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|Articles - May 2011|
|Wednesday, April 20, 2011|
Page 1 of 6Story by Ben Jacklet // Photos by Adam Bacher
Follow McLoughlin Boulevard south out of Portland, past the gentleman’s club with the $5 steak special and the sprawling vacant lot next door, and you can get a wide-angle view of the reality of arterial strip development as it is. The 4.5-mile stretch of state highway from Milwaukie to Oregon City is a random mix of the weird, the cheap and the ugly: a restaurant with a bomber plane parked out front, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, a rectangular mountain of storage space, a huge “no-credit, no-problem” auto lot, a motel next door to a strip club with rooms starting at $29 per night, a 66,000-square-foot former GI Joe’s sporting goods store available, for sale or lease.
In the middle of this urban planning disaster is a strip mall with twin turrets built from residential-style brick, the Green Castle Retail Center. The buildings are attractive enough to stand out in a sea of hastily constructed eyesores, but the attempt at transformation they represent is daunting. Property owner Joe Green III says he and his father invested in the area and fixed up the property on the belief that “McLoughlin only has one direction to go, and that’s up.”
Not far from the Green Castle, plans are being made for a new light rail station. With light rail could come transit-oriented development, mixed-use density. A team of consultants is making plans for a more coherent future. But the gap is vast between Oregon’s urban planning ideals and the current realities on McLoughlin and other suburban-style strips from Beaverton to Salem to Medford.
Even with its vaunted land use laws, Oregon is no stranger to strip mall sprawl. Metropolitan Portland contains over 400 miles of arterial commercial strips heavily laden with every variety of retail space. Head west out Canyon Road to Beaverton, south along 99W from Tigard to McMinnville, or east along Powell Boulevard from 82nd Avenue to Gresham, and you might just as well be touring the suburbs of Atlanta or Indianapolis: huge parking lots, congested intersections, national chain stores squeezing out any semblance of regional identity.
These areas fit the profile of convenience-driven strip development in that they are auto-oriented, endless and, well, ugly. They are also increasingly distressed. The latest in-depth retail report from Portland-based Norris Beggs & Simpson finds a steadily improving overall retail vacancy rate of 6.3% for the Portland market (significantly lower than the national rate of 7.2%), with major improvements in central city, neighborhood and regional shopping centers. The most troubled sub-category by far is “strip convenience,” with a vacancy rate of 18.2%.
Nationally, the Wall Street Journal has reported that strip mall vacancies continued to rise even after the recession ended. Locally, the picture is mixed. “If you have a grocery-anchored center you’re OK, because people still need to eat,” says J.J. Unger, a retail specialist for Norris, Beggs & Simpson. “But if you’re in a center that wasn’t designed properly, that doesn’t have an anchor, those are the guys having issues.”
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.
Friday, March 20, 2015
BY OB STAFF
Join us to celebrate and network with Oregon’s best green workplaces!
Thursday, February 05, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
We ask chiefs of staff for the scoop on Oregon legislators.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
At Oregon State University, a 21st century version of the bad dream — nuclear terrorism — is alive and well. This winter, the Department of Nuclear Physics and Radiation Health Physics created a new interdisciplinary graduate emphasis in nuclear forensics, a Sherlock Holmes-sounding program that aims to identify how and where confiscated nuclear and radiological materials were created.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
Everyone knows cell phones and driving are a lethal combination. The risk is especially high for teenage drivers, whose delusions of immortality pose such a threat to us all. Enforcement alas, remains feeble; more promising are pedagogical approaches aimed at getting people to focus on the road, not their devices.
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The Commission helps to advance the professionalism, equality and efficiency of Oregon's judicial branch of government.