On Tuesday morning, Charlie Hales announced plans to build an ecologically-conscious-themed “Green & Local” shopping megacomplex in the heart of downtown Portland. The megacomplex, to be built by HDR, will replace nearly 40 square blocks of inner NW Portland, just north of Burnside. [See related: PolitiFact: Is it true that Charlie Hales in the private sector never billed a single hour to the city of Portland?]
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The ten-story megacomplex will include four stories of vehicle parking. On the first level of the parking garage, you’ll be able to find your choice of premium gas vendors to fuel up your car for the trip home. Charging stations for electronic vehicles will be added at a later date, to be determined. Due to restrictions imposed by insurance requirements and regulatory oversight, bicycles will not be permitted to park on the premises.
“Portlanders believe in values like sustainability and supporting local community,” Hales elaborated at the morning press conference. “Portlanders also believe that our environment is precious. We have the opportunity here to create jobs, while giving Portlanders an opportunity to buy products themed after the things they really love.” [See related: The Road to Hales]
The complex already boasts an impressive array of retail lessees: a six-story Wal-Organic grocery store will be the complex’s flagship offering.
Target is also taking its own foray into the “local” niche with their own retail space in the Green & Local. “Local is very important to us,” said Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel. “We search the country for the very best local merchandise. Then we acquire the intellectual property for this merchandise, and mass-produce it, using our unique distribution capabilities to make these local items available to all of our customers nationwide. You get authentic local quality, with our trusted label on the box — and at savings that you can’t believe!” As an added bonus, Steinhafel continues, “After shopping at our store, you can drive a few blocks on over to our nearby regular Target, in SW Portland, to get everything you couldn’t find here.”
It takes more than just a big name to play with the big boys of eco-consciousness, though. In order to qualify for a lease, applicants must agree to a strict set of rules. For example: any plastic packaging sold in the complex must be made from at least 10% recycled material. “We can’t maintain the same rate of consumption of resources, and survive as a species,” says Green & Local superintendent A.J. Martin. “And the way you impact that is with your purchasing choices.”
Not all Portlanders are thrilled with the idea of saving human life on the planet. Advocates for the homeless are upset that the city is using eminent domain to acquire property that currently houses the Right 2 Dream Too shelter. The Lan Su Chinese Garden is another casualty of the land grab.
For those not directly impacted by the eminent domain ruling, however, this megacomplex will be a welcome addition. “I hear they’re going to have a store where I can buy my own bonsai trees,” comments Mary J. Rizzo, a local consumer. “The Chinese Garden never had that.”
“After I’m done making my informed guilt-free purchases, I can go and get a double-decker quinoa special wrapped in a Dorito shell at the food court,” muses Rhonda Batanides, Rizzo’s shopping companion. “The wrapper is compostable, and so is the cup for my real-sugar Coca Cola. I just love saving the environment.”