Lesson for Portland public market from Vancouver's failure

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

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PORTLAND The indoor Vancouver Farmers Market at Esther Short Park closes at the end of this month, crushed by debt and a bad business plan.

Market master Robert Ray says foot traffic was weak, the building was uninviting and “we were doomed from the start” because the market started out in debt with an $180,000 loan. Along with a hefty rent payment, the overhead came crashing down. The outdoor market will remain open.

Ron Paul, director of the nonprofit Historic Portland Public Market Foundation, wants to avoid the same fate. He says it’s crucial for a Portland market to open debt free, and he wants the city to provide a suitable spot. He has his sights set on Union Station in northwest Portland, but it will cost more than $30 million to upgrade the station, plus at least $6 million to make upgrades to accommodate a market, which Paul hopes to raise privately. Paul, who has tried for seven years to open a public market, hopes to have an answer on Union Station this fall. 


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