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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nike Passes on South Waterfront, Will Stay in Washington County

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 4:14 PM

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Portland's great white hope for caffeinating its listless South Waterfront district—a shiny new Nike campus, with lofty promises of some 6,000 new jobs—has evaporated.

Nike announced this afternoon that it will expand in Washington County, where it already lives, on land it already owns. By spurning Portland, which would have offered a 29-acre site for the company to sprawl into, Nike is passing up what the Oregonian reported were tens of millions of dollars in city and county tax incentives and abatements.

Mayor Charlie Hales' office issued a release that does its best to put a good face on the company's decision—coming after months of civic pursuit, threats by Nike to leave the state, and a crash special legislative session last year that, in turn, handed the company a tax deal meant to quell those threats.

“The city, the Portland Development Commission, and Multnomah County presented Nike and its representatives with a comprehensive and compelling proposal,” Hales said in the statement. “I’m proud of the effort our team put together. And I’m thrilled that the project, and the jobs, are staying in the metropolitan area.” Later, Hales said, “This expansion will have a huge impact on the regional economy.”

The statement said the negotiations with Nike started last summer after Nike approached Portland about a potential move. The company was interested in a swath of land owned by the Zidell family. The city put that land in a state enterprise zone, back in December, a clue that Nike was likely considering the property.

PDC Director Patrick Quinton echoed the mayor in the prepared remarks, talking up regional "efforts to present greater Portland as the global hub for the athletic and outdoor industry."

Hales also promised to find another taker for the Zidell land, still seen as a linchpin for giving South Waterfront the critical mass of humans it sorely lacks right now.

“The site offers a unique opportunity for Portland to create an urban corporate campus,” Hales said. “It’s a 30-plus-acre site, on the riverfront, connected to a public transportation system and – hey, it’s got a view of Mount Hood! If there’s a better urban site for redevelopment in America: Show me.”

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