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Let me get this straight...first we have this statement: "We have too much ground floor area...too much retail space...too few retailers, who seek to sell too many non-essential goods to too few customers..." and then this statement, "Macht also sees the the 12 blocks of the old downtown Post Office as ideal for a major retail space."

So is the issue that we have too much retail and are relying too much on retail to activate our streets or is it that the retail is actually in all the wrong places?


I don't know how effective city planners would be at working to relocate retailers to Broadway. Also Broadway has three lanes of traffic now but will soon be narrowed to just two along the south end.


I think, personally, Broadway should be narrowed to two lanes all the way along, given a cycle path all the way along, and nice, big sidewalks. At that point, I think it would be really ready to be a retail corridor. Frankly, I think for a retail corridor, you want it to be most accessible by pedestrians - they are the most likely to just be passing by and decide to pop in. Second being cyclists, who might be cruising by and just see something they are interested in. Automotive traffic is really only going to stop in a shop if they came to Broadway to shop as a destination. They're not nearly as likely to just see a shop, and quickly pull over and go in. Of course, you want it to be accessible by automobiles, but I think it should be *most* accessible by pedestrians and cyclists.


Can a large scale retailer - such as Costco, Home Depot, or Wal-Mart exist in the urban core, pay market rental rates, and set their products at the same prices as in the suburbs?

It strikes me that his model is based on destination retail. What about a retail model based on neighborhood activity + destination? Some places like the east side corridors, Mississippi, and Alberta seem more driven by neighborhood activity. Lovejoy seems to be both. NW 23rd also seems to be both - but with a little conflict.

I agree that most of the primary buildings were located along Broadway in Portland's early years and that Broadway has a particular east-west and freeway connetions. However, when I think of main street as the primary retail destination I think of strip towns like Las Vegas; arrested in a particular urban form. I believe Portland has evolved beyond that.

Finally, is the cart being placed before the horse? The argument is that we have a retail problem because it is too fragmented therefore retail must be centralized. What about other starting points such as the premise that the regional population is too fragmented? What is the economic driver people or retail?


Here's the real dilemma: 1) developers want or need $25+ per square foot plus NNN for the vast amount of retail space available, 2) small local businesses--especially new ones--cannot afford those rates, 3) larger chain retailers correctly view Portland as a secondary market and will not put more than one location here. If the city were truly progressive, it would designate retail start-up zones that offer discounted rents to new small businesses. Both Stockholm and Berlin have such programs. Sorry but the suggestion to consolidate retail along Broadway isn't exactly earth shattering news.


i know typical retail is all about visibility, but does it have to be car focused? the transit mall just got a huge investment in infrastructure that should bring more people to those streets. perhaps we should focus retail on those streets to make them more successful. maybe this is already in the works and i'm just behind.

i guess it all comes down to destination retail v. local retail. if you think there should be more national chain stores downtown to compete with the suburbs then rip out the post office and build another mall and parking garage using broadway as the ramp from the highways. in my mind, that doesn't seem like the right solution in portland, but i'm a little biased and don't know real estate very well.


The last thing we should do with the PO site is a freakin mall. There is vacant land for that BS
if needed. The PO site is public
[or whatever the PO is these days] and should be used for a Civic Use.


Growing up in a city that had a downtown that had all its retail options focused to a street ended up giving the city one retail street, and the rest of downtown was dead and boring, areas that seemed to lack energy...that is what I love about Portland, there is not just one street that is active downtown, there are several, which includes several large areas of blocks that are active...this is a rare thing with a city our size and we should not overlook that.

As for the PO site, I think the PDC already has an answer for that area, it should extend the park blocks, then allow the additional blocks that are created sold off to developers to create a mix used development...possibly even something that is connected to the North Park Blocks in a way that gives that area of the city a destination or crown to the park blocks.

Portland should not take steps back in order to be like other cities its own size.


I think it would be unwise for the city to fragment the PO site into a park block extension and sell off to developers. It's rare to have a whole piece of land this large in the middle of a vibrant urban core. To break it apart for more of the same seems like a missed opportunity. What about creating a job base in the downtown core that isn't small scale retail? What if you had a thousand high tech jobs right in the middle of town instead or out in Hillsboro clogging up the freeways and eating up valuable farm land?


what's not going to help the downtown core is the new change with no more free parking on Sundays. who really wants to pay to shop down there when so many have mall options or free parking elsewhere in the city.


"They're not nearly as likely to just see a shop, and quickly pull over and go in. Of course, you want it to be accessible by automobiles, but I think it should be *most* accessible by pedestrians and cyclists." Dave

The parking structures were built to make it easy for drivers to pull in and shop. Good question would be how well that's working.

Downtown could certainly benefit from less congestion and pollution produced by cars if it can be done without boggling up some other area, or cutting into downtown's vital income activity; shopping, dining, entertainment and so on . How much of Broadway's car traffic represents traffic represents people coming for those things?

