Whites Not Allowed? No Problem.
Posted on: 02/08/2014 09:55 PM

Black residents reject Trader Joe’s because it would attract too many white people

The Portland Development Commission's decision last month to sell a prominent piece of land in a historically African-American neighborhood at a $2.4 million discount to make way for a Trader Joe's grocery story is not sitting well with some local leaders.

The Portland African American Leadership Forum sent a blistering email to PDC leaders and Mayor Charlie Hales Wednesday demanding the urban renewal agency suspend the Trader Joe's development and all tax-increment-financed projects in the Interstate Corridor urban renewal area.

The lot is currently vacant and has been for years.

Whites Not Allowed? No Problem.

PAALF, established in 2009, is a group of African American leaders united around an agenda of equity in education, economic development, housing and health issues.

The Trader Joe's development will increase displacement of low-income residents and "increase the desirability of the neighborhood," for "non-oppressed populations," PAALF wrote.

"Given the long-standing list of promises made, and yet unfulfilled by the PDC to prevent community displacement, PAALF is and will remain opposed to any development in N/NE Portland that does not primarily benefit the Black community." The group also denounced the development's lack of an affordable housing component

Trader Joe's, the Monrovia-Calif.-based retailer, is the anchor of a two-building development, which includes space for 4-10 retail shops and 100 parking spaces on nearly 2 acres at Northeast Alberta Street and Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
PDC's board authorized selling the land, valued at $2.9 million last December, to Majestic Realty for just $502,160 last month. PAALF said the subsidized deal benefits "one of the richest families in the country." Edward Roski Jr., the company's president and chairman of the board, is worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.

PAALF's letter called into question the process behind approving Majestic Realty's Trader Joe's project and called the decision "fraught with injustice."

As recently as October, Hales and PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton expressed support and a commitment to issues of equity and a desire to combat gentrification, PAALF's letter said. "This decision is the opposite and reflects the city's overall track record of implementing policies that serve to uproot, displace and disempower our most vulnerable community members."

Welcoming Trader Joe's on that site continues "the well-documented and ongoing attempt to profit from development in inner N/NE Portland at the expense of Black and low-income individuals," the letter reads.

PDC officials confirmed they received the letter. Officials in Hales' office were working to confirm the letter as well.

PAALF is requesting a response by Jan. 14. They're also asking for suspension of development on the Trader Joe's project until "a sufficient amount of affordable housing" is included, and an independent community-controlled group can negotiate a "community benefits agreement."

Source w/ links, letter....

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