Shelby Sebens published a story at GoLocalPDX.com this morning, a report on some aspects of Majestic Realty’s behavior as a corporate developer interacting with local officials in other parts of the nation.
“Critics say the massive developer, who is behind a proposed NFL stadium in Los Angeles, has a history of quid pro quo deals that could spell trouble for Portland.”
Majestic’s last anchor tenant for the Vanport lot, Trader Joe’s, walked away from the proposed project earlier this year, citing community conflict. “We run neighborhood stores and our approach is simple: if a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe’s, we understand, and we won’t open the store in question,” Trader Joe’s said in a statement.
Majestic is behind a proposed stadium that could host an NFL team and could cost $800 million, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“California lawmakers in 2009 exempted Majestic’s project from environmental laws, according to the LA Times. Two months later Majestic contributed $300,000 to a ballot measure that would allow term-limited lawmakers to stay in office longer.”
Fred Stewart, past chair of the King Neighborhood Association, was interviewed for the Seben’s article:
“This thing is so powerful, it goes against the values of the city of Portland in an obscene way,” Fred Stewart, a black real estate agent who claims the project is not in the spirit of the urban renewal district. “I don’t think this is white against black.
“I think this is (that) politicians don’t give a damn as long as they’re getting greased.”
As was Nick Caleb, professor at Concordia U.:
“(Majestic) demonstrated that this is how they have played politics before,” Caleb said. “There is no reason to suspect that they would come into Portland and reform themselves and think campaign contributions are not going to let them receive a favor.”
A spokesperson for the Portland Development Commission, the arm of city government that oversees urban renewal areas such as the one that includes the Vanport lot, and owns the lot itself at present, noted: “We really do want to make it clear that transparency is paramount on this thing as it moves forward.”
Note: the sale to Majestic is not yet completed.