Portland reporter drinks in P&L District

Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser tells the Portland Oregonian that the Power & Light District is never going to make any money.

With the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers huddling with Cordish Co. on a plan to revitalize the Rose Quarter, the Oregonian dispatched reporter Ted Sickinger to Kansas City to experience the downtown entertainment district. Sickinger concludes the “carefully programmed sensory barrage” seems to be working — he interviews a 22-year-old Topeka resident who calls P&L “the spot to be on a Friday or Saturday night.” Sickinger also notes the empty tables at some of the upscale restaurants.

The city issued $295 million in bonds to assist with the development, and it’s Funkhouser’s impression that Power & Light’s popularity is no match for the debt service. “I can’t imagine how it could make money,” he tells Sickinger.

Sickinger came away with an accurate portrait. He quotes developer Jon Copaken, who says, “The Power & Light District has fundamentally changed our downtown for the better.” At the same time, the story acknowledges the controversial dress code and crooks an eyebrow at Blake Cordish’s assertion that his company’s developments are tailored to fit the local culture — a tough statement to make when the district’s barbecue smoker belongs to a Minnesota-based chain.

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