So, we finally heard back from Mayor Sam Adams' office about how—or whether—Target bigwigs' anti-gay-rights political leanings might factor into plans to invite the big-box retailer downtown. (The Minnesota-based company, it should be said, has earned a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.)
Adams, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, was traveling from Canada to join his fellow mayors in Washington D.C. and wasn't available to chat. But his office did provide us with this (delicately crafted) statement on his behalf:
"We welcome the conversation with Target about their potential presence in downtown Portland. As with any company seeking to be a part of the Portland community, we expect a commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion that Portlanders fundamentally support. We will be discussing this issue as part of our ongoing negotiations with the company."
After the jump, why Target and why not Wal-Mart?
Adams' spokesman, Roy Kaufmann, acknowledged that the mayor has staunchly opposed some of Wal-Mart's previous Portland expansion plans, even as the retailer continues to look at a new store in Jantzen Beach or expanding a current store out on 82nd Avenue. In conversations with Wal-Mart brass, Kaufmann says, the mayor's office continues to press for better environmental practices and improved treatment of workers, especially on providing health care.
Kaufmann said Target's labor and sustainability record raises fewer concerns, which is one reason why these discussions, still "early," have been welcome. But the bigger reason, he says, is location.
Target, which first approached the city, is eyeballing downtown, specifically large anchor space that's currently vacant. And that's a far different calculus than if the retailer wanted to plop down in Southeast or Southwest, where there are already lots of grocers who might be crushed by the competition.
The lens is this, he says:
"How would that store contribute to and complement existing retail in the central city district and how would it meet the city's objectives in creating greater residential density in the city?"
Maybe you've heard there are some vacant condos downtown? Target might be one way to help fill them.