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Monday, August 1, 2011

Another PDC bust: Uwajimaya

Add another entry to the growing dead-deal list at the Portland Development Commission -- this one a false hope for Old Town. Rather than try to turn that agency into the "cluster" center, perhaps we should save a bunch of money by mothballing it until the national economy picks up. If it ever does.

Comments (17)

I can't say that this comes as much of a surprise in light of the fact that business owners have been having a really tough time operating in Old Town/China Town.

When you read stories like this one about how much the crime in that area impacts the profitability of businesses it's hard to blame them for shying away from investing $70 million to move into that neighborhood.

They'll probably end up building another(but even fancier) homeless shelter on the site now. Eventually Oldtown/Chinatown will be nothing but homeless shelters and the PDC headquarters. We'll need more to house all the down-on-their-luck homeless from the rest of Oregon who end up there(beacause no other town in Oregon will spend money on homeless shelters) along with all the travelling bums who decide Portland sounds like a groovy place to be a freeloader. Just rename Oldtown/Chinatown the "Homeless/Druggie Containment Zone" and be done with it.

This was another project where the developers attempt to avoid financial risk by having the public assume it.

Fish out of water is especially apt for this Old Town project.

This full block property is owned by David Gold. It is a parking lot. He and his associates also own nearly all of the adjacent full block containing the Grove Hotel. Think youth hostel.

How about we take the money PDC spends in Old Town and use it to pay for more police officers and drug enforcement. Then the Pearlies and downtown office drones will feel safe walking and shopping there, after which Uwajimaya and other businesses will clamor to relocate there on their own without bribes, er . . . "incentives".

How long will it take for voter, taxpayers, private business, teacher's unions,and firemen realize "planners" and "Development commissions" are a huge failure and cannot deliver the "hope and change" they promise?

"perhaps we should save a bunch of money by mothballing it until the national economy picks up"

Yes, funny what a "success" the PDC was in the midst of a huge real estate bubble. Now those movers and shakers can't seem to get much done. Hmmm, curious.

Regarding the condition of Old Town, Chinatown. I hate to say it, but those shelters and aid agencies should really stay there. If any major attempt was made to "renew" that area, and displace some of those uses, they'd just go to the other side of the river and run down a different neighborhood and then we'd all be talking about how to fix "Neighborhood X" instead. At least now, everyone knows the score, where the bad part of town is, and where the services are. No need to move them all to a different neighborhood and start the process over.

Boy, the folks running in the 2012 city hall elections don't look like they'll change the direction of the city at all; and probably push even more of this central planning, big public spending agenda. We're in a race to be more San Francisco than San Francisco itself.

I wish the new city auditor would run for Mayor. She's shown the most balls in this town in decades. Can you say "fiscal prudence?"

She got brave only after the Fireman decided on retirement. I think he scares the bejeezus out of her.

Gee, what a shock a grocery doesn't want to invest a bunch of money (even with PDC handouts) in a neighborhood like Old Town. I mean one would think the ambience of crack sellers bedeviliing exisiting businesses there would've convinced them mixed use is the place to be.

Am waiting for the next CoP staffer to type that he's loves downtown and walks thru there 24/7 without any fear whatsoever.

PDC - Have some morals and give the money back to schools and Mult County before you throw it all away.

I for one am unhappy that Uwajimaya wont build there. We have to drive to the Beaverton store, which is a pain. But I noticed this last year the store there just has not been that busy. There are a lot of small Asian markets sprouting in Washington County (and east Portland) that are cutting into Uwajimaya's trade.

One thing I just do not understand, why multi-use? Who is God's name would want to live in an apartment above a supermarket? The noise of customers, the early morning trucks, vermin, and the high cost of constructing residential over commercial just makes it seem like a foolish idea. I grew up in NYC and nobody there wants to live above a grocer. Just a dumb planning idea.

What I'm chuckling about is taht this is yet another "dead before arrival" mixed use [plan, in an area heavily served by Max and the Streetcar. Duuuuuuh.

Walked back from brewfest sat 6pm thru there , and was quickly surrounded by a pimp and 2 hookers , yea really made me want to move my business there...

Said Robert:

"I for one am unhappy that Uwajimaya wont build there. We have to drive to the Beaverton store, which is a pain."

Bob T: Wrong! You *don't* have to drive there at all. But if you like that store so much that you need to make that trip, then it's all voluntary on your part, and you prefer to make that trip rather than do without. Life is about trade-offs. Economics is about trade-offs.


"There are a lot of small Asian markets sprouting in Washington County (and east Portland) that are cutting into Uwajimaya's trade."

Bob T: In other words, you now have multiple reasons to stop "having" to go there.

B. Tiernan
NE Portland

For all the posts about Old Town/China Town being Portland's over-abundant haven for social services and Low Income (now politely called Affordable Housing), there is good news. In last months SoWhat URAC meeting Marilyn of the Portland Housing Bureau gave a long report on Affordable Housing's future for Portland. She emphatically stated several times,

"We are broke, there is no money".

Coming from a public official that is NEWS in itself to tell the truth. Maybe being broke will change the pols and bureaucrat attitudes about Old Town/China Town and elsewhere. It may be a God-send.

We will know they are truly broke when there are no more urban renewal, PDC development, and rail boondoggles being funded....

$70 million for a specialty grocery store sounds like some very expensive kimchi.

I don't know what kind of sales volume you would need to support that kind of overhead, but a mortgage payment would be $9,856 day if $50 million were borrowed/amortized over 30 years.

Add in labor/benefits/taxes/electricity/insurance and I don't know how you could expect to make money unless you're doing Costco volumes of business.

FYI...I assumed a 6% mortgage interest rate. I've never run a grocery store, but I would hate to own a business that is completely dependent on who walks in the door when several grocery alternatives exist in the neighborhood (Safeway and Whole Paycheck)...

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