Greg Goodman, whose family is among Portland's largest landowners, yesterday sent a terse email to Mayor Ted Wheeler and his fellow City Council members urging them to turn their attention to cleaning up downtown streets.
The Goodman family built its property holdings as part of City Center Parking, which was for decades the dominant purveyor of commercial parking downtown. They sold City Center's parking business in 2013 but retained ownership of the land on which the lots operated, including the super-block bordered by Southwest 9th and 10th avenues and Alder and Washington Streets that is being converted from food cart use to a new hotel/luxury condo project.
Goodman noted in his email that The Standard, an insurance company that is one of the largest employers downtown, recently relocated its employees to a suburban location.
"Their departure has absolutely nothing to do with [the] Black Lives Matter movement (which has been a positive), but does have most everything to do with the lawlessness you are endorsing downtown," Goodman writes. "I suggest all of you walk downtown and when you see a shop or business that is open and not boarded up, stop in and talk to the owner or worker."
Goodman has been less than pleased with the city's approach to homelessness downtown for some time. But his email appeared to be a next-level complaint raising the alarm about what Portland's downtown business district could look like in the future.
"If you know a retail or office broker, give them a call and ask them how many clients they have are trying to leave," Goodman writes. "The number is like nothing I have seen in 42 years of doing business in downtown."
Wheeler's spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here's Goodman's full email:
Dear Mayor Wheeler and city council members;
I have attached an article from a recent Business Journal relating to Standard Insurance, the largest private business in downtown Portland, moving their employees to their Hillsboro campus for safety reasons. A larger number of businesses are moving out of or locating outside of the Central City. These companies include, Daimler Chrysler (subleasing 100k SF), AirB&B, Banana Republic, Microsoft (80k SF, plus permanently closing their retail store), Saucebox, etc.. Google, who leased 90k SF in the Macy's building has stopped construction of their improvements. The list goes on and on. If you know a retail or office broker, give them a call and ask them how many clients they have are trying to leave. The number is like nothing I have seen in 42 years of doing business in downtown.
Their departure has absolutely nothing to do with Black Lives Matter movement (which has been a positive), but does have most everything to do with the lawlessness you are endorsing downtown. You are doing an excellent of enabling people who don't know or care about George Floyd to ransack our city at the expense of the people you are trying to help. Think how many jobs have been lost by people of color in our city, not through protest, but from vandalism. I would make the case that your actions have hurt those you have intended to help.
I would encourage each of you to walk around downtown Portland in the morning. Name the time and I will give you a tour. You aren't sweeping the streets, needles are all over the place, garbage cans are broken and left open, glass from car windows that have been broken out is all over the streets, parks are strewn with litter (their fountains turned off) weeds are taller than the plants in the planter boxes, graffiti is on sculptures, etc. You are willfully neglecting your duties as elected officials to keep our city safe and clean.
What outreach have you had to small business and retailers to tell them that you have their backs and are going to help them. You actions, or lack thereof, have been to the contrary. You have shown them you don't care and as a result a huge number of innocent and hardworking people have been victimized with some being placed on the street.
I suggest all of you walk downtown and when you see a shop or business that is open and not boarded up, stop in and talk to the owner or worker. Hear what they have to say. Ask what you can do for them. Let them know you care. As importantly, get going on cleaning things up. Get the streets swept, double down on sidewalk washing and cleaning, replace the burnt out newspaper boxes, paint the light standards, get the parks in order, etc.
Most importantly, show some pride. Own the situation and make it better. If you lead, others will follow. They just want to know you care and are doing something about it. Let them know we will get through this together and this is how the city is going to lead.
Thanks for your consideration of my comments. Let me know how I can partner in your efforts.