Downtown Portland's hit a rough patch. The Wild West gangster shootouts of last summer have not yet faded from memory, and last Friday's Business Journal further documents the decline with a story about parking. We're supposed to get all hot and bothered about Tom Moyer's little postage stamp park that's going to be built at SW Yamhill and Park -- as long as he gets to build 677 parking spaces underneath it. Meanwhile, operators of existing parking say that monthly customers are relatively few and far between.
And finally, civic leaders are acknowledging a significant part of the problem. They're euphemistically calling it a "rough element" that leaves behind the smell of pee:
Jones and other leaders hope proposed retail renovations around the nearby 10th and Yamhill facility will help even more. Critics have long maintained the garage, with its narrow enclosed walkways on Morrison and Yamhill streets, attracts a rough element.
Star Park, SmartPark's operator, and other interests want spruce-ups that would, among other improvements, seal-coat the stairwells, thereby helping to eliminate the urine smell that seeps into the structure's concrete.
I remember when the solution to these problems used to be this quaint commodity called police coverage. Ah, those were the days.
Retail downtown is hurting, corporations are moving their business headquarters out of the central city, and gas is $3 a gallon and climbing. In this climate, who needs another 700 parking spaces?
The Pearl District has sucked the life out of downtown, and it's putting a dent in NW 23rd Avenue, too. Imagine if all the retail and restaurant energy in the Pearl had been steered downtown -- what strength that would have created. Instead, shoppers and diners are being spread around to various different districts, with no apparent center. Downtown's being left to the panhandlers.
The city's raised parking rates at meters to $1.25 an hour, and rates at the SmartPark garages are going to follow suit after one more Christmas shopping season. Given the slacking off in car traffic, I suspect that revenues will only break even, and perhaps even decline, despite the rate increases. (SmartPark's revenues have been down over the last four years.)
And if you think it's depressed downtown now, wait until Meier & Frank is closed for renovation into a luxury hotel, and they start ripping up the transit mall for the upcoming, totally unnecessary, re-do. It's going to be even sketchier down there for a good long while.
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» Signs of A Recovery? from AboutItAll.com | Oregon
I was struck by Jack’s comments the other night - about how the Pearl sucking the life out of downtown. Today, when i was taking my daily turn through downtown, I circled Pioneer place, one block away. Here’s what I saw:
There seem... [Read More]