Hawthorne Boulevard might be losing some of the gems that make it one of the most recognizable streets in town: Several stores on the boulevard are facing rent increases of over 50 percent, a leap to what some call "Pearl District prices."
The quirky street has long defined the aesthetic of the Eastside—funky locally owned businesses with grungy hipsters cycling past, crowned by the un-replicable Bagdad Theater. But down the street from the Bagdad, Frank Nudo—owner of Nick's Famous Coney Island—has sold his building, boasting in the Oregonian about the millions he made on the deal.
But his building also houses Jackpot Records, Naked City Clothing, and Bishops Barbershop—and some of these tenants aren't exactly smiling at Nudo's good fortune. They're grimacing at the huge rent increase they're facing from the new owners.
According to the letter of intent sent by the new landlords, the rent for Naked City is increasing by at least 50 percent, and owner Julian Mohaupt-Mayers is unsure of whether her store will remain in its current location.
"Big changes are coming on the boulevard," she said. Naked City has been on Hawthorne for nine years.
Isaac Slusarenko, owner of Jackpot Records, is still in shock. He hadn't received any prior notice that the building was up for sale. Slusarenko is unsure of the future of his Hawthorne store, but he remains optimistic, he said in an email.
The Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association (HBBA) is concerned with the effect rising rent rates have on small businesses.
"When rent gets increased to market levels, it's a real obstacle for small business owners to adjust to quickly," said Karin Edwards, HBBA president. Unfortunately, according to Edwards, there's not much the community can do.
The new landlords are supposed to be taking over Nudo's building in March, and have not yet offered the tenants official leases. However, according to Multnomah County records, there's a problem: Nudo hasn't paid taxes for the last four years and the building has gone into the redemption program, the first step of foreclosure. Until Nudo pays those taxes, the building cannot change owners. Nudo refused to comment about the sale or closure of Nick's. (And since the sale hasn't been recorded yet, the Mercury was unable to identify or reach the new owners by press time.)