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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 11, 2005 12:16 AM. The previous post in this blog was Sick o' spam. The next post in this blog is Park Blocks curfew?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's the condos, stupid

The other day the O got into the proposed displacement of the Portland Saturday Market. We mentioned it here the week before.

But Sir Isaac Laquedem nailed it a year and a half ago. Like the related fire station relocation, it's all about moving everybody out of the way for another condo monstrosity. I'm sure a deal has long ago been made, and one of the usual suspects is just waiting and salivating. Yuck.

Comments (23)

Let's put the Princess of London Escort Agency under the Burnside Bridge! [Spam comment referred to has been removed. -Ed.]

Seriously - I may be cranky and unsentimental, but I'd prefer a condo project or any kind of private redevelopment instead of that dirty old mess next to and underneath the Burnside Bridge. I stopped going to Saturday Market years ago because (a) it's all the same crap [oops - "stuff"] year after year after year, (b) it attracts an unsavory element, and (c) parking is hell.

Parking? That is a lame excuse or a lazy one. Parking may be conjested if you want to walk a block to Saturday Market. But there is a tram that runs right through the middle that is free from anywhere within Portland.

Saturday Market is a quintessential aspect of Portland that makes the city unique. The underpass, rain, and people are the reasons why the Market has a bohemian texture, which is why it has been a long-term feature in the Pearl.

The real issue is that the recent tranplants with money that moved into the area want the new Pearl facade-- sterilized and "chic." They like the idea of an artisian market and the option to shop at such a venture. But they don't want the Bohemians in their part of town and they want it to be more representative of the upscale shim-sham they see everywhere else.

Developers are happy to take their money and the Metro cronnies have long waited to morph this part of town into their elitist Port-topia vision.

After the Market falls, Powells is next.

I read in Scientific American that we are adding a billion people to the planet every 13 to 14 years, so things are going to change, especially when you’re in a desirable place to live. What troubles me about the Portland approach is that it creates artificial reality rather than letting the city morph on its own. It’s like introducing a plant or animal into an eco-system to achieve balance. That never works out. This city would be better off it were free to attain its own balance without the visionary stamp of overzealous bureaucrats. That said, I love the way they repaved 39th.

RAH is right - saturday market needs a real improvement - it is pretty lame and has not changed or improved in the last 20 years. How many ceramic bowls, crappy photographs, or dreamcatchers do you really need? it's pretty dank and dark down there under the bridge - a new location would probably do it good.

I think the condos at Saturday Market and South Waterfront should be joined by an aerial tram [rim shot].

Don't see much discussion here about the proposed market itself; I'd point out that the Farmer's Market in the South Park Blocks has been very successful, the seasonal markets all over town are very well attended, organic produce services and farm co-ops are increasingly popular, year-round markets like Uncle Paul's on Hawthorne are opening...

A year-round market open seven days a week would be a huge asset to the city, is almost guaranteed to be successful, and would be a much stronger civic amenity (in terms of potential customers and day-to-day usefulness) compared to Saturday Market. And if it takes some condos to subsidize development, fine by me.

Every-day-of-the-week produce has been tried in downtown Portland many times. To my knowledge, it has never worked on a sustainable basis.

Plus, the point of this post is that that is a smokescreen. It's all about the condos.

i should divide my house into 3 800 square foot condos and sell the thing for 1.2 mil. i even offer free parking!

In effect we have almost daily produce markets right now in Portland, just in different locations each day. Why not centralize?

And maybe I'm just dense, but I'm still not clear on why condos are inherently bad. Sure, there are some particularly awful/shoddy/ugly ones in the Pearl, but there's some good architecture down there too. (Incidentally, couldn't read the referenced Laquedem post, it was 404)

If the problem is really with the public subsidies for expensive condos, then we can talk about that.

I'm speaking as a detached single-family homeowner, by the way, and I'm not a condo developer nor affiliated with one.

Rod said:

RAH is right...it is pretty lame and has not changed or improved in the last 20 years. How many ceramic bowls, crappy photographs, or dreamcatchers do you really need?

I guess you need as many bowls, photos and 'catchers as the market will allow, at which point they will quit selling those goods and switch to new wares. Subjective opinion is a poor substitute for free market forces.

The issue is whether the redevelopment plan is a reflection of poor patronage of a depressed market or rather a reflection of the influence of greedy developers looking for more space to build.

I have yet to see any data that the Market is losing money, vendors, and customers to the point that the market directors are requesting assistance to inject new capital or design into a city landmark.

As Eric pointed out, there is a growing demand for traditional markets, organic, co-op, et cetera. There is demand for artisan crafts.

So, the question is why not allow the demand to encourage development of an artisan quarter similar to the future plans for Saturday Market and allow it to compete with the current market? If Saturday Market really is as poor as you all say due to location, traffic, and choice of goods, then it will adapt on its own, voluntarily join the artisan quarter or fold.

As it is, those involved in the decision making process are artificially manipulating demand for their personal vision of an ideal market. They inject city government into the process by altering locations, changing fee structures (a probable consequence), dictating the design, and perhaps attracting "reputable" merchants.

The problem with the "build it and they will come" mentality is that initially the new market will attract a lot of merchant and public interest. But there is a serious risk that our community will lose both markets altogether if the public is simply not into the new market as they were in the old market.

I'm all for change but I trust competition and not the decisions of a group of people in a boardroom.

(Incidentally, couldn't read the referenced Laquedem post, it was 404)

I think all of TypePad's down at the moment.

Scott in Japan said: "I think the condos at Saturday Market and South Waterfront should be joined by an aerial tram [rim shot]."

