Dec 13, 2023 - Development

Year in reflection: Ritz-Carlton's impact on local businesses

A photo of a building against the Portland skyline.

Photo: Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Portland

The $600 million Ritz-Carlton opened its doors in downtown Portland this fall — to the cheers of some, and the chagrin of others.

Catch up fast: City officials, business leaders and developers have all voiced their hope that the ultra-luxe hotel's opening will lure not only tourists but Portlanders, too, back to the city's center.

  • Whether the Ritz can do all that remains to be seen in the greater context of the downtown's recovery story.
  • Its highly-anticipated food hall featuring local purveyors — Flock — still hasn't opened but hopes to "rebuild" on the legacy of the 60-plus food carts that were displaced by the hotel.

What's happening: We asked a small business owner across the street from the Ritz-Carlton how she views the development's impact on day-to-day foot traffic, sales and more.

  • Kristin Van Buskirk is the owner of Woonwinkel, a home decor and gift shop that opened on SW Washington Street in 2011.
  • This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
An interior photo of a gift shop with brightly colored walls.
This interior photo of Woonwinkel shows windows facing the Ritz-Carlton. Photo: Courtesy of Kristin Van Buskirk

🤔 When the Ritz-Carlton announced it would be opening in Portland, what were your initial thoughts?

  • "I was initially concerned about the impact of three-plus years of construction right across the street but then the pandemic hit and that concern felt relatively unimportant."

ğŸ›Žï¸ Since its opening in November, how has the Ritz-Carlton impacted your business?

  • "I didn't realize until it opened that it would have such a positive impact on my sense of safety and well-being."
  • "Looking out my shop window at night and seeing Ritz employees on the sidewalk, guests coming in and out, and seeing a lit-up lobby where there was once a black hole feels wonderful."

📈 Many hope the Ritz-Carlton will aid the Central City's recovery. As a small business in downtown, what do you make of that?

  • "To keep the momentum of this neighborhood's recovery, I want to see the out-of-town developers who own vacant buildings nearby do their part."
  • "The Ritz is part of a block that once had a thriving density of small, local businesses that were displaced by building renovations that have now stalled out."
  • "We hear it again and again from customers: they come to shop in Portland because of the thriving, creative small businesses, but lately we've been hearing those same people ask, 'Where did all those great little shops go?'"
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