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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 9, 2004 6:13 AM. The previous post in this blog was What's this under the sofa cushion?. The next post in this blog is Interview with new Portland schools chief. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, April 9, 2004

Scam preview

Here comes the next development boondoggle out of Portland City Hall: the proposed Home Depot at Burnside and MLK.

Let's see. The affected neighborhood associations don't want it. The neighborhood businesses that sell paint, light fixtures, tiles, "house parts" and hardware sure don't want it. And the heavier industries down in that area don't want it, either.

So who does want it? The Portland Development Commission, the folks who run the city's real estate slush fund. And no doubt -- no doubt -- the usual developer suspects who fill city commissioners' campaign coffers.

I thought we just passed a plan to make inner Burnside and Couch into a pedestrian-friendly, traffic-becalmed shangri-la. How's that going to be possible with a giant big box retailer right in the very heart of the district?

This town is, as the kids say, wack.

Comments (23)

If I understand the Burnside-Couch plan correctly, on the east side the streets would become a one-way couplet starting at King and running east about 10 blocks. The Home Depot site is at the northwest corner of King and Burnside. Whether it's good planning is another question, but it's adjacent to a part of Burnside that would remain two-way and doesn't block the part of NE Couch that would be turned into half of the couplet.

The traffic in the area is already pretty significant. A large store put into the area is gonna be a mess for the commuters passing through the area.

As Jack pointed out, this town is wack. But it is becoming more so at a slow pace. I again propose that PDX finish selling its school buildings, legalize prostitution and rename itself, 'Potterville'.

This sounds pretty stinky. The area around Burnside/MLK, not too far from my own 'hood, certainly doesn't need any big-box development. I'm NIMBY all the way on this one. Driving out to the Home Depot in Mall 205 shouldn't be a big deal for most of us. But, obviously, *somebody* wants it there--it wouldn't be a viable project otherwise. Are there any polls suggesting that folks in the area are interested in seeing it go in? There's an awful lot of home reno going on right now in Inner SE which means the promise of a buncha sales.

Who does this serve? Not the people who live in inner Southeast--as a previous commenter noted, that one at Mall 205 is fine. Not the people who live in North Portland--there's a Home Depot at Jantzen Beach Mall.

This serves the Pearl District, and possibly people who live in inner NW. So that's mostly rich folks, surprise, surprise.

This town is, as the kids say, wack.

You know you love it anyway. You can't help it.

Though I do not agree with the placement as proposed, in response to who the particular store would serve I'll pipe for those of us who live in inner southeast. By living in the Brooklyn neighborhood (not exactly the ritziest place in the world, especially on my side of Milwaukie Ave) I have found myself to equidistant far from every Home Depot and Costco in the Portland Metropolitan area. Heck we don't even have a decent grocery store close to us (yet, New Seasons will be coming next Fall to 20th and Division).

Hilsy- oh come on. You live within close bicycling distance of both People's Coop and Natures on Division and Safeway on Powell or the New Seasons in Sellwood. What is it that you can't get at the True Valu hardware store on Hawthorne and 14th or the hardware store on Division and 37th that necessitates a large Home Depot in inner SE? Whatever it is, despite a house remodel, I can't imagine its hard to just drive to the one on Mall 205. I do. You're about 40 blocks further away than I on Belmont. About 4 extra minutes.

The back-up plan is to put up the Home Depot at SE 12th & Sandy. It doesn't matter which place it goes, it would be a blight on the Inner SE, destroy local small businesses and would definitely NOT be pedestrian friendly. The average Home Depot has 5,000 cars per day in and out of their parking lot. A nightmare at either proposed location!!

And of course we have the issue of a lack of public process, as usual. The PDC owns at least one of the blocks involved (surprise surprise) and are just determined to shove a Home Depot down our throats. I'm beginning to think Vera owns stock in the company.

If the Pearlites and other denizens of the NW want a HOme Depot nearby, then let it be built out around Nicholai or Hgwy 30. But stay out of our Inner Southeast neighbourhoods!!!

I just had a brilliant idea!

How about connecting the Portland Tram to the Home Depot? Just a few more graceful, inexpensive towers, and the Dr's can get Home Depot without having to drive!

