylor, communications manager for OTI.

Back in July, a coalition of community groups and residents banded together in a company called Living Cully Plaza LLC to purchase the two-acre site for $2.3 million. The entity includes Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East, Hacienda CDC and Verde. Funding came largely in the form of public and private loans along with a crowd-funding campaign.

No definitive plans have been made for the site just yet, but Tony DeFalco, Living Cully coordinator, said the goals have been laid out.

"We are trying to create jobs, meet community needs around retail services and preserve affordability, both commercial and residential," he said. "The ideal project would hit as many of those things as possible."