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Notes from PDC/Home Depot meeting

Portland is considering letting Home Depot move in to the east base of the Burnside Bridge. Today they held a public meeting asking for input on the pros and cons.
I never meant to go there as a reporter, I just wanted to see what was going on. I was curious to see how such a well-planned city acted when it set policy and asked for input. I also wanted to see if they were serious about the proposed Home Depot placement so close in to downtown, and why.

The city was asking the community if we thought a big box store was appropriate there, and if so, if Home Depot was a good fit for the area. They booked a large meeting room (actually three small rooms with the dividers removed) at the Goodwill building on SE 6th and Harrison, and the place was packed standing room only. Representatives from more neighborhood associations than I knew existed were there, as well as people who worked in local hardware stores, people who lived there and even a representative of the local skateboard community (who sensably pointed out that they had been very good neighbors for the last 14 years, and thus they really should be included in any discussions about Burnside Bridge developement, since their park is under the bridge).

The public was given the chance to speak, and the adgenda had to be extended quite a long time to give everyone a chance to give info on why this is an abysmally stupid plan (I suppose people could have spoken in favor of the plan as well, but nobody seemed to be so inclined). The city's position is that
A) this is a very hard chunk of land to develop due to lack of interest,
B) not many anchors would want to move in here,
C) they really want to do this.

The public's positions are far too many for me to type here, and far too complex to accurately recall, but here are some highlights that I overheard:

A) This store would kill off a few dozen local hardware, paint, lumber and DIY shops
B) Something like $0.63 of every dollar spent in HD stores goes to Georgia
C) They are staunchly anti-union
D) They are matched by Lowes stores whenever they build, so this is not ONE but TWO stores we are looking at
E) They will add around 6,000 cars a day in traffic to the area
F) They do not have many full-time, family wage jobs per square foot of use, as opposed to other stores.
G) They need a huge parking lot, since nobody can carry home plywood on the bus. A
H) They have given around $1,500,000 to Bush's election campaign
I) Home Depot copies Wal-Mart's "seven mile" strategy*: to have one store every seven miles
J) A Home Depot store is not really the image that part of Portland wants to have.

The people chairing the meeting seemed to be OK, but the rep from the PDC seemed to totally disregard all the input. At the close of the meeting he seemed 100% unphased, and repeated his statements about this basically being the only option to develope that area since no other large investor wants it.

More meetings will be scheduled in the future, and the city claims to not be locked into a deal at this point (but have not even hinted at there being an alternative to Home Depot in downtown).

-Teddy Ruxpin

* The "seven mile" strategy goes on the assumption that people will always be willing to travel 3.5 miles to save a few bucks or go to a store with name recognition. The application of it is thus: Build a store at one end of town, then build a store at the other end. Fill in the middle to result in a corridor of one store every seven miles that cuts the urban area in half, then branch out from the sides until the area is saturated with one store every seven miles. Inside this area, no competitor will be able to operate because every person in this area is only 3.5 miles from the nearest Home Depot and their savings/selection. The Burnside Bridge idea will link the Vancouver store, Jantzen Beach store and SE 82nd St. Store into the "corridor" that will divide the city.

It is a simple and effective "divide and conquor" strategy. To see how this works, look at Oklahoma City, which has over 30 wal-marts in the metro area. This is the eventual marketing goal of all big box stores, based on sound marketing and effective business practices that have been proven to work.

thanks 20.May.2004 19:33


Thank you for your informative report. That was good reporting. I think b!X will have one up soon, too, for people who want more.

thank you!! 20.May.2004 22:14


thanks for the excellent report. i couldn't make this meeting and so am very grateful for the report. F* Home Depot!

sinister 20.May.2004 22:54


I love the info on the "the seven mile strategy"....that is so sinister, and should be reason enough for many presently naieve people to get off their butts and start voicing disapproval of the those kind of corporations. I couldn't figure out the opposition to hdepot until I started checking in on indy regulary...thanks pals...

Home improvement is good 20.May.2004 23:05


I think WalMart is evil but how can a comprehensive home improvement center be bad? There are still thousands of inner Portland homes that need a LOT of improvement and a store like Home Depot or Lowe's can makee it so much easier and doable. Anything to make it easier is good. Its too overwhelming to go to all these different scattered places. Home Depot has a HUGE lumber supply section and its all inside and dry and beautiful. I am sure some guys move to the frickin burbs just to be near a Lowe's or Home Depot. Besides if no one else has the guts to "invest" in this dilapidated infill area then let Home Depot.

