SOREL may leave downtown due to safety concerns

Employees have been victims of thefts and threats since the company moved

A SOREL sportswear display at the Columbia store in downtown Portland. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Only a year after relocating its headquarters to downtown Portland, one of the most recognizable brands in Portland is considering moving out because its employees feel unsafe.

SOREL moved its headquarters from Washington County to SW Broadway and SW Taylor Street earlier this year, but according to a column by parent company Columbia Sportswear’s President and CEO Tim Boyle, that may have been a mistake.

Read Boyle’s full column on Oregonlive

In his guest column, Boyle said employees have been, “hassled, harassed and threatened” by people outside SOREL’s offices and many have been victims of car break-ins, including a new transplant from Europe, whose travel papers and laptop were stolen.

“Given these experiences, it is a relief when the only thing we are dealing with is the garbage and human waste by our front door. Think about that for a minute,” he wrote.

The Portland Business Alliance said this is not an usual complaint from people who find themselves downtown.

Portland Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler announced Columbia Sportswear will move their SOREL headquarters to Portland, November 1, 2016 (KOIN)
Portland Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler announced Columbia Sportswear will move their SOREL headquarters to Portland, November 1, 2016 (KOIN)

“Mr. Boyle raises concerns we hear every day from workers, visitors and residents in our downtown and our neighborhoods. We continue to work with our elected leaders toward a solution to this difficult issue, starting with creating more safe indoor places for the people currently sleeping in our streets and public spaces, and accompanying that with enforcement of rules designed to keep Portland safe and welcoming for everyone, Sandra McDonough, President and CEO of Portland Business Alliance, said in a statement to KOIN 6 News.

Boyle said they have already hired extra security and new security doors, but those measures aren’t enough. Now, he is considering moving SOREL out of downtown Portland and calling on city leaders to make public safety a bigger priority.

“As Portlanders we have a lot of priorities, but if we cannot keep downtown safe what will become of our city?” he wrote.

KOIN 6 News reached out to Mayor Ted Wheeler who said,

I have a good relationship with Tim Boyle. He and I have spoken often, and he feels very strongly that we can improve cleanliness and safety downtown. I agree with him. We’ve already taken positive steps in that direction, increasing trash cleanup, enforcing right-of-way laws, more walking beats. And we’re doing more, giving PPB the ability to recruit and retain more officers. Portland is a great place to do business and I look forward to meeting with Columbia and Sorel again soon to discuss how we can work together to make it even better.”