I actually agree with you. Maybe not with landing the tram under the bridge, but somewhere in the core. Currently, if I wanted to go work out at the OHSU gym when it opens, or volunteer for some bioscience experiement, or even take classes when the new Schnitzer campus opens or PSU expands in that direction, I'd have to catch a MAX in old town, ride it 15 minutes to the streetcar, and ride that 20 minutes into the district paralelling the single main road leading into a place that could have 10,000 workers and several thousand more residents. Sure would be easier to fly over traffic and to my destination quicker than any other option being considered.

I come from a land where markets are the norm, and I have also lived in Eugene where they have a Saturday Market. Now normally I hate everything and anything about Eugene, but I gotta say they have a great market. I would go to that in a minute before I would step into the Portland one. Why? It's cleaner, brighter, NOT under something, consolidated so everything isnt spread the heck everywhere out- I think it's all about LOCATION.
Mind you this opinion has nothing to do with trams or condos or anything else. Just in my experience of market going, I have taken the time to go to the Eugene market with friends, yet in all my 9 years here in Portland have only gone to the PDX Saturday Market twice, actually only once intentionally. Yep, they have a sucky location, layout, and musical draw. It's the organization that runs it which is the prob. If they would find a better place, come up with a better user experience (path/booth design and planning), bring in local musicians that are known and market/promote that (terry robb for example or amelia, etc), and maybe bring in better food booths the Market would kick some ass. We'lle see. The Market should find this proposed displacement a great opportunity to change the things they have always wanted to improve on.

Professor, thanks for the mention. It does seem that every project has a condominium tower lurking behind it somewhere.

Eric Miller's query about whether Saturday Market could become a seven-day-a-week event overlooks one feature about the market. It isn't empty Monday through Friday; the site is a parking lot that serves downtown workers. To my mind the market is a clever example of multiple use: parking when business needs it, and retail on the weekends. We need more of this, not less.

Eric says In effect we have almost daily produce markets right now in Portland, just in different locations each day. Why not centralize?

You don't centralize precisely because having markets in different locations, serving different neighborhoods, is a good thing. I can walk to ours in SE. Convenient is good.

The markets are successful. So is New Seasons, and other stores bringing us fresh, local produce. Why have the City step in to compete. The last time the City built a public market, it sucked the life out of downtown's existing markets, and was a financial disaster.

What problem are we trying to fix here?

The issue with removal of Saturday Market for condos isn't the condos. Its the subsidies the city provides to "make way" for development that the market should support itself. The heavy handed methods used by the city are the issue.

If the organizers of Saturday Market want to move, cool. But my guess is that the city is promising a whole bunch of not-in-writing promises in exchange for compliance. I also suspect that the 'urban color' offered by a destination like saturday market isn't exactly what a million dollar condo uses as a selling point.

Ah, dreamcatchers and market forces... Has anyone noticed how much wholesale drug dealing / exchange of shoplifted property happens at the Saturday Market among the vendors? It's probably just a few vendors, but I think I've seen it _every time_ I go there. Seriously, if you hang out for a while and pretend to be cool, you'll see some sketchy stuff go down.

Same with the chess boards at Pioneer Square. There's a middle-aged dude with a backpack who's always down there who gives street kids tiny zip lock baggies of meth(?) in exchange for apparently shoplifted items, usually batteries and disposable cameras, which somehow end up getting peddled by other street kids on the transit mall.

And if it takes some condos to subsidize development, fine by me.

There's that word again- subsidize.
Everything seems to be subsidized. Why does the government..err...taxpayers always have to pay for crap downtown? Is it because nobody else wants their little utopia?

I was pretty pissed to read the article- even if the market is depressing it's the principle of the thing- as usual the wants to take away something that is authentic and replace it with an ersatz version. Can't they figure out ANY other place to use that money??

As a artisan vendor at both Eugene and Portland markets I can say they are different because of their different realities . Eugene provides its market space in a city park at nominal cost , uses the market as a draw to its downtown and is next to a farmers market . Portland Market turns a shitty unwanted (up til now) space to retail ice cream every weekend with not much help from the city . The Market provides and maintains bathrooms and garbage pickup . You cant know the constant effort this is, to weekly reclaim the slum from its denizens, until you are a vendor . The Market has been doing this for over 30 years while providing a small business incubator ,supporting the arts and contributing to Portlands uniqueness.

For those of you that think the Portland Saturday Market is full of "ceramic bowls, crappy photographs, or dreamcatchers", You should open your eyes the next time you come (if indeed you ever will). There are new artists/crafts people that jury in every week and some of these new as well as long time artisans are award winners. A metal worker received the BEST CRAFTSMANSHIP award at the Issaquah Salmon Days festival two weeks ago and one of those "lame potters" won the award for the best booth at the Art in the Park show in Boise at the end of Sept. Most of us do have lights in our booths for the "it's pretty dank and dark down there under the bridge" crowd.

If that's the case, then somebody better replace the jury, cuz it still looks like the same ol' junk.

Not many realize there are 2 markets... PSMarket on the East side of the Max tracks and Skidmore import market on the west . Setting up and selling at the market in all sorts of weather is hard physical work . You not only have to produce your product but design build and set up your display and booth and loose a weekend selling even in inclimate weather . Not everyone is that dedicated to their independance . Over time you tend to adjust your product to appeal to the majority of the kind of customer you get there . Many vendors are also on the art/craft show circuit and using the market for walking around money in between shows . People with nice products who are really successful tend to move on to better venues( like Dave and Bonnie Deal who are in MotherGoose and other gallerys ) . There are always a number of beginners developing their product , some who for various reasons like disabilities , age ,or lack of transportation do only the Market , a few traveling vendors from out of town, and a bunch of regulars but on any one weekend you will see many unique products made nowhere else in the world and get to talk to the person who made it . Appreciate it . end o lecture


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