Home Improvement 20.May.2004 23:42


Think about it. Thousands of old inner city Portland homes desperately needing home improvement. Yet not one Home Depot or Lowe's within 15 miles. Out in the 'burbs, thousands of much newer homes with Home Depots and Lowe's within 3 miles. What is wrong with this picture?!

seven mile 20.May.2004 23:51


The seven mile strategy is simply a marketing policy, and a very effective one. Starbucks uses a similar strategy but on a different scale. It works, you can't deny that.

If you want to learn more about the history of american marketing and advertising psychology, study Harvey Kellogg. All modern american marketing goes back to Kellogg's innovations (the guy was so good he convinced our entire country to give up breakfast as we knew it, and start eating this stuff called "cereal."). Then read up on Sam Walton (founder of wal-mart).

Learn from them, and you will be impressed. Hey, if you were fighting a war, you would study Rommel, right? Well you are fighting a war against the decendants of Kellogg, so study up on the master to beat the student.

PDC phone number 21.May.2004 00:14

Teddy Ruxpin (the lousy typist)

Just for kicks, here is the number form the www.pdc.us website (no idea why it is a .us extension) for "developement services."


Give them a few dozen rings and let them know exactly how you feel about a Home Depot.

 http://www.pdc.us/contact/default.asp here are the contacts.

By the way, it was not mentioned before but Home Depot would get a huge tax break for doing us the favor of moving in.

Huzza! 21.May.2004 07:10


Teddy you are da media!

Thanks for the reportage. These blocks have been dead (unused / underused) for over a decade - but, as Erik Sten said in response to an immature comment about the furture of the Memorial Coliseum recently, "this proposal needs some more visioning."

Don't just fuck Home Depot 21.May.2004 08:24


Fuck the PDC!!!

Don Mazziotti and his cadre are all butt suckers to the corporate elite. You try and talk to them about local small businesses being the ones they should be helping, and they nod their heads and go on spending all their public money on serving the big-time venture capitalists and corporadoes. Which commissioner is in charge of these guys? We need to have their plug pulled!

If I am not mistaken, 21.May.2004 10:45


I believe Jim Francessoni is in charge of the PDC until November. I could be wrong though.

Good job on report 21.May.2004 11:11

Brian S

In the City Commissioner Race, I brought this subject up a few times bring up some of the same reasons why Home Depot would be bad. Just for the record both candidates in the runoff for Seat #1 said they where against it this was after quite a few forums which I brought the subject. So if they vote in favor of it, you can call them on it:)

also 21.May.2004 11:12

Brian S

Nick Fish is endoresed by the PDC and PBA.

Home Depot is bad for that location 21.May.2004 14:40


Home Depot is developing more city stores which are smaller and carry less lumber, concrete, etc. which are lower margin and harder to store. A city Home Depot would carry exactly what Winks, Ace Hardware, Portland Nursery, etc. would carry and put them out of business, no question.

You are right that there are plenty of homes in that area which need buiding materials but Home Depot is not the answer. There is a lumber yard on Powell about 30th and a Parr Lumber on maybe NW 19th, about Pettygrove.

Develop stores and offices below and apartments above at MLK and Burnside - cool river view and access too.

Parr Lumber 21.May.2004 16:49

has supported a number

of conservative causes. Back when Union Ave. was being re-named MLK Jr Blvd. (I'm almost sure) they opposed the name change. The idea of a Home Depot in that location makes no sense. The parking situation would really be a nightmare. There's already a HD at Mall 205.

hrm 21.May.2004 22:15


(1) Francesconi is not in charge of PDC. No single commissioner in charge of PDC.

(2) PDC did not endorse anybody. As an agency of the City, that's not something they can do.

EASY? 22.May.2004 06:00


To: Stan,
"I think WalMart is evil but how can a comprehensive home improvement center be bad?"

You are NOT listening to all the GOOD men/women on this forum Oviously!!! Just so you will know for next time so people LIKE YOU will NOT Waste!!! valuable Time, its called(could be doing a LOT of Protesting and Planning OR resting), HD is BAD because they will Obviously put the Local Small Businesses OUT of Business and that means the "corporations" moving in and when they do - you look out. They will control what you buy!! THEN LOOK OUT - then they will suddenly NOT have certain things in stock that can be made to make things with, that protect us with(I not refering to things that kill anyone, just protect ourselves with). Then they will say "sorry", we are out of stock of those and those and those"!!! Next, the food will be next...try to protest on A serious empty STOMACH...every seen a doctor that doesn't do what they are told by police??? What doctor will you go to when you need a doctor ----- I would NOW start getting doctors names or nurses that you know that will help us once in awhile!! Or people start taking 1st Aid Courses!! What wood for houses are we going to have if we chop the trees down? Thats the Least of our problems. I wouldn't want to use wood for houses anyway!
I'm sorry this is long, but I've had to voice these opinions for a longish time. Thank you...

