Portland's downtown downturn

| Print |  Email
Archives - May 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009

ATSDowntownLease

Portland’s downtown has been losing key stores.

PORTLAND It was the 25th anniversary of Pioneer Courthouse Square. The early April weather was brilliant, the cake was free, and the center was humming with visitors and workers soaking up sun and ambience. Shoppers were filing into the Nordstrom store across the street. The line inside Starbucks ran 10 people deep. One block away, the sidewalk tables in front of Elephants Deli were packed with people enjoying the gritty construction of the coming Park Avenue West skyscraper.

But the for-lease signs are creeping. Among the recent casualties in the heart of Portland are See’s Candies on SW Morrison, the City Arts shop on SW Yamhill, the Shoe Pavilion on SW Fourth, the Three Lions Bakery on SW Sixth, and Portland Cutlery Co., which sold knives on SW Broadway for more than a century. Add to that list the disconcerting recent news that Zell Bros. Jewelers, an upscale shopping destination since 1912 and the presumed anchor tenant of the remodeled Pacific First Center, is unlikely to survive the downturn, and you’ve got a problem. Especially when you factor in the construction delay at Park Avenue West.

According to a recent report by Norris, Beggs & Simpson, the overall retail vacancy rate for metropolitan Portland is a relatively strong 6.5%. But the central city, one of seven submarkets within greater Portland, has the highest vacancy rate at 8.2%. For all of Portland’s self-congratulatory claims of having defeated the sprawl beast, 2008 retail sales at suburban Washington Square topped those in all of downtown by $180 million.

These downward trends lend new urgency to an effort by 30 business leaders selected by Mayor Sam Adams to hone a downtown retail strategy based on success stories from Pasadena, Calif., Vancouver, B.C., and Boston. David Leland, a Portland-based retail strategist who has been in the business for more than 40 years, recommends recruiting urban versions of big-box stores such as Target, improving the atmosphere along SW 10th, encouraging still more residential density, turning Broadway into a two-way street, providing more street parking and creating new financing options.

Leland has consulted with more than 80 city governments about their downtowns over his career, and he remains optimistic about Portland’s position. But he predicts more stores will close before the next wave of grand openings, and he warns, “Complacency is a great danger."

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


Read more...

Urban renewer

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
UnknownBY LINDA BAKER   

One year after he was appointed chair of the Portland Development Commission, Tom Kelly talks about PDC's longevity, Neil Kelly's comeback and his new role as Portlandia's landlord.


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...

Oregon needs a Grand Bargain energy plan

Linda Baker
Monday, June 22, 2015
0622-gastaxblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Clean Fuels/gas tax trade off will go down in history as another disjointed, on-again off-again approach to city and state lawmaking.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...

6 key things to know about summer baseball in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, June 05, 2015
basedthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

As temperatures in Oregon creep into the 90s this weekend, Oregonians' thoughts are turning to — summer baseball.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS