“If you’re blue, and you don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where fashion sits? Puttin’ on the ritz”
Can you think of anything more incongruous than the Ritz and Stumptown?
Like a diamond in the rough, The Ritz-Carlton Residences Portland at 550 S.W. 10th Ave. are set to open for occupancy in July 2023.
Owners of the 138 residential condominiums on floors 21-35 atop The Ritz-Carlton, Portland will enjoy magnificent views as the $600 million building becomes a landmark in a dynamic Pacific Northwest city, the developers exult.
Keller Williams Realty Professionals is already marketing 39 of the individual condos at prices ranging from $1,1000,000 for a one bedroom 2 bath 1,105 sq. ft unit to $8,999,000 for a 3 bedroom 4 bathroom 3,256 sq. ft unit. Principal and interest on the mortgage, plus property taxes and condo fees, could translate to an $8000 a month expense for the 1 bedroom.
“We are seeing interest from folks that have made businesses in other cities that are spending more time in Portland,” he said, “and they want to be here. They like the lifestyle of Portland and the quality of life that we have here,” Brian Owendoff, owner’s representative for the tower, told KGW-TV in March.
Is he serious? Is “…the quality of life that we have here…” in Portland going to be a magnet for well-heeled luxury-seeking sophisticates?
In 1992, journalist and urban critic Philip Langdon marveled at how “this courteous, well-kept city of 453,000, and especially its downtown, has become a paragon of healthy urban development.” Nobody’s saying that now.
With Ineffectual government at all levels, property crime more than double the national average, motor vehicle thefts through the roof. (More than 11,000 vehicles were stolen in 2022, up from 6,500 in 2019; and it’s not just individuals being hit. International Auto Sales on Southeast 82nd Avenue in Portland has had twenty two vehicles stolen in just two years, costing near a quarter million in damages.), homeless encampments sprouting like weeds, used hypodermic needles littering the sidewalks and parks (In 2022, crews collected 176,962 used needles in the 213 block Downtown Enhanced Service area), open air drug markets, routine store break-ins, routine homeless camp fires (Portland Fire & Rescue responded to more than a thousand tent or tarp-related fires during 2021-2022), gun violence, homicides (2022 was a particularly bloody year for Portland, with homicides climbing from 36 in 2019 to 97 in 2022 – a record), bicycle thefts galore (More than 1,000 bikes are reported stolen in the city each year, according to Willamette Week), public urination and defecation, Portland is far from the magnet it once was.
Businesses in the Ritz-Carlton area are already up in arms over Multnomah County’s new Behavioral Health Resource Center on S.W. Park Ave. between Oak and Harvey Milk Streets. Willamette Week recently reported business owners are asking the county to do more to keep the neighborhood free from what some of the center’s clients are bringing, including threats of violence and drug use. Painting a bleak picture of the situation, the businesses are frustrated to no end and question how the Ritz-Carlton will be able to attract customers to its $518 a night and up hotel rooms.
Polls conducted in 2022 showed only 11% of voters thought Portland was heading in the right direction — a steep drop from 76% in 2000.
With highlights like a vegan strip club, a museum for vacuums and the world’s largest Naked Bike Ride, Portland is also far from a ritzy kind of place offering a comfortable milieu for high-end sophisticates.
There’s a reason why an outpost of the upscale Saks Fifth Avenue at Portland’s much-heralded Pioneer Place Mall abruptly closed in 2010 and was replaced by Off Fifth at Bridgeport Village in the suburbs, a discount venue that offers closeouts, clearance items and private-label goods. “Saks didn’t quite fit in with our fleece and flip-flops,” Kathleen Healey, senior associate broker with Urban Works, told The Oregonian.
That’s another way of saying Portland has a reputation for being kind of quirky, dismissive of pretense, leery of brazen displays of wealth. Drenched in wetness and lefty idealism, where people wait till the “Walk “ sign lights up even if no cars are coming, it is hardly a haven for moneyed showoffs or a welcoming place for a Ritz-Carlton.
Like with Saks Fifth Avenue, the prognosis isn’t promising.
There just aren’t enough of Slim Aaron’s beautiful people in Portland
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I’m down at that location frequently. I gather the property marketeers looked at the apparent success of boutique hotels like Moxy and Sentinel and Hyatt-centric nearby, operating in the teeth of Antifa Riots and Covid and Homelessness, and figured a Ritz will do just fine. And this was all penciled out long ago, right?
There aren’t enough public police to keep Portland safe for its middle class, or middle-class shop owners. But downtown, tourism will be protected? Tourists, and luxury apartment dwellers are being watched over? To what extent by private security? What arrangements are being made to ensure the safety of guests as they come and go? Is there a “public-private partnership”?
My sense is Portland was a different place where this project was greenlighted and the hotel/condos are going to struggle in the new troubled Portland.