"There are still thousands of inner Portland homes that need a LOT of improvement and a store like Home Depot or Lowe's can makee it so much easier and doable. Anything to make it easier is good."

Since when does a Kraut(I HOPE I spelled it Right(I LOVE being Right). I mean Commie - O.K. those "smiling" NAZI's = when? did they learn to take things so EASY EASY EASy - oh my GOD, I wish LIFE were a little EASIER!!! SMILE... Even if you feel you LIFE is lot better then some others, it is far from EASY!! So that means we "HAVE" go to HD just because thousands of Homes need improvement......DA DA Da - there are MORE SMALLER stores to shop at - LOCAL ones DA DA
Let me tell you about EASY and GOOD - I was minding my own business one day trying to solve a Problem and suddenly I started something that I didn't mean to do and was NOT getting out of control(but of course they judge me later that it WAS out of control - with NO evidence) and the upstairs neighbor complained to the pig "officer".
Then of course there was NO evidence and they threw me in the looney bin. Yeah Right??? They LIED to me saying I would be in there over night. The next morning I had made my bed nice and they questioned me. I was MORE CALM then I've been in the last couple of years. I was NOT be irrational or physcoic or anything out of the Ordinary. I was as calm as anything and you KNOW WHAT they kept me in there for a whole week, without so much as asking my Family or my Husband WHAT I WAS LIKE...then they finally asked my husband over the PHONE what I was like, but could have questioned him ANYTIME when he came to visit ME......NOW YOU TELL ME HOW EASY IT IS!! Now you tell me how easy it is for me to tell the pigs I DON'T have a mental history - like they think I do!!!! Even when my Doctor told me the Looney Bin thinks I Don't now have a mental history - I am blah blah blah - I can't say it here. Since when does "experts" TELL me that I am this and that when they Didn't even so much as talk to me and ask me Humane questions about what I REALLY AM LIKE=I'm aked the SAME dummy questions over and over, the same questions that are asked to different people all the time. No individual therapy AT ALL. OH MY GOD? DON'T be TAKEN IN BY all that EASY B.S. - it is a bunch of Smooth Talking paid for the bush admin. - where have the Billions gone? Remember the song - Where have all the Flowers Gone? YOU BETCHA THE CORPS(CORPSE) WILL MAKE IT EASIER ON US. BLEED$$$ & US DRY...

"Its too overwhelming to go to all these different scattered places."

Speak for YOURself:
He maybe right in a way here, because I've gone here there and everywhere to shop with no car and the endless shopping just drains you! ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU HAVE MINIMUM Pay and you can only buy certain things when you have the money and then you wait for the next paycheque. BUT TO SUPPORT THESE LOCAL STORES I WOULD GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH TO BUY AT THEM MYSELF, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. Please read it over once more and it sounds like he is dripping poisoned honey off of his lips thinking he has convinced us to finally give up the idea of shopping at our Local Stores to support and make OUR Community thrive. You know with his ideas we give what we get and with OUR ideas we could get together and stay together and since we are Very Creative and Intelligent we could get ideas like helping one another to get to these stores in a better way then walking, then we wouldn't be had with HD.................

"Home Depot has a HUGE lumber supply section and its all inside and dry and beautiful."

Now you are REALLY...making me feel sick with your "sellsmenship"!!!
BIG DEAL if they have a "huge" lumber supply - so does the Local supply shops - or if they don't they still will order in what people need. YOU SOUND LIKE YOU CAN'T WAIT TILL THE LOGGER'S START CUTTING MORE FORESTS DOWN to get a more "HUGE" supply of lumber. Listen folks, when you hear people talking like this, you can be SURE that when they Don't offer concrete EXAMPLES of Change then they are NOT above board!!!
SO WHAT??!! So is all other supply stores - dry inside and "beautifull".............since WHEN DOES a wood supply STORE "NEED" to be """"beautifull"""". Oh my GOD, I don't Believe thats I've READ THIS?

"I am sure some guys move to the frickin burbs just to be near a Lowe's or Home Depot."

Well, UNBELIEVABLE, hes telling us what he thinks we feel. WHAT, we would move to the burbs to be near a hardware store. you've got to be KIDDING. WHAT DO YOU TAKE US FOR. A BUNCH OF SHEEP TO RUN TO THE SHEERERS!!?? If I wanted I would rather be near a food store then a wood store. Theres more ways to build a house then with wood!!

"Besides if no one else has the guts to "invest" in this dilapidated infill area then let Home Depot."

