Wine bar owner calls homeless camp the reason for closing his bu - KPTV - FOX 12

Wine bar owner calls homeless camp the reason for closing his business

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A northwest Portland wine bar is closing its doors, as the owner claimed problems with homeless population drove away business.

Michael Madigan, the owner of Remedy Wine Bar, said business dropped 50 percent last summer when a large homeless encampment popped up in the North Park Blocks.

While the camp is now gone, business hasn’t recovered.

Remedy sits at the corner of Northwest 9th Avenue and Everett Street, right across from the North Park Blocks.

Madigan said the first two years were great but that things got out of control after the camp was started. He and other members of the neighborhood association began documenting issues on the website NorthParkBlocks.org.

Madigan said he saw people using intravenous drugs and having sex in the park, and urinating in his doorway. He also noted that he spoke with city employees about the upcoming summer, but he isn’t confident the city will be make any changes.

With his lease on the space up, Madigan is closing the bar on January 30 and looking for a new location.

“I get that homeless is an issue here in Portland and I get that it’s going to take more to solve that than just moving people around,” he said. “But it was the crime and the drug use that followed that, and the people harassing our guests and our employees that really just hammered our business last summer.  Somebody’s got to have the will to fix it and it doesn’t appear to me that anybody does.”

In a statement a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said they’ve been working to make progress on the issue.

She said the high-impact camping in the north park blocks last summer is not permissible, and that the mayor, police and park rangers will continue to work with the neighborhood so events and activities can occupy the park blocks next summer.

The Mayor's Office has been working to balance the needs of Portland residents and businesses with the realities of those living on the street. We understand neighbors' and business owners' concerns, and have been working diligently to make progress on the issue. Under the State of Emergency in Housing and Homelessness, the City has taken remarkably quick action - the pace of government is typically quite slow - to provide shelter for those living on the street and allocate money to prevent further homelessness. Mayor Hales has been clear that some low-impact and/or organized camping will be permitted as long as we can't finish the sentence, "You can't sleep here, but you can go…"

A prime example of balancing needs happened today, with the cleanup of the camp that had developed outside of the Hazelnut Grove boundaries on North Greeley. The organized camp is working with the neighborhood and the city to camp responsibly. Once the Menashe shelter opened downtown, the people living outside of the organized camp were asked to leave, because they could go to the new downtown shelter.

During the summer, camping in the North Parks Blocks was an example of high-impact camping that is not permissible. Mayor Hales, police and park rangers worked with the neighborhood to clean up the area, and are continuing to work with the neighborhood to activate the space so events and activities occupy the park blocks this summer.

Meanwhile, the mayor has praised business owners that have stepped up to help solve the problem - the Menashe family, which donated building space for a temporary shelter; the hardware store owner who donated materials to the Hazelnut Grove camp; and many more examples of compassion as the City works to humanely address an issue the city has long grappled with.

We understand that the wine bar has chosen not to renew its lease. We wish them the best as they relocate.

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