To Heir is Human

As five Portland power families pass the torch, can the next generation step up?

By Randy Gragg and Zach Dundas March 16, 2012 Published in the January 2012 issue of Portland Monthly

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Arlene Schnitzer

Image: Amy Martin


HAROLD & ARLENE The late patriarch started out polishing metal in his dad’s scrapyard—then, with wife Arlene, built a vast real estate empire and a philanthropic legacy that reshaped the city. Harold died last April.
JORDAN With gifts for downtown’s Director Park and a University of Oregon museum, among others, the only son is generous. But at age 60, he has yet to find the focus to match the fortune.


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Phil Knight

PHIL The cofounder of Nike transformed American sports, global trade, pop design, and Oregon’s economic base. And the 73-year-old Portland native, now cutting big checks to make his beloved University of Oregon an athletic titan, hasn’t even really retired.
TRAVIS Phil bankrolled and set his now-38-year-old son atop budding Portland animation powerhouse Laika. The studio has employed superb craftspeople, been roiled by layoffs and departures, and produced a critical and commercial smash in Coraline. Laika’s second film, due this year, will signal the scion’s staying power.


DOUG He began parking cars as a Grant High student; he went on to become downtown’s largest property owner, with a near-monopoly on the city’s parking business—a boffo cash crop fellow bigwig Bob Scanlan once likened to selling drugs.
GREG AND MARK With Greg leading and Mark heading up operations, look for the brothers Goodman to turn more surface lots into buildings, like ODS and 12 West, and scoop up east-side properties (most recently at SE 20th and Clinton). Once a civic arm-twister in downtown, Greg now says his focus is shifting to education.


MELVIN (“PETE”) After his New York real-estate baron father bought three historic Portland buildings in 1949, Pete Mark built an empire of office towers, garages, and suburban office parks, while championing (and often writing huge checks for) civic causes like Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Portland Art Museum.
JIM Along with brother-in-law Scott Andrews (see page 56), Pete’s son is giving the business a modern makeover. In 2010, the family firm effectively created its own bank, the Melvin Mark Capital Group, and in 2011 launched a Washington County outpost of the Indus Entrepreneurs, the Silicon Valley technology start-up mentor—all while continuing civic service.


TOM A colorful ex-boxer assembled a formidable downtown property portfolio and built two office towers. Now 92 and suffering advanced Alzheimer’s, he’s faded from public involvement.
VANESSA STURGEON Tom anointed his 33-year-old granddaughter, but much of his large, unruly clan is suing to unseat her. An icon of the uncertainty—both for the Moyer clan and the larger generational transition of the city’s wealth—can be found at the somber hole in the ground of the tenantless, barely started Park Avenue West.

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