My boyfriend lives 2 blocks from the proposed location for this store. I guess that makes me a sort of half-time resident of the area. We walk by this corner regularly on our way downtown or to the esplanade. I cannot imagine how a Home Depot would fit in this location, or what it would do to the neighborhood. We laughed when we heard the plan, checked several times becuase we didn't believe they could really mean that corner, and then we got worried that it could somehow really happen. That corner would be fine for small retail, and/or apartments. It does not make sense to have such a gigantic store in that location, and it would not serve the people who live and work in that neighborhood. This is not a neighborhood that is filled with involved homeowners, or people who have the other types of qualifiers you seem to need to get the city to listen to your concerns. I can only hope that the local business owners in this neighborhood will keep their voices raised. Traffic and the fate of the skate park are other issues that would drastically change the face of the neighborhood.

So where do you think most of the house remodels are happening in the Portland area? I hasten to guess they are happening within the city where there are lots and lots of old houses.

And Natures, errr, Wild Oats. I quit shopping there not long after Wild Oats took over. And I do shop at the co-op as well. But I will be much happier (as well the rest of the Brooklyn neighborhood ever since the nearest grocery store was taken out of the neighborhood in the 1970s) when New Seasons completes their store on Division.

And yes I do frequent the hardware store on Hawthorne and 14th (and by bike too!).

But you still did not address the costco issue.

And as far as there is this pretentious talk about the Home Depot being for the the Pearlites. What the F? They live in already nicely completed condos. And, they'd just as rather go spend their money at the "classier" more expensive outlets like Rejuvenation. Home Depot would be far more utilized by regular old east-siders.

But, back to my original post in that the Burnside location still doesn't make sense to me. Why not open a Home Depot within the Lloyd Center??

Hilsy- Now, that makes perfect sense. I wonder if they have room? Sears is open on one side..hmmm. But they already have the parking issue built in.

P.S.- excuse if I did not make a formidable argument in my prior post-
A. I was drunk, playing a drinking game with Janeane Garafalo and Sam on Air America (They have the funniest most politically radical and thoughtful show) http://www.airamericaradio.com or here in portland at 620AM KPOJ (Progressive Talk Radio at last! Al Franken too!)
B. I could never be as good at constructing an argument as you ;)

Because, Hilsy, The PDC already OWNS several of the key blocks for the Home depot project. Heaven forbid the PDC and their very good buddies Homer, Neil and Doug should miss out on a chance to make a buck ( or two, or two million).

Rob- That's it! That's it! We'll bring the tram OVER to Home Depot and scoop up transportaion credits while we do it! And the taxpayers can pay for it all!

Why hasn't Vera thought of this?? Or has she............?

Interesting discussion, so far.

Two points to make:

1. The city repeatedly mentions its ambition to make Sandy Boulevard and Burnside Street more "pedestrian friendly." How in the heck does the notion of a megastore on either of these streets comport with that assertion?

2. Does anyone remember what was on this site for more than a decade? Yes, it was Baloney Joe's, a HOMELESS shelter. From Homeless Depot to Home Depot. How Vera Katz is that?

I live in inner SE, off Hawthorne, lower than 39th. Last summer I remodeled my bathroom (well, me and a friend). We took it down to the studs and floor joists, and rebuilt it with tile and new fixtures, new ceiling, floor, walls, etc. I was driving to the Mall 205 Home Depot at least once a day. We did it in 10 days (a week off work) plus a couple more days for finish stuff. I just don't see the problem with getting out to Mall 205 for inner SE home remodels.

As far as those Pearl Dist. folks, not all of them live in brand new condos--and even those sometimes want to make changes. Maybe it's the folks in the NW, maybe it's the folks in Irvington who don't want to go to Jantzen Beach.

What a stupid idea. Just look at how well the Fred Meyer on NE 28th "fits" into the neighborhood (NOT!) to see what would happen.

What all of you NIMBYs seem to conveniently overlook is the fact that Home Depot is CHEAPER than the existing stores. This alone makes it a better deal for people who actually live in that neighborhood. Not to mention the jobs that the store will provide in construction and sales. Or the benefit to other retailers from the increased traffic. In short, this will be a huge benefit to the neighborhood, one that is in need of an influx of jobs and money. Those of you who live near this store (as do I) probably commute to downtown or the west side (as do I) and probably don't care or even notice that there are lots of people in those neighborhoods in need of jobs. The sentiment I see above is exactly the sentiment that causes Portland to have such a business-unfriendly climate, and that contributes to our unemployment rate.

