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I think the loading dock at the prime corner of SW 10th/Alder is a big issue, though more an urban design issue. I want to see this store as much as anyone else downtown but dead groundfloors especially in prime locations are destructive to pedestrian traffic. Even just shifting the loading dock over a bay to the east might allow for a tiny hole-in-the-wall storefront on the corner like the Pizza Schmizza in the Fox Tower or the Elephants Coffeestand in Macys (along the transit mall) which would do wonders to keep this key corner active. SW 10th has become one of the main N-S retail streets in downtown Portland.

Ideally the loading dock and freight elevator core would go on Alder closer to 9th Ave where that useless entrance and poor retail location is in the Galleria. This would allow a normal retail space to remain at SW 10th/Alder where Collier and Made in Oregon was which would be even more valuable with the new Target foot traffic.

BTW, I'm just curious, will the Target store have customer parking? Would it be validated or on your own? Use the basement parking garage or the SmartPark across Morrison with the skybridge?

Fred Leeson

Just to clarify, the loading docks would take out the two window bays immediately west of the basement parking ramp. The two window bays closest to 10th on Alder would not be affected by the loading scheme.

Justin Morton

I am torn on this one. I lived in downtown Chicago for a year and there was a Target store similar to this one smack dab in the center of the city. And I used it all the time. Loved it. But that building was much newer, and it appeared to have been developed specifically to host a big box store.

If Target keeps the alterations to the facade of this building at a minimum, then I say let them build it. But if Target is going to eliminate ground-level retail with their loading docks, then I say no. There is no reason to rush into this. One Target store is not going to magically fix downtown's commercial scene. You need lower unemployment and a stronger economy to do that.


Fred, having only seen the pre-app plans, I recall the freight elevator core for the store would be between the loading dock and the corner? If I understand correctly, the exterior would stay the same but there would only be space for a display window on the corner.


It seems that the urban design issues and the historic concerns align fairly well with this project. Traditionally, the big box folks are quite poor at providing street presence. (I think that Target is one of the better ones, though.) I hope Art and the rest of the commission don't budge on this at all. While it would be great to have Target there, we need to remember that these design decisions will last 20 plus years, at least the length of their lease. Sure, they may restore some things but it cannot come at the cost of really screwing up the corner.

Fred Leeson

Pipinghot...If there was any discussion of the freight elevator, I missed it. The commission's jurisdiction is only over the building's exterior.

Sy Ableman

I think a Target store would be a significant enhancement to Downtown Portland as a residential neighborhood. At the same time, I'm concerned about the impact that two loading bays plus a parking garage entrance are likely to have on walkability. Because of its proximity to one of the city's largest food cart pods and to highly-frequented streetcar stops, SW Alder has become a major pedestrian thoroughfare.

At last week's Landmarks Commission hearing, Target representatives made two assertions that deserve closer scrutiny:

  1. Target says that loading bays cannot be placed on SW 9th due to PBoT's concerns about the ability of trucks to negotiate the necessary turns onto such a narrow street. This may well be a legitimate issue, but it's worth probing further: Was PBoT referring to the smaller, 28-ft trucks? Are there any modifications that would make this turn possible? Is PBoT saying that drivers would actually be unable to make this turn or just that it would not be optimal?

  2. Due to the high turnover of merchandise that they expect at this downtown location, Target says that it needs two loading bays. But are two bays a necessity or just a convenience? In an era of cell phone communication and just-in-time inventory and GPS tracking, would it not be possible for Target to supply this store through careful staging of delivery? I don't pretend to understand the challenges of stocking a large store such as this, but I would definitely like to see the math before I conclude that Target might not be able to get by with a single loading bay if it were willing to make some accommodations.


Sy, further to your point #1, what truck size WOULD work on 9th? If that is the best area for loading, just make it happen. If Target really wants to be there, that probably won't stop them even though they might at first say it would. (Unless you can only fit a Honda Civic on that side, then I would see their point.)

Jim Heuer

Mudd raises an interesting question relative to just what would it take to make use of the historic 9th Avenue docks, where the predecessor department stores received their merchandise deliveries for decades.

The PBOT folks appear to have argued that getting trucks to turn into 9th from Alder would be too difficult. Certainly that would be true of the standard 53' van trailers that typically make chain store deliveries. But a 27' or 28' (both are standards) van could do it easily. The problem would be getting such a van around a turn on 9th Avenue into an inside dock. That was never done in historic times and actually needn't be done now.

The solution would be a small fleet of 28' van units with side doors and a small modification of the existing 9th Avenue docks and the associated sidewalk to allow the vans to pull up alongside the building and unload from the side. While this type of equipment is not extremely common, it is offered by most of the major truck and van suppliers as an optional design for exactly this type of delivery.

The fact is that the cost of two or three such special units would be a fraction of the total cost of the remodel required by Target, and the end result would be preservation of valuable window display space facing Alder. It would also free up interior space otherwise required for the interior unloading bays. Since deliveries to big box stores typically are done by closed systems from central distribution centers using contract or dedicated fleet carriers, the scheduling and dispatch of the equipment is completely in Target's control, and could likely be handled by their existing systems.

If Target intends to be a player in central city urban retail, it will need to figure out how to operate in areas with narrow streets and awkward access by 53' van trailers. Inner city Philadelphia, Boston, Manhattan, and others come to mind. Portland is absolutely not unique in this regard.

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