Taking out a lane of traffic on Broadway for bikes and pedestrians may be a fine idea as long as downtown is somehow still able to draw the activity it needs to survive.

Bringing chain stores downtown with the intent to compete for suburban chain store customers. That's could kill downtown's individuality and uniqueness. I've read the occasional article in the NYtimes about receptivity of that city's citizens to chain stores such as Home Depot, Target, Ikea. It's a practical thing...some residents want them, but they're leery of them too, probably for good reason.

"What if you had a thousand high tech jobs right in the middle of town instead or out in Hillsboro clogging up the freeways and eating up valuable farm land?" Jonathan

I look forward to the day when that idea is discussed seriously


The mix and number of "retail cores" or neighborhoods is what makes Portland so great and each neighborhood has it's own vibe.


I agree.


The development plans proposed for the Post Office site under the Broadway retail core plan also seem to disregard the fact that significant height limits have been placed on developments directly adjacent to the Union Station Tower.

A new development in that area is necessary. Although the plans must respond to the proper context provided by the train station.

Is there anything wrong with just continuing to develop the current micro-retail cores we have and leaving the central city as a place that needs to be explored on the neighborhood level just like the rest of Portland? Or should it be laid all out there on Broadway in plain sight?

eric cantona

jonathan's point regarding the post office site is exactly what i would say, and what i believe the city/metro planners are working towards. intel, columbia sportswear, google, who knows what other large employer could come and really pump up the area with actual jobs that push our economy in a sustainable manner.

although i would argue that the park blocks could, and should, still be part of that equation.

baseball? never in a million years.


Will Macht is best known for his passion for parking, and Portland doesn't need any more of that.

Look at Copenhagen's Strøget: Cars were removed from this major traffic street in the 1960's in favor of pedestrians. Businesses threw a fit initially. Since that time, the city has opened up a number of connecting pedestrian streets through the city, creating a unified network of extremely successful retail zones. Copenhagen continues to remove 4% of parking each year to make room for more pedestrian and bike zones or parks and squares.

What Portland business would object to the exposure to the 100,000 people that shop on Strøget daily?


"Will Macht is best known for his passion for parking, and Portland doesn't need any more of that." Scott

Is he? Wonder what he said or did to get that renown.

Portland seems to have kind of an addiction to on-street parking...probably because it produces big bucks. I'd certainly like to see the city working more towards eliminating some of the on street parking in situations where more room is needed, such as the bike lane now being installed near PSU, for which one of Broadway's three lanes of travel are being removed.

Wouldn't it have been better to put some of that parking revenue money towards a parking lot or parking structure, and get some of the parked cars off the street, thus allowing the additional lane to remain for travel or other more productive use?


Actually on street parking has another function that you are missing ws, which is something urban planners swear by in this city and why it is believed essential for pedestrian traffic. Urban planners feel that on street parking creates a buffer from pedestrians and moving traffic, thus giving the sidewalks a safer feeling.

Which one could easily make the claim this is true by walking up 4th Ave where there is a buffer, and Burnside, where there is not, and see which sidewalk feels more comfortable to walk on.

Whether you believe this to work or not is another thing, but that is what is being taught to urban planners that on street parking is a good quality to have in a city.

Justin M

I live on NW 23rd, and parked cars make a decent buffer, but when you are sitting outside on a narrow sidewalk, you can get a serious faceful of exhaust from someone who is slowwwwly parallel parking.

I have long thought the anti-parking structure people are misguided. Imagine: instead of having all these parked cars lining the streets, and all the cars creeping along trolling for spots and taking up spots used by neighborhood people, just have a nice, sensitively-illuminated parking structure or two somewhere on the strip. Then the space now used for parking cars up and down the street could be used for a decent bike lane and some biggish eco-gutters or planters. Then keep the street two-way. Pedestrian bliss.


dennis, it's a good point that there is a value associated with on-street parking as a buffer between moving traffic an pedestrians. Is this though, a strong argument in situations where the moving traffic is people on bikes, or where the general speed of the moving traffic is, for example, 20mph or less?

I'd agree that walking up Burnside is kind of nasty. The parked cars help some to make that experience feel safer, but it's still kind of unpleasant, and not so much due to the hard-times people there as it is to the speed and volume of the motor vehicle traffic on that street. The draft those vehicles kick up and the dirt it carries along with it...and the noise the vehicles produce, diminish the pedestrian street experience on Burnside. Burnside just has to carry too many cars. For whatever reason...slower traffic, fewer cars?...Broadway doesn't seem as bad that way.

I find 23rd mostly decent. Traffic seems to move about 15-20 mph through there. Actually...the sidewalks are too narrow...a great reason to pull out some on street parking...commit the money to underground parking in that neighborhood...build wider sidewalks.

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