Archive for the ‘Business & Development’ Category

In production

Did you know there are two feature films either currently in production or that will begin filming in Portland in the near future?

Thanks to a visit to the Oregon Film & Video Office’s Web site, I learned this bit of information along with finding out which films recently completed production. For example, “Coraline,” a new animated feature film based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, is in post-production at Portland-based LAIKA Entertainment.

Be on the lookout for film crews in the coming weeks. “Twilight” begins filming in late February, but I heard “The Burning Plain” started filming here a few days ago.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to be an extra. Or, perhaps brush elbows with the assistant to the assistant to Charlize Theron while getting your morning coffee.

South Waterfront WTF?

South Waterfront/Fog

As I stare blankly out of my office window this dreary Monday morning, all I see is construction. Portland’s South Waterfront is a work in progress. As a “new guy” to this city, this area has me really puzzled. It in no way “gels” with what I know to be Portland. A pain in the ass to get to, ugly sky rise condos, and a pretty lame chain restaurant are all that it seems to offer so far. This is aside from an OHSU building full of clinics/a place I go to get a paycheck.

Whose vision was this? Are people really buying those condos? Isn’t this a floodplain? Is anyone excited about this area except for the property owners, which I hear are having a difficult time selling? Am I already an anti-development Portlander? Could I ask anymore questions?

Up and Coming


We live in the Woodlawn neighborhood. The neighborhood’s borders are NE Ainsworth on the south, NE Columbia on the north, Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd on the west and NE 22nd on the east. If you’ve ever driven up MLK and come to the intersection with a Safeway, Walgreens, Starbucks and Popeye’s on each corner, that’s where we start. When we bought a house here in the summer of 2006, we were told it was an “up and coming” neighborhood. I think that must be real estate speak for “rapidly gentrifying”. Look at us, Ma – we’re gentrifyin’!

We live a block south of Dekum and 8th, right off the Dekum Triangle. Lest you think airplanes and yachts have mysteriously disappeared in this area, let me assure you the nomenclature is due to the unusual arrangement of the streets. A legacy of the days when there was a railroad depot in the ‘hood, the typical grid of Portland streets suddenly twists on it’s axis 45 degrees here, leaving a large number of oddly shaped lots and intersections. The Dekum Triangle is basically the intersection of Dekum, Durham and Oneonta, just west of beautiful Woodlawn Park.

Aside from the Safeway/Starbucks intersection, there’s not much happening in Woodlawn, aside from the Village Ballroom building (which also houses a second-hand clothes store and punk rock record store). Most residents were cheered when the long-anticipated revival of the Dekum Triangle was set in motion this fall by the opening of Good Neighbor Pizza.

LA Times profiles Powell’s

My mother-in-law turned me onto a Los Angeles Times article today about my favorite bookstore in the world. It talks about how Powell’s, despite being such a success, could be somewhat of a victim of continued book sales growth online, in particular used book sales by individuals setting up shop in places like eBay and Amazon. Other potential listed problems include new book costs and described “union woes.” You do find though the bookstore has been run by crafty and thinking ahead management and looks to continue that way in the future.

It’s a good read on a bookstore described by the LA Times as “an almost perfect blend of the massive scale of a chain bookstore and the bohemian vibe of a neighborhood independent.”

Bye-Bye Abandoned Shopping Carts

I think that I could call this hot-line every single day. There are always shopping carts – I assume from the nearby Albertsons – sitting along my street. But what I wonder is if they’ll pick up carts that are obviously on private property, not just along the boulevards or near bus stops?

I have neighbors who are um…interesting….to say the least. They have a personal collection of shopping carts on their lawn. Sometimes just one – sometimes two or three. I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen them out collecting cans from the neighborhood, and while they have several cars in the driveway – I’ve never seen any of them move and I believe they usually walk to the grocery store. So they do use the carts, but when they’re not in use they don’t put them in the garage, they leave them out on the lawn.

My neighborhood is by no means fancy, but their house is one of just a few that looks trashy.

No – I’ve never talked to them about it – my one conversation with them put me off a bit. I met one of the three roommates shortly after moving in a few years ago when she was sitting outside reading a magazine and drinking a beer when I got home from work. She couldn’t go inside because her roommates were “preoccupied” (my word, hers was R-rated.) This is what she yells at me from across the street just after introducing ourselves.

