Thursday, November 30, 2006

Denial in Downtown

It's funny to see, in the aftermath of the Schumacher Fur announcement that they are leaving downtown Portland, the absolute denial that there is anything wrong with the retail environment in downtown Portland that needs to be fixed.

In today's Oregonian, Steve Duin ridicules Greg Schumacher to task for mentioning that street musicians were one of the reasons he was leaving. The O's editorial page mentioned it also, and went on to insist that Schumacher's problem was "store-specific" and not a sign of a general retail malaise in downtown.

OK, fine. There's no problem when so many streets are torn up to install the latest phase of "smart growth" that you can't drive through the city (much less park) without first figuring out which streets are closed. There's no problem when every 30 steps you are faced with another aggressive panhandler. Or when you drive in fear that the Mayor himself is going to conduct a sting operation on you for rolling into the crosswalk before he has made it to the other side of the street. Or when Critical Mass clogs up the grid every Friday, led by the Mayor himself.

No, none of this has anything to do with the growth of wonderful places like Bridgeport Village, where Schumacher Fur is likely to wind up.

Go to Bridgeport if you want to understand how irrelevant downtown Portland is going to be in a few years. Bridgeport is everything that the Smart Growthers hate: it is completely auto-oriented, upscale, and private. It doesn't want to be "wierd," it wants to create an environment that makes people want to come to and spend time and money in.

And it is fabulously successful.

Who in their right mind would prefer to shop in downtown Portland, hassle with traffic and parking and panhandlers rather than the almost Disneyland-like environment of Bridgeport? Well, fewer and fewer people, it seems, which is what the Oregonian is trying to deny.

The O's protestations notwithstanding, downtown Portland does not exist in a vacuum. It can't treat its retailers and its shoppers as if they have nowhere else to go. Tom Potter's refusal to deal with the fur protesters sends a signal to everyone: if your business isn't in favor among the "smarter than you" set, you are fair game. They don't want you and they won't help you.

They have a vision for Portland. Fine. They can have Portland. Occupied territory. We'll stay out.


divebarwife said...

The fact that you compare Bridgeport Village to Disneyland says it all. Walt Disney was a fascist and a racist. And Bridgeport Village is the mouth to hell. Pretentious yuppies. Overindulged children.
No Thanks!

ShopGal said...

Mrs. "divebar",
Your opinion is rather interesting. I frequent Bridgeport Village and in fact it's my family's favorite place to shop or spend a weekend afternoon since there's something for everyone! I am pretty sure that Walt Disney had nothing to do with Bridgeport Village, making your assumption pretty irrelevant. From what I've seen, Bridgeport Village has a very diverse customer base. As far as "overindulged children" are concerned all I can say is, YIKES... I sure hope you aren't referring to my children or the children of my loved ones - that's pretty harsh.

Rob Kremer said...

Bridgeport village is the "mouth to hell?"

So you don't like nice restaurants, comfortable movie theatres, Borders bookstores, and upscale retail?

OK, but "mouth to hell?" You are really funny!

Jack Bog said...

Then there are the anarchist clowns wrecking some poor local guy's business on Alberta Street, just because he and his patrons have money. Nothing can be done about that, either. Go by streetcar! No thanks.

Scott said...

Get a load of what Mayor Tom Porter thinks of this.

Dare!PDX said...

Lets point out some realities.

REI, New Seasons and Whole Foods are anchor tenants in the vacinity of Bridgeport Village. They are destinations for shoppers which Bridgeport has to improve the customer base for its tenants. Similar market demographic as those who live in the Pearl and will live in the SoWhat district.

If Bridgeport caters to "facists and racist" guess what? Welcome to facist and racist Portland.

These are the same people (facists you call them) smart growth seeks to attract to the urban core and is failing beyond subsidy.

Jim Karklock said...

The fact that you compare Bridgeport Village to Disneyland says it all. Walt Disney was a fascist and a racist. And Bridgeport Village is the mouth to hell. Pretentious yuppies. Overindulged children.
No Thanks!
JK: Looks like the Portland Planning/PDCMetro employees found this site!

Well, divebarwif, do you have anything intelligent to say? Any points to make? Any analysis of why it is “the mouth to hell”. I am, however surprised by your reference to “Pretentious yuppies”, because that is what Portland planners/PDC Metro is attracting to the region. Their policies are making the region too expensive for ordinary people as they waste billions subsidizing one yuppie playground after another in Portland.


tyler said...

I agree with every single problem described with downtown, yet I steer very clear of bridgeport. If I wanted to live like I was in Southern California, i would move down to that shit-hole.