Like we are saying we DON'T NEED HD in our City. NO ONE has to have the "guts" to invest in anything! Have you ever heard of a piece of empty ground. Theres TOO Many buildings and NOT Enough Groud to walk on or play on. I never heard you saying that you are suggesting for the City to build a PARK there, you good citizen you!!!
I praise you 4 Being there and contributing and Helping to make this a Better World, like it used to be in the 50's and the 60's!! What I'm doing is contributing artices to Build You up and THANK YOU.

Stan 22.May.2004 15:33


Stan, the things that make Wal-Mart evil are the same thigns that make HD evil; anti-union, anti-living wage, sprawling, economic devastation, putting locals out of business, etc. Sure, buying plywood at HD is easy, just like buying plastic lawn chairs at Wal-Mart is easy.

As for no other store having the guts to invest there, I would rather it go uninvested. A Home Depot would be a huge, sprawling parking lot in the center of a dense neighborhood. It would wind up costing us a lot of tax money, wind up clogging our roads with 6,000 more cars a day, etc. Urban planning is important (just look at the cities without urban planning and compare them to the relatively great place we live). Things like putting an HD in the middle of the city is poor urban planning.

And besides, for christ's sake there is already an HD five minutes up the I-5 from that location. FIVE MINUTES. If you must buy from a company that causes all these problems, you can drive five stinking minutes to get your plywood. You will spend more time than that just circling the parking lot looking for a space anyway.

An interesting stat: Wal-Mart creates 2 low-wage jobs for every three mid-wage jobs they destroy. I wonder how different HD is?

This is a HUUUUGGGGGE Development - Not Just a Home Depot 22.May.2004 18:03

North Portlander

Why not try to attract a local business as the "big box" client? I agree that a Home Depot complex in that location would be a traffic nightmare. As someone else pointed out, there is a Home Depot at Mall 205. There is also one at Jantzen Beach Center. The JBC Home Depot is easily accessible from I-5, relatively close to downtown.

When I was doing repairs and renovations on an older home in SE, I used the excellent hardware stores on Hawthorne and Division. There are also great paint and decor stores. You can't beat the paint and supply prices at Imperial Paint (a locally owned business) on Yeon in NW and there are many other hardware, supplies, and recycled materials businesses in NW and on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. that usually have whatever you'd want and which would undoubtedly be put out of business by a Home Depot.

Here is an article which appeared in today's OREGONIAN business section. This is far more than one simple Home Depot store. No wonder PDC is salivating:

The Burnside Beachhead Development Concept, unveiled at an advisory committee meeting, would cover FIVE BLOCKS
by Wade Nkrumah, The Oregonian

New details about a possible Home Depot development at the east end of the Burnside Bridge suggest the retail project could cover five blocks and include hundreds of housing units, other retail stores and office space.

Portland Development Commission publicly presented the proposal Thursday for the first time at an advisory committee for the Central Eastside Urban Renewal District.

Called the Burnside Beachhead Development Concept, the project would have as many as 450 multifamily housing units; 170,000 square feet of retail - 100,000 for the anchor tenant and 70,000 for smaller shops; 150,000 square feet of offices and abouat 1,200 parking places.

The concept faced strong opposition among 60-plus people who attended the meeting including many Central Eastside business representatives.

All but a few of the about 30 people who commented spoke against it, including James Reed, a Northeast Portland resident who works for Beaumont Hardware.

"We shut them out of Hollywood and we will shut them out of here," Reed said, referring to opposition to Home Depot's attempt to build a store in the Hollywood neighborhood in Northeast Portland. The company in April 2001 decided not to build the store, citing construction costs and a slumping economy.

The commission hopes to decide whether to proceed with the project by fall. Parts of the project also would need to be approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. The next advisory committee meeting for discussion is June 14.

The multilevel development planned at the east end of the Burnside Bridge would be built on five blocks between Northeast Second Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Burnside and Northeast Everett Street. Lew Bowers, a senior development manager for the commission, said the idea is to "create a real catalytic project."

"There has not been a lot of private investment along this corridor," he said. "We're trying to create a project that will stimulate additional development."

The project is part of a larger vision to transform Burnside into a gateway to the city's east side. For Home Depot, the project presents another opportunity to locate in the city's urban center rather than on its outskirts and suburbs, where most of its stores sit.

Bowers said because the project is only a concept, no detailed study has been completed on how it would be financed.

"Like most projects, we would assume the majority of it would be financed through private debt, private equity," he said. "And if there is a gap in the financing and if there's a justifiable public purpose, then there may be some role for public involvement."