You have to choose: Either you have projects like this, or you have unemployment. If you think all your coffee houses, bookstores, Tibetan restaurants and other small businesses are going to provide full employment, you're kidding yourselves.

Brett, not many people here are arguing that Home Depot should not have a store at all. The problem is the location and the impact on the area. And the underlying unease that the city has maybe already made the deal without really thinking about that impact or having a larger vision for the neighborhood. Home Depots belong next to freeways.
I'm glad you are concerned with the people who need employment in this neighborhood, but a Home Depot is certainly not going to hire the day laborers that currently hang out on that block. If somehow the store makes the neighborhood "nicer" then it will only succeed in raising rents and driving the current residents far north or far east.
Beyond the concern for the people of the neighborhood, I have a concern for the look and feel of Portland. I don't mind having parts of town - again, preferably along the freeways - that have gigantic chain stores. But Portland has a personality that makes this city livable, and distinguishes the experience of living here from that of living anywhere else. Not just the people, but the buildings and the businesses, make up this personality. Part of this is that we do have wonderful mixed residential and business neighborhoods. Part of this is that we have limits on how big and tall our buildings are. I don't mind it changing, but I think it should be done with care. If we stop caring about how our city works and grows, then it will cease to be the city that we love. Having a livable city will attract the kinds of business that cares about its employees - catering to the whims of companies that only want to open chain stores is bad for the city and bad for business in the long run.

We already have a livable city - one of the most livable in the country. One Home Depot isn't going to change that.

I don't get this reflexive hostility to chain stores. Every chain was once a small business - just one that was successful. Are we saying we only want unsuccessful small businesses? And many chains are locally owned by franchisors - what's the difference between that and a small business?

Brett,

There are several problems, most mentioned above. Very bad place for a large store. Home Depot just got shot down trying to put a store in Hollywood next to the max station.

There are actually two Home Depots out on 205, one at the mall and one at the airport. Why do we need another?

Also, Home Depot is a crappy store. There is a reason everything they sell is cheaper. There wares are crappy, low quality and the offer no breadth of selection.

Lowe's is a much better store and we need one close in to compete with crappy home depot that is raking in east side money because who wants to drive to half way to Troutdale for a slightly better home improvement experience?

Portland's "unfriendly business climate" is just a bunch of crap. IF you don't like it here, move to one of those wonderful cities like New York, Atlanta, Albuquerque, or Phoenix. "Unfriendly business climate" is merely a euphemism for giving large corporations exactly what they want. Large corporations care about only one thing, and it isn't this (or any other) city.

I am glad most Portlanders don't agree with you. Thatís what makes Portland such a special place to live and why so many 20 and 30 somethings are moving here.

I agree that Portland is a livable city. My concern is with losing that. My "hostility" is not against chain stores, but against thoughtless development. This Home Depot, at this location, will change livability. This is already one of the most busy intersections in town. How will the Home Depot and its parking lot possibly fit? If streets are closed, as suggested, then the traffic coming out of downtown to 84 East will be routed through the few more residential streets this area has. These streets already have more traffic than they can handle. Increased traffic will affect anyone commuting to downtown or using 99E (MLK/Grand). It doesn't make sense to add this much traffic to an area that already serves as a major interchange in the center of town. As I stated before, I think this corner would be a fine location for a mixed use retail/apartment building or something along those lines that actually fits. Starbucks would even be welcome.

> I am glad most Portlanders don't agree with you. Thatís what makes Portland such a special place to live and why so many 20 and 30 somethings are moving here.

Ah, I get it. So we should run the city according to what yuppies want. [In the interest of full disclosure, I am one.] This is exactly what I mean - no thought is given to the people who would benefit from projects like this. Obviously, you wouldn't, since you don't like HD and you have a job. What about the people who are unemployed and who would love a job at a new Home Depot? Oh, right, since they're not 20- or 30-somethings moving here, they don't count.


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