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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rah rah siss boom bah

It's amusing to watch Oregonian writers continue to deny that Portland's downtown is going nowhere fast. Here's a story about a minor shuffling of some retail space in the downtown core, but you can bet the cheerleaders at the O will put a gigantic happy face on it:

Much of the looming change is positive news for a district already encouraged by a strong holiday sales season and continued signs of economic recovery.
The place has more "For Lease" signs in it than we've seen in 30 years here. The scene down there is far from positive. But you'll never hear anything but happy talk about downtown from the city's daily newspaper.

A much more ominous segment of the article is this revelation:

Portland's Goodman family is pushing for a total makeover of its Kress Building and Kress Annex on Southwest Morrison Street between Southwest Fourth and Fifth avenues.
Why am I thinking that the Portland taxpayers will wind up paying for that? Just a crazy hunch.

Comments (22)

I don't think it will involve public money so much as a waiver of the land-use and permitting rules less-favored developers and property owners have to follow so Goodman can do whatever the heck he wants with his property. Kind of like how with a snap of Randy's fingers the land-use review process was short-circuited to let ICE move their jail . . . er, I mean "offices" . . . to SoWhat.

I haven't confirmed it with a walk-by, but I heard Todai at the top of Pioneer Place has closed for good. (A call to the restaurant went straight to voice mail.)

It's all crickets and tumbleweeds downtown at night anymore.

"Portland's Goodman family is pushing for a total makeover of its Kress Building"

That sentence jumped out at me too. Pushing who? Just dip into your pocket and do it yourself.

There was a chart in the Oregonian a couple days ago, listing the retail vacancy rates of different Portland regions over the last few years.

Interestingly, from 2007 to 2010 downtown's vacancy rate had risen from 5% to 9%. And most other neighborhoods had seen a similar increase in vacancy rates

However, the East side's retail vacancy rate had decreased from 6% to 4% over that same time period.

My guess is that there has been a lot less development on the east side, coupled with an increase in the number of residents. I suspect a lot of people are moving to the east side due to cheaper housing and lower rents. It'll be interesting to see if the east side sees an increase in retail development.

Look, you cannot navigate or park downtown unless you walk or arrive by public transportation. Taking a car down there makes no sense any longer.

Just what "they" always wanted, but oh what a thriving center of business it could have been.

It'll be interesting to see if the east side sees an increase in retail development.

Not close in. The Lloyd District is moving quite in the opposite direction.

“strong holiday sales season” the Oregonian must have been referring to an article a week ago about pop up stores. The O indicated that 5 pop up stores had gross sales of $150K for a seven week stretch. If you do the math that comes to $17K and change for a month of sales per store. I don’t know what the Oregonian reporter was smoking but the average retail lease cost downtown ranges about $23.00 per sq. ft plus triple net (maintenance, taxes and whatever else the landlord can gouge you for). So if you count for the real costs of merchandise, utilities, labor and taxes and fees that the existing merchants pay that range of income would be a big loosing position. It is always great when the best business reporters at the Oregonian don’t know anything about business, but hey they know all about green crap.

Not close in. The Lloyd District is moving quite in the opposite direction.

I tend to think you're right. Which is funny, because clearly the powers that be in Portland are desperately trying to turn the Lloyd District and it's surround areas into the the new Pearl.

I actually think any new east-side retail development will be geared toward more residential neighborhoods, like Freemont, Mississippi St, Alberta St, St. Johns, MLK etc.

Note that if Niketown (which undeniably needs a redo) moves into this building, it will be moving off the transit corridor dead zone, leaving another hole.

Snark aside, consolidating some stronger retial draws around Pioneer Place is not a terrible idea at this point. Better to pull together and try to keep energy in those few square blocks than have everyone spread out over the downtown trying to hold it together.

Starbucks is negotiating for a presence on the same block at the corner of Southwest Morrison Street and Fourth Avenue,

Has someone told them there is already a Starbucks at 4th & Morrison?

The only place they could go is the old shoe store space across the street from the current location. Isnt that what Lewis Black called "The End of the Universe?"

Maybe someone should write a book and title it, "How to Buy a City Core for Ten Cents on the Dollar."

Currently in St Petersburg FL.
Wide streets, lots of trees and parks, a wonderful waterfront park, a brand new Dali museum, great yacht club overlooking the water front, cheap or free parking and many available spaces and...stone dead everywhere! NO major retailers in downtown and lots of empty store fronts.
All the retail has gone to the suburban malls. We have seen condo weasel activity near the former core area. It too is empty.
Portland's future?

Snards - At one time there was a plan to move Niketown to the Pearl and the facelift in that move. That plan got put on hold.

I suspect that any move will only move somewhere where there is a high likelihood of store (in the door) traffic and where rents are reasonable. Any business with a large retail presence has a group responsible for real estate management. Their job is to find advantageous locations in terms of both cost and shoppers.

From what I read and observe, I'd question if downtown Portland would meet those requirements.

LucsAdvo - I think Nike was looking at the Tom Moyer tower, now known as the Tom Moyer hole in the ground in the Park Blocks downtown.

Pioneer Place is empty on the third floor - though not sure about Todai, a co-worker ate there just a couple of weeks ago. A couple of businesses are now closed in the basement, though one might just be remodeling. Plus, I believe there is still vacant office space in the office tower. As long as the street kids and bucket drummers are habitating downtown on the sidewalks, and driving/parking is the on-going nightmare, don't really see much happening downtown.

[T]he powers that be in Portland are desperately trying to turn the Lloyd District and it's surround areas into the the new Pearl.

Check out the Lloyd District on a Friday afternoon/evening. It's like watching re-runs of the The Wire.

umpire - Maybe after Nike gave up on the Pearl they looked at the hole in the ground site, but it's nothing I ever heard about in my various circles.

LucsAdvo - directly from the linked O article:

"Niketown was one of the original tenants pledged to go into the ground floor of TMT Development's Park Avenue West office tower. Construction of the building was stalled by the economic crash."

It's official: Todai-ed. Place is all darked out. :(

This whole thing crystallized a thought for me. Back in the day, me and my wife went down to Downtown A LOT. It was a fun place to be. There was actually an Arctic Circle burger joint on the corner of SW Broadway and Yamhill, overlooking the Square. You could people-watch while looking over your cool maps you got at Powell's Travel Store (I'm nuts about city maps). Helen Clark had that charming little stationery shop between the Music Box and the Fox theaters. At Broadway and Taylor, there was this cheap eats place called Metro on Broadway - kind of a food court without a mall attached.

Pioneer Place seemed an awful lot more welcoming.

But there's really no reason to go down there anymore except to work and go to the Library, or Saturday Market maybe.

If it was the goal of the downtown business community to chase the proles and most of the middle class out of downtown, well, mission accomplished I guess.

Also in the business section this morning, an article about the impending closure of the Looking Glass Bookstore in Sellwood. The article revealed that one of the reasons for Looking Glass's move out of downtown in 2007 was loss of foot traffic to the Pearl district. The store front on SW Taylor is still vacant 3 1/2 years after the move. A block away the former Borders store is now vacant. Only bookstores in downtown that I can think of now are Cameron's and Powell's.

Anyone remember the Galleria? The last time I was in there it was full of Non-profit types.

Check out the Lloyd District on a Friday afternoon/evening. It's like watching re-runs of the The Wire.

Oh, very subtle.

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