Home Depot officials declined comment Friday on the possible Portland project. In an effort to expand and differentiate itself from rival Lowe's, Atlanta-based Home Depot has, in recent years, sought to expand into more densely populated urban areas, despite obstacles such as increased congestion and higher real estate costs. The chain has opened stores in downtown Chicago and New York City, for example.

Kathryn Gallagher, a Home Depot spokeswoman, said, "Home improvement is booming across the board."

"There's good business" in densely populated areas.

The commission's proposal would be the centerpiece of a city development strategy adopted for the stretch of Burnside between the bridge and 12th Avenue.

The Eastbank at Burnside: Lower East Burnside Redevelopment Plan was designed to stimulate development in the lower Burnside corridor. The plan, done in the late 1990s, involved the development commission and 78 business and property owners.

The city has been working toward making Burnside a gateway to the east side by investing millions of urban renewal dollars in Burnside-related projects for property acquisition, streetscape changes and development assistance. The 20-year urban renewal district expires in August 2006, meaning the city cannot issue additional bonded indebtedness for public projects unless it extends the life of the district.

Bowers said the city has control of all property needed for the Burnside Beachhead development. He said the city has until early 2006 to exercise an option to buy three blocks between Second and Third avenues, and Burnside and Everett. He said the commission last week paid $1.2 million for three-quarters of the block bounded by Third and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Couch and Davis Streets. The city owns the block immediately south, he said.

Yet, anxiety has run high in the entral Eastside Industrial District since April, when business and property owners in the area learned the commission had been meeting with Central Eastside businesses about a development involving Home Depot or another big-box retail anchor.

Peter Stark, president of Central Eastside Industrial Council, said to those at the urban renewal committee meeting that the commission's proposal deserves consideration.

"I don't want to speak for PDC," he said, "but this is not a done deal."

Boaz Herzog of The Oregonian contributed to this story. Wade Nkrumah: (503) 294-7627;  wadenkrumah@news.oregonian.com

Burnside Beachhead Complex 22.May.2004 18:11


Architect renderings of the proposed behemoth.
This is supposed to stimulate growth in inner NE?
This is supposed to stimulate growth in inner NE?

heh 22.May.2004 18:18


For what it's worth, note that The Oregonian got the name of the project wrong, despite it being plastered all over the material that was available at Thursday's meeting. It's the Burnside BRIDGEHEAD REDEVELOPMENT Concept, not the Burnside BEACHHEAD DEVELOPMENT Concept.

Depot doesn't sell lumber for old houses 23.May.2004 22:31


I am restoring two houses in inner Southeast Portland. (1905 and 1924). I find that yes, you can get good 8 foot 2 x 4 studs there, but that's about it. They don't carry 1 x 8 fir boards I need for outside trim, or 5/4 fir to rebuild my old wooden windows.

A Home Depot would lead to more inner SE houses being "modernized" with vinyl windows and "colonial" doors, which would do more damage than good. I've seen countless houses defaced because the owners used whatever they found at Home Depot, thinking that's all there was available.

Mayor appoints PDC commissioners 23.May.2004 22:35


I believe that the mayor appoints the PDC commissioners, and the appointments are then confirmed by Council. Thus, whoever wins in November I believe has the option of appointing new members to the commission. I don't know to what extent the commission has actual control over the staff. Maziotti and the others seem pretty powerful folks. Does anyone have any more details?

pdc 23.May.2004 23:33



How is PDC governed?  In 1958, the citizens of Portland voted to create the Portland Development Commission (see the City Charter, Chapter 15). The Commission's day-to-day functions are carried out through its Executive Director, six departmental directors, managers and support staff. The Agency is a department of the City and its Executive Director reports to the Commission. 

The Commission, as a whole, is governed by a five-member board of Commissioners (often referred to as PDC's Board) who are all local citizens appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council. Following approval by the PDC Commission, urban renewal districts, bond sales, major projects and program changes are also reviewed and approved by City Council. PDC's Board of Commissioners is governed by these by-laws.

PDC's structure is unique nationally, offering a greater degree of coordination than other major cities where urban renewal, housing, economic development and redevelopment issues are dispersed among several agencies. 

PDC's reporting structure—to PDC's Board rather than directly to the Mayor or other City Commissioner—was created to allow the agency to implement programs and focus resources independently and not at the direction of any one city Commissioner.

Beachhead 24.May.2004 14:22

was a better name

since it's just the beginning of an invasion in mega retailing in core areas.

sorry about that 24.May.2004 16:05

Brian S

Sorry about that, just a misunderstanding on PDC endorsement.

(2) PDC did not endorse anybody. As an agency of the City, that's not something they can do.

NO 27.May.2004 12:24


Just dont... Please.