So if I call the shopping cart hotline on them, do you think they’ll get picked up from where they sit up near the house?

Should I call – or is that being a bad neighbor?

Is Fred Meyer Shopping Local?

fred-meyer.jpgIs shopping at Fred Meyer considered shopping locally? That’s the question I’m pondering right now as the Sustainable Business Network of Portland is busy promoting its Celebrate the Season 2007: Buy Local Week Dec. 1-9. The idea here is obviously to get you to put your buying dollars back into the local economy – the SBNP states that by doing so you can have “out of every $100 spent with a locally owned business, $43 of that $100 stays in the local economy, while only $13 stays here when you buy from a non-locally owned chain store.”

The last part of that statement is where I get a little hung up. Fred Meyer was at one time owned locally of course. Wikipedia states the company was founded here in 1922. This of course changed in 1999 via the merger with Kroger out of Cincinnati, OH. Kroger still maintains a Fred Meyer division office here in Portland. It states in this decision that “the company believes in operating divisions under banners that have strong local ties and brand equity. Throughout our history, as the company has made strategic acquisitions of strong local operations, we have followed the philosophy of keeping the merchandising decisions closest to the customer.”

So the question is thus: is shopping at Fred Meyer, with its strong local ties and division headquarters still here in Portland, considered shopping local? I’m definitely on the fence on this one (my wife thinks it isn’t) so I’d love to hear some opinions.

Hollywood Value Village, I really miss you…

Value Village of Hollywood
[photo by VJ Beauchamp]

Even though my neighborhood Value Village closed its doors early this month, I must still shed a tear or two. Soon after Halloween, I was on one of my weekly trips to “the Village,” only this time, my excitement for foraging through discarded treasures was replaced by shock. All the shelves were removed, and the remaining inventory was piled into the center of the store. I immediately asked one of the employees what was going on, and was sadly informed that the store was closing its doors due to the fact that the current lease had expired, and the landlord was demanding a huge increase in the rent upon renewal. Since Value Village could not afford the new lease, they had to close shop, which unfortunately also meant that all employees were out of a job as well.

Future Trains

Okay, so it isn’t a train of the future but it’s a train that may be in Portland’s future.

Want to find out about the proposed Portland-Milwaukie light rail stations? METRO is holding two open house meetings so that people can learn about the ideas from past workshops, share ideas about the proposed stations and generally find out what is going on with the project.

There’s an open house tonight in the Sellwood Middle School Cafeteria (8300 SE 15th Avenue) and another tomorrow night (Tuesday the 27th) in the OMSI Auditorium (1945 SE Water Avenue). If you’ve got an opinion on the project maybe you should pop in and share it.

With Outlaws out, who could move in?

Empty Ballroom

Last month, the sometimes country, sometimes rock ‘n roll club Outlaws closed due to alleged financial shenanigans. Whenever I walk by and see the “for lease” signage, I wonder what could go into that space.

Over the summer, I took dance classes at Viscount Studios and dreaded when there was a show at Outlaws because it meant a ton of people on the waiting to get into the club and the sound would drown out whatever music was being played during the dance class. (Although, maybe there is a market for Salsa Hardcore somewhere…)

Given the popularity of the Doug Fir, which is just up the street, as a music venue attracting local and national bands alike, I wonder who would want to move into that space now and continue booking bands, regardless of genre.

So, Portland, what would you like to see move into that space on E. Burnside?

Another Williams/Edling Land Grab in the Making

Anybody who pays attention to commercial real estate and development in Portland knows the names Homer Williams and Mark Edlen. Astute observers also know they’ve had their eyes on the Lincoln High School for a while. Now we find out that they’ve met with Erik Sten to discuss a land grab that would move Lincoln to an industrial waste land and open up Lincoln’s choice eleven acres to condo towers… subsidized by urban renewal dollars.

Tellingly, no school district leaders were involved in the talks. Given Sten’s failure to grasp how Portland Public Schools policy works at cross purposes with his ideation of affordable housing near strong neighborhoods schools, we should be very, very concerned.

Neighborhood schools activists have long suspected the motives of the district’s real estate policies. And the machinations of Homer Williams and Mark Edlen have been well chronicled on Jack Bog’s Blog.

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