Other concerns about the "Portlandization of Astoria" point to residents not wanting Astoria to be ruined "the way Portland has been ruined," not wanting Astoria to be "Portland's suburb," and wanting to "not 'keep it weird', let's keep it Astoria."
The only problem? Bunk was never buying the building.
On May 16, The Daily Astorian reported Bunk was trying to buy a downtown building called Odd Fellows, which currently houses two gift shops, a coffee shop and an arts center—something Bunk co-owner Tommy Habetz says isn't happening.
"I have no idea what's going on in Astoria. Neither Bunk nor myself nor Pizza Jerk are going into Astoria," Habetz told WW in an email. "I look at a lot of commercial real estate deals. Somehow this got blown way out of proportion."
The story has since been corrected.
The claim was based on potential buyer Tacee Webb's social media accounts, as well as a business application for "Oddfellows Astoria LLC," which was filed by Webb, but was filed under Bunk owner Tommy Habetz's name. Currently a brand consultant, Webb was co-founder of the Red Light Clothing Exchange in the '90s.
On her Facebook and Instagram, Webb wrote:
Astoria is happening…a new venue, new living space, record shop, great eats and looks like there’s a clothing store on the corner. Our little magic coastal kingdom! Coming soon
In response to a commenter who wrote: "What's your plan?", Webb responded:
To be crowned the Queen of Astoria by 2018
And also…there are 4 storefronts. 4 levels. 4000 sf on 3 levels and 1150 4th living space. I plan to open a venue in the ballroom with a bar. You’ll looooooove it. Eventually I will also have a shop on the main level also, apparel.
Both Habetz and Webb say that the paper did not reach them before the original story ran.
"We strongly stand behind our reporter's work," Deputy Managing Editor Derrick DePledge told WW in an email.
He explained the initial story, which described Bunk as the potential buyer for the building, was based on an email from Webb to one of the building's tenants, which referred to Habetz as her partner, and that Habetz was listed on Webb's Oddfellows Astoria LLC.
DePledge says reporter Katie Frankowicz reached out to Habetz, who did not respond.
"After Webb called and insisted that Bunk has nothing to do with the Odd Fellows Building purchase," DePledge writes, "we agreed to update the story online around 11:30 a.m., about two hours after the initial post. That story is what appeared in our print edition. Webb has continued to characterize our story as inaccurate but she has not identified any errors."
Webb is still a potential buyer, but no deal has been closed. She says she's already received an enormous amount of backlash after the article and petition.
"I got an email from somebody calling himself 'the mortician' threatening me if I bought the building," she says.
Petition signers listed their reasons for disapproving of the plan, in language that might seem familiar to a lot of Portlanders.
Teresa Retzlaff of Astoria wrote:
Starting out by displacing small local businesses and a much loved community organization is not the best way to join the Astoria community. Doing to Astoria what has been done to Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and more will not bring back the vibrancy of those places. It will only add Astoria to the list of cities that used to be creative, affordable, community minded; a great place to live and work. Why not stay in Portland and invest your money in helping that city re-gain some of what has been lost by making affordable living/creative space there?
Cindie Adams-Hiner of Boise wrote:
I lived in Astoria for 9years while my ex husband was in the Coast Guard. I have felt is always the newcomers job to find a way to fit in with a community. Not the other way around. Yes we all have something to contribute but it is important to blend in without pushing out those who have been there before. Astoria is a beautiful place to live. If you want to be crowned then enter a beauty contest. Buy a home and call it your coastal kingdom. There is no special allowances for those seeking royal rule in the USA. I believe that Astoria is a special place and it does not need to be a mini Portland.
Patricia Reither of Astoria wrote:
I am a lifelong resident, and I am appalled that someone from out of town would act like it is her domain to do as she will. Queen indeed! If she expects to be welcomed and to succeed in the plan she has for the businesses she’s intent on, she has too many romantic notions and little business sense. This is a small working class town, not a annex to a gentrified Portland, for her and her pals to take over. Another bar and a clothing store? How many can a town this size support? And displacing our homegrown businesses for her pipedream? Not cool.
Webb says her goals are simple. "I fell in love with Portland and bought a beautiful historic building and restored it," she says. "I wanted to do this again in Astoria."