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Friday, November 23, 2012

From China, a familiar tale

This story from Zhejiang reminds us of a story from Fremont and Sandy in Northeast Portland, retold here:

On any given day, there are plenty of homes for sale in the Roseway neighborhood, but it's not very often that someone comes in and wants to buy several blocks worth. But, that's exactly what Fred Meyer did back in 1949 when he started to build his Rose City shopping center which was at the time the "largest store in the West" on 70th and Sandy. Well, almost…

There was one home that was definitely not for sale, regardless of how much Mr. Meyer was willing to pay. The 4 room home on 69th, owned (at the time) by Eugene and Ruth Murray had been paid off free and clear and there was no way the owners were going to walk away from it and have to purchase another property somewhere else.

So, what's a developer to do? Build around it, of course!

Legend has it that after the store was built, whenever Meyer was preparing to buy out homeowners at other locations, he would take them to Rose City to show them "how nice the new store was going to be." He never said a word about the Murray house, but he made sure they all saw it. There were no more holdouts.

Comments (11)

I remember seeing this house in the early 80's and wondered if it still stood there.

Something similar happened at the Gateway Fred Meyer 25-30 years ago. All the homeowners sold their land to Freddy's, except for one holdout at 102 & Pacific. That lone house stood there for years; now there's just a square of green grass on the corner--everything around it is parking lot. They may have kept their house, but I bet the value plummeted.

As a bright young real estate typhoon in about 1986 I often used that house in my presentations. There were no readily available aerial photos, so I went down to the Fred Meyer property management office and asked asked the manager for one of his file copies. There is more to the story but he gladly obliged.

I would show the picture of the home surrounded on three sides by 20 foot walls to a prospective seller if he gave me the "I know what my house is worth, and I don't have to sell if I don't want to" line. I would describe what likely happened in this case of "I have Fred Meyer over a barrel and he can't build without my parcel."

So the old guy likely lived out his days in the house and eventually his estate sold to Fred Meyer. Then I would ask, "Do you know what Fred Meyer eventually paid for the house?" The answer obviously was: "Whatever Fred Meyer wanted to pay."

Of course if it were WalMart instead of Freddy's, everyone and their dogs would be protesting the "big corporation" fighting "the little guy".

But when it's the City of Portland, or a favored corporation...then "the little guy" is standing in the way of progress. Thanks to Kelo, now the city can just steamroll over "the little guy".

I used to go there as a kid for baseball cards and gum. I remember that store fondly. When they knocked it down, the safeway took another entire block of houses, but this time by eminent domain.

Mr. Grubmeyer got his revenge by placing the down ramp from his roof top parking lot right past the hold-out house. Imagine the exhaust fumes.

It would be interesting to know how City Hall let this (or encouraged it to) happen.

In those days, progress didn't have a Progressive slant.

Is it true that the house in question was on 69th? I moved to the neighborhood about 20 years too late, but have seen the famous photos of the walled-in house. I always assumed that the footprint of the old supermarket was the same as that of the present-day Safeway, with a western property line on 68th.

Or is that the other block of houses W refers to in the above comment?

Japan has real private property rights:



The might of their Federal government could not compel farmers to sell out, and the badly-needed second runway has never been completed. The farm buildings stand right in the middle of the two sections of completed runway.

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