An epitaph for the Alpenrose Dairy of Portland
The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group newspapers are a media partner of KOIN 6 News
PORTLAND, Oregon (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) – Two years ago, a bitter intra-family fight erupted publicly and in court over the future of Alpenrose Dairy, a popular southwest Portland business that had been part of the community for 130 years.
It wasn’t just a dairy. It was a Christmas drive-through tradition for families, a haven for serious cyclists, a regular haunt for ESPN camera teams and national Little League tournaments, and more. For generations of families in the metro area, it has been woven into the fabric of their lives.
Today, the Alpenrose Velodrome, which was an important feature for Portland’s cycling community, is barricaded and closed, apparently for good.
The Little League ball fields and midget running track used by many children and families are also quiet.
Dairyville, the child-friendly “town” of the dairy used for clubs and community events, is fenced off to the public, the locks have changed on its faux Western-style storefronts.
The Portland Opera House – the 600-seat theater used by schools and the elderly for years – is being dismantled.
The dairy, which employs around 160 people, is still in operation, as the trunks in the tanks deliver the raw milk for processing, but the new owners are looking to relocate. Sticking to its controversial anti-public relations strategy, Smith Brothers Farms declined to answer questions from the Portland Tribune about its plans.
But the managing director of the company in Alpenrose told the Hayhurst Neighborhood Association last month that they plan to shut down in the next two to five years and build a new facility somewhere in the metro area, a location that will allow them to remain “the hometown dairy of Portland.”
“It could be Tualatin or Clackamas or something,” said director Josh Reynolds.
A cause probably lost
Despite the dairy’s imminent move, the voices that called loudly two years ago for the preservation of the property’s public uses are now largely calm, thanks to a cloak of confidentiality around the settlement talks that grew out of litigation. bitter between the dairy family.
“We just can’t give substantive answers to these issues,” lawyer Jonathan Radmacher said in an email. His customers had filed a unsuccessful lawsuit to block the sale and argued they should get it instead, while publicly promising to keep the dairy operating and its facility open to the public if they win.
The seemingly final chapter of the Alpenrose Dairy saga – the 52-acre site west of Shattuck Road near the Beaverton border and just north of the Hillsdale / Multnomah Village area – unfolds without the previous controversy, and without much attention at all.
Cathy Workman, who organized an online “Save Alpenrose Dairy” petition that garnered more than 15,500 signatures, has largely given up.
“For the community, it’s just heartbreaking,” she said. “The bond that we all had with the family, the land? It is, it’s just heartbreaking.
Neighbors also have, although some still wonder, “what if…”.
“I’ve often wondered why (the dairy owners) couldn’t make a deal with Metro, the City of Portland or some other agency to buy the ball fields and the velodrome,” said neighbor Marita Ingalsbe.
Still part of Portland
Named after a Swiss flower, the dairy has its roots in 1891, when Florian Cadonau began delivering milk to downtown Portland. His son, Henry, opened Alpenrose in 1916 with his wife, Rosina.
Their children, Carl and Anita, expanded the dairy, with Anita marrying into the Birkland family.
In the 1950s, following family tradition, Carl built the ball fields to prevent his own children from entering Rosina’s rose gardens. He also built Dairyville, offering family and fun activities including the opera house, miniature railroad clubs, and other features. The midget race track and the bicycle race track, or velodrome, followed.
In February 2019, Alpenrose Dairy’s story rose to prominence when younger members of the family who founded the family entertainment and dairy complex took legal action to prevent an older generation from Cadonaus and Birklands to sell it.
Members of the cycling community, Little League Baseball fans and others stood up to protest the sale, and for a while things calmed down as it looked like the deal was done.
But then the family struck a deal with Smith Brothers Farms, another family owned dairy business in Washington state.
The younger cadonaus took another lawsuit to block the sale, claiming the dairy and land should be sold to them. They lost and the sale was made, but the judge ordered both parties to mediate.
At the time, Smith Brothers said it had a two-year lease on the facility and hoped to continue operating it.
The family continued to own the land, and co-owner Rod Birkland said family members hoped to continue to allow community uses of the land, but insurers were reluctant.
When the pandemic hit, this question became moot.
Mike Workman, Cathy’s husband, volunteered throughout the dairy – “‘it was my sanctuary,” he says. And was close to the three family members who filed a lawsuit to block the sale of the dairy.
They aren’t returning his calls now, and he hears that two have moved. The third, Cary Cadonau, has been silent since a high-profile incident in January in which his close-up video recording of Portland mayor Ted Wheeler resulted in Wheeler spraying him with pepper.
The actions of Cadonau, a Trump supporter and apparently mask skeptic, sparked speculation he had sought to denounce Wheeler for not wearing a mask while eating outside.
Smith Brothers, which operates the facility as Alpenrose, built a milk delivery network similar to the model the company successfully built in Seattle – essentially trying to carve out a niche for itself as the Amazonian des refrigerated dairy products and products.
In February, local cycling organizations announced that the velodrome, which had been guaranteed for two years of operation, would have to close after all.
According to Planning Director Kim Tallant of the Portland Development Services Office, the city has not received any prior requests regarding the redevelopment of the land. This suggests that the property is not yet close to being sold.
The current owners or a new owner could apply to develop the land according to its current zoning – the rules, set by a city, for the type of new development that may be allowed in a given space.
Under current rules, the likely result would be less than 192 single-family homes, potentially set up in townhouses or other alternative arrangements, Tallant said. Developing such a plan could take a year.
Still, some people wonder if it’s too late to preserve the property. Joe Field, a lawyer and prominent member of the bike racing community who has co-hosted more than 50 events at the velodrome, believes the city and county of Multnomah should unite and launch a voting measure to preserve the land as a park, allowing its community uses to continue.
“It would make me proud,” he said.
But the county no longer operates parks, a spokeswoman noted.
When asked if he had considered the matter, a spokesperson for Wheeler abstained:
“The Mayor’s Office will continue to monitor developments around the site and remain interested in the future of the property,” said James Middaugh. “Right now, the mayor is focused on recovering from COVID, homelessness, public safety and cleaning up the city.”
Portland voters in 2019 approved a $ 475 million bond measure, the latest in a series launched by Metro, the regional planning agency, which has been touted as helping to protect property from development.
Multnomah County appraisers estimate the land occupied by the dairy is worth around $ 13 million.
Metro spokeswoman Carrie Belding told the Portland Tribune that the property is in two of 24 “target areas” for which $ 155 million has been set aside. Public meetings will help determine which properties will be purchased.
The needs are greater than the funds available, said Belding, “the public process of setting goals and priorities will therefore be extremely important.”