Do Your Business in Downtown's New $100,000 Public Toilet

Exterior of the Portland Loo - Courtesy Madden Fabrication
Courtesy Madden Fabrication
Exterior of the Portland Loo
In an effort to both crack down on public urination and give downtown tourists a free place to go when nature calls, District 1 Councilman Robert Treviño pushed for and got city approval earlier this year to spend $97,000 on a toilet. 

Not just any toilet, but a so-called "Portland Loo," a standalone 24-hour unisex restroom that, starting Thursday, will be open and ready to handle your business on the corner of Alamo and Crocket streets. 

Currently, there aren't many (free and legal) options to relieve yourself downtown, a problem Treviño told us earlier this year that he hoped to fix with the new tank-like restroom. "We want more and more people to come Downtown, and we need to make downtown more accessible," Treviño told us in February. "This is one of the basic services that the city is supposed to be providing."

While the price tag alone might seem shocking, Treviño and others have maintained that the "Portland Loo" is cheaper option than building a new standard public restroom (like the kind that exist at Main Plaza, the parking garage at St. Mary's Street and Travis Street, and at Centro Info on Commerce Street). While the city spent $97,000 on the restroom itself, it's estimated that instillation costs will amount to nearly that much. On top of that are maintenance costs of about $1,000 a month. 

In a press statement Wednesday, Kelly Kapaun, spokeswoman for the Center City Development and Operations Department, said the "innovative design" of the new toilet will help "curb crime and deviant behavior." The Portland-based company that designed the restroom put openings near the ceiling and floor and a blue overhead LED light that turns on when the toilet's occupied, which is supposed to make it harder for drug-addicts and prostitutes to do their other business inside. 

The city says it will host a "celebration" at 10:30 this morning to christen the restroom, after which it will be open to public use. To celebrate the price tag or the new toilet's crime-fighting abilities, maybe they'll even send a wad of cash or cocaine down the drain with that inaugural flush.


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