In an unprecedented neighborhood assault, influential Parkrose players have put an end to the young and troubled life of lingerie shop Tush Lingerie Modeling, previously located at 4826 N.E. 105th Ave.
Seemingly doomed from the get-go, Tush was a consistent source of controversy in the local media: a topic not made any easier when considering its founder.
Tush was opened Aug. 1 by Christian Desmarais, a successor to a tendentious local family responsible for a “strip-club empire,” according to Willamette Week. Willamette Week reported that Christian’s mother, Kandace, was sentenced this June to two years in prison for her role in operating ATMs to promote prostitution.
Tush barely lasted a week before it closed for repairs and negotiations on August 7. But Kandace’s track record was not what directly invoked Parkrose’s open rebellion.
“I think residents and business owners were offended that the people starting that business really thought that opening this next to an all-ages dance studio, on a safe school route near the elementary school in the middle of the Historic Parkrose revitalization focus area, was going to fly,” says Samantha Montanaro, chair of Historic Parkrose.
In the week following its grand opening, Portland resident and Historic Parkrose’s summer intern Rachel Seagren created a Change.org petition seeking 500 signatures in support of shutting the business down. The Change.org page, still short of 500 signatures, cited the shop’s geography as having sat along an official “‘Safe Routes to Schools’ route.”
The petition suggests that Parkrose children should not be exposed to Tush’s suggestive, blinking white lights and that the neighborhood should promote itself as “family friendly.”
“That place opened up in the neighborhood with no warning at all, and people were shocked,” explains Mingus Mapps, the district manager for Historic Parkrose. “The people who run it have a rough history. It’s in a really inappropriate location. Folks in the neighborhood got quite agitated and reached out to the property owner and property management. The owner and the management company realized people were quite pissed off. It became a discussion of what can we do about this.”
Historic Parkrose was not alone in its dissent as other neighborhood heavyweights chimed in.
“The Parkrose Neighborhood Association mainly provided a supportive role for Historic Parkrose in keeping lines of communication open on social media and providing access to the petition that Historic Parkrose created,” says Annette Stanhope, chairwoman of the Parkrose Neighborhood Association (PNA), speaking on behalf of the PNA’s role in the quarrel.
Despite its quick demise, closing Tush was no walk in the park. Legal restraints were quickly realized; a lease had been signed, and the property management company responsible for the building, Windermere Community Realty, couldn’t kick Tush out without a proper rationale. However, it was Windermere’s responsibility to ensure that Tush was up to code—and the neighborhood had a few ideas for items to inspect.
“There was a crowdsourced inspection of Tush where people who were familiar with codes kept a running list of problems with the building. For example, the sign wasn’t up to code, and it was clear that they (Tush) were doing significant construction inside the building without a proper permit,” adds Mapps.
Parties of interest from around the neighborhood reported these issues to the property owner, management company, and even the city. Everybody lawyered up. Tush closed temporarily while repairs and negotiations lingered.
“In some ways, the repairs were unfixable, like not having a permit up to code,” says Mapps. “My instinct is that the Tush people recognized they had a big problem with the neighborhood. To stay in the building, they would need to fix all these permit problems and employ a lawyer, which is probably $350 an hour. At some point, they got deeper and deeper into the mud, and it didn’t pencil out for them anymore.”
Mapps claims the property owner was not sympathetic, and this lack of sympathy echoed throughout the community.
“I am very glad it has closed forever. It detracts from what we are trying to do in our beautiful Parkrose community. We all worked together on this community matter, and we won. We are a Parkrose team, and I am proud to be a member of such a great group of people,” says Karen Gray, the superintendent of the Parkrose School District.
Whether Tush’s demise is an example of collaborative community success or a large-scale attack on an independent business remains subjective. Nick Drum, Windermere Community Realty’s lawyer, did not comment on the subject when approached by the Mid-county Memo.
As for the future, Montanaro hopes something less tumultuous will find itself occupying Tush’s street address.
“What was really cool about the way the community handled this was that it was truly a collaborative community effort to stand up not necessarily against sex work, but more so against the poor choice of location for this business. Businesses and residents made their voices heard!” says Montanaro. “We are hoping to bring a coffee shop or restaurant into that location—a much better fit!” n