Acker & Associates P.C. moved to the Figo House in 2005 to accommodate its growing practice. The building allows the firm to remain in downtown Portland but also provide parking and convenient access for clients. Built in 1894, the building was described by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as a good example of a vernacular Queen Ann house.
TriMet, a local transportation development authority, sought to acquire the house through the use of its eminent domain powers. TriMet argued that it needed the land for public transportation purposes. TriMet had already begun the Portland Mall Project, consisting of the construction of tracks for a new MAX train running through the heart of downtown Portland and parallel to the Willamette River. TriMet intended to request additional funds from the Federal Transit Administration to acquire the property and demolish the house.
Simultaneously, TriMet was negotiating a "confidential" agreement with Portland State University (PSU) wherein TriMet would acquire the property and then transfer it to PSU for the construction of a large dormitory.
Starting in December of 2006, Acker & Associates P.C. fought to preserve the house. The fight took the form of an investigation of TriMet, its intentions and its records; and protracted negotiations and meetings with its representatives. Acker & Associates P.C. conferred with city, state and federal agencies; neighborhood organizations; and preservation groups. A press campaign resulted in coverage by all the major newspapers in the area. Pamphlets and even "Save the Figo House" buttons were created and distributed.
On February 8, 2008, TriMet delivered a letter to Acker & Associates P.C. stating that it is no longer considering the possibility of acquiring the Figo House. The letter further provides that TriMet and PSU will proceed with development options that will not include the Figo House.
For an update, click here.
House Divided: One man and his 113-year-old property vs. Trimet Willamette Week (Dec. 5, 2007)
Leave the house alone Editorial, The Oregonian (Jan. 7, 2008)
Last house standing Daily Vanguard (Jan. 25, 2008)
TriMet decides not to buy old Figo House near PSU The Oregonian (Feb. 8, 2008)
Figo house to stay standing Daily Vanguard (Feb. 12, 2008)
The push back Daily Vanguard (Feb. 18, 2009)
PSU moving forward on new residence hall (May 29, 2010)