Saturday, December 29, 2012

An extreme change in display

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What could this be, this black behemoth next to a Benson Bubbler on the southwest corner of Pioneer Courthouse Square? At first glance, it looked like some sort of cover over a structure standing on the sidewalk. I took this photo on December 5, 2012, as I continued towards the spot at Pioneer Courthouse Square where I wanted to stand for my attempt to get a good photo of Portland’s Christmas tree .


Front view. To get the lowdown on these structures, read the article from The Oregonian, which comes after the next photo.


Here's a shot of that same corner, taken on July 5, 2009. You can see the numerous publication boxes--I count five--if you're not too distracted by the golden retriever taking a drink from the Benson Bubbler. Remember, they're cleaned routinely. I say kudos to that woman who has been on a run with her dog on its leash--they both got a drink, I remember seeing her bent over at one of the other bowls. And it can be warm in Portland in July.

But I digress from the original point of this post--the extreme change in newspaper display at this corner.

Donna and Todd, I'm curious what you think of these. What's the latest about that attempt to use similar-shaped boxes in Jackson? As I remember it, there was an entirely different back story than what you can read below.

Here's the Oregonian article for you:

News racks at Pioneer Courthouse Square get clean, new look in pilot program

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012, Special to The Oregonian

A pilot program to tidy up publication boxes on downtown Portland sidewalks is headed to Pioneer Courthouse Square.

The Portland City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously for an ordinance approving the pilot program, part of the Public Sidewalk Management Plan the council approved in 2009.

The purpose of the yearlong program, which begins in September, is to test the use of news racks with multiple compartments in place of numerous, freestanding publication boxes. The goal is to improve sidewalk access, safety and aesthetics.

The four test racks will be set up at the corners of: Southwest Broadway and Morrison Street, Broadway and Yamhill Street, Yamhill and Sixth Avenue, and Sixth and Morrison.

The Clean & Safe District, a 213-block business improvement district, will maintain the racks, wiping the structures down daily, removing graffiti, gathering feedback and keeping an eye out for potential issues, said Mirabai Vogt, external relations representative for the Portland Business Alliance.

The alliance, which manages the Clean & Safe District, will bear the cost of the new boxes, according to city documents. Portland Bureau of Transportation will reimburse the alliance for as much as $20,600.

All of the test racks will carry The Oregonian, Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, The Portland Tribune and USA Today. Other publications in each test rack will vary by location.

All publications in Pioneer Courthouse Square were invited to participate, and no publications have objected to the Portland Business Alliance, said Bernie Bottomly, alliance vice president of government relations and economic development.

The pilot program will clean up and unify the publication boxes, said Kevin Denny, vice president of circulation for The Oregonian.

“I think it’s to our benefit, and to every publication’s benefit,” Denny said. “I am certain we won’t lose any sales. In fact, we might pick up some additional sales.”

The change also will make a difference to retailers at Pioneer Courthouse Square, said Randy Harris, president of Shreve & Co. (Portland). Harris said aesthetics are important to the high-end jewelry store at Southwest Broadway and Morrison Street.

“It makes a big difference in people’s first impression when they look at you,” Harris said.

The storefront currently is flanked by two groups of publication boxes, made of plastic and metal and displayed in a variety of colors. Long cords with padlocks secure some of the publication boxes in place. Neglected boxes may get stuffed with trash or tarnished with graffiti.

When an area looks better, more people tend to flock to it, and that’s good for businesses, said Emily Flint, vice president store manager of Macy’s Downtown Portland.

“The whole downtown retail strategy is: How do we drive more business to the downtown core?” said Flint, also chairwoman of the Downtown Retail Council.

Mayor Sam Adams’ transportation policy adviser, Katja Dillmann, this week said the project, which Adams has long supported, regulates the boxes placement. Dillmann said the boxes occupy random swaths of sidewalk, making it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians and for pedestrians to navigate the sidewalk.

And the boxes, some of which stand empty for days, have other drawbacks.

“From time to time, police are aware of paper boxes being used to hide things such as weapons and/or narcotics, although we could never know the true scope of the problem,” said Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The new metal racks in the pilot program also will be somewhat crime-resistant with an anti-graffiti coating, making them easier to clean.

Cities such as San Francisco and Seattle have had great success with similar multi-publication news rack systems, Vogt said. After it is tested a year, the pilot program could be extended another six months if data on circulation and maintenance are inconclusive, Vogt said. If deemed a success, the racks could be placed throughout the central city.

“There are a series of issues that would come up at that point about how to expand the program and how would you pay for it and so forth, Bottomly said at a recent council meeting. “But initially we’re just testing to see whether this idea of congregate boxes works for everybody.”

-- Jillian Daley


Birdman said...

Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. The faded multicolored boxes aren't eye-friendly around here either.

Randy said...

We have too many different colored boxes too. I would like something like this but not as big. Love the dog shot.

Lowell said...

I much prefer the new ones. In some areas we have a proliferation of gaudy, multi-colored boxes into which is jammed all kinds of junk literature...this is much neater.

Anonymous said...

I much prefer the newer boxes I know in other larger cities they've done this, though I'm not sure of the success or acceptance of them. I however do not really like how large they are! Somewhere I saw similar boxes but they were on the ground and about 2 compartments high, those looked good!

Bob Crowe said...

How many newspapers you got? We have one in print and a very small one online. The Post-Dispatch is an embarrassment but my wife still reads it all every day.

Al said...

That does make for a better look. I must say, as much as I love my dog, I'm not keen on having them drink from water fountains, but it does make a fun shot. Have a great New Year!