We put the "Down" in "Downtown"

The O had a story up yesterday (alas, behind the Paywall of Pity) about how the owners of office buildings in downtown and Old Town Portland are putting them up for sale because there are so few tenants left. It's a bad time to own office space anywhere, now that people have figured out how nice it is to work from home. But it's especially bad in downtown Portland, plagued as it is by theft, vandalism, violence, and the out-of-control homeless population, many if not most of them badly in need of mental health services. Workers don't want to be down there all the time. I wouldn't.

And with interest rates rising fast and a recession on the horizon, I'd bet those buildings are going to have "for sale" signs on them for quite a while. Some of them are probably going back to the bank, even.

It's hard to believe that they're going to try to open a fancy Ritz hotel down there. I see they're still saying they're going to put a food hall inside it. But I'm not hearing the names of any actual food providers. Who would try a restaurant business there now, with such poor lunch traffic in the area any more?

Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl about the Nordstom store, which is one of the biggest businesses left downtown. A reader whose news tips are always interesting and usually true suggests that maybe Nordstrom will shut its current shop and wind up with a smaller store inside the Ritz. Stranger things have happened.

The whole situation is so sad. I worked downtown for seven or eight years, decades ago, and it was nice enough most days, even pretty darn cool sometimes. How did we let it fall so far, so fast?

A friend of mine told me a story the other day that really brought it home. He had an out-of-town guest staying with him for a few days. She used to live in Portland. She took a spin downtown, and when she came back to the house and started talking about her day, she broke down crying. I hear ya, friend of a friend.


  1. Finland and Mississippi figured it out> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1M60MRTyzA


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