Merlin Radke Donated His Auto Parts Shop to Warner Pacific … – Willamette Week

6666 N Columbia Way. (Michael Raines)
Address: 6666 N Columbia Way
Year built: 1925
Square footage: 14,500
Market value: $2.4 million
Owner: Antoine Dean
How long it’s been empty: 7 years
Why it’s empty: Donated to a college
For decades, this curious, triangle-shaped building sandwiched between two high-traffic streets in St. Johns was home to an auto parts shop owned by an eccentric named Merlin Radke. When Radke died in 2017, he left much of his estate, including this beige, single-floor building to Warner Pacific University. (Radke’s attorney, Michael Peterson, recalls that Radke started attending church later in life. He never married or had children.)
Andrea Cook, former president of Warner Pacific, first met Radke on campus as she was walking to her car in 2006.
“He stopped me and asked, ‘What would it take to get my name on a building?’ I learned a long time ago that you take every question seriously. So I said let’s talk,” Cook recalls. “We talked about it off and on for 10 years, and ultimately he decided to give his assets to the university.”
Warner Pacific, which never used the property, sold it last October to 29-year-old entrepreneur and self-dubbed “real estate mogul” Antoine Dean for just over a million dollars. Dean’s a real estate and investment vlogger who owns properties in North, Northeast and Southeast Portland. He made a 19-part YouTube series called Making of a Mogul about how he became wealthy by investing in real estate.
Dean says he hasn’t decided yet what to do with the lot, but he’s in the process of splitting the commercially zoned parcel in two. He plans to sell off the parking lot and then either sell the building or renovate it into creative workspaces. He says he has no timeline, but he tends to flip real estate quickly.
“It was just a good deal,” Dean tells WW. “The parking lot alone was worth a good amount of money. So it just was something that I could buy, divide, sell a piece and keep a piece.”
Ekansh Gupta contributed reporting to this story.
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