For years, mega-retailer Home Depot has been angling to get a central location in the city. Apparently, PDC was prepared to just hand over the large vacant tract once occupied by Baloney Joe's, a former homeless shelter. But that was until the Central Eastside Industrial Committee demanded and won its request for an open bidding process for ideas--a process that begins this week.
However, some business leaders believe PDC has already made up its mind to let Home Depot have its way with the Bridgehead--a decision, they say, based solely on the business taxes that will be generated and not what's best for the community.
Despite PDC's assurances that a Home Depot would have little effect on local merchants, business could be crippled at hardware stores like Hippo Hardware and W.C. Winks Hardware, which relocated to the area just a couple of years ago at considerable expense. Hippo Hardware co-owner Steven Miller says that even though his company has a certain niche in the marketplace, a nearby Home Depot could drastically gouge sales.
One suggested alternative to Home Depot is a small business incubator for local businesses, which would prevent the area's economic future from being dependent on one company. Plus, the money generated by such a project would stay in Portland, while much of Home Depot's revenue funnels back to company headquarters in Atlanta.
Between mid-August and November, PDC will collect proposed land use plans. At that time, the PDC evaluation committee will make a recommendation to the executive director, who has the ultimate deciding power over what will occupy the Bridgehead space.