I don't know if chefs "support" it so much as are willing to sign on for the publicity and networking opportunities. The whole thing is very self-serving. I don't blame chefs for doing it. They have an obligation to try to keep their restaurants in business. No one thinks that just because Rick Bayless did a Burger King commercial that he's a regular customer. Likewise, I'd be skeptical of how much chefs support such a project, especially as envisioned.
$27 million in revenue seems reasonable for the vendors to earn. If you do 90 vendors x $1000 x 300 days, that's about what you get. That's not what the building earns however. The building would earn, they say, about $5 million from those vendors, I assume in the form of rent. Although that would be really high rent as a percentage of income.
I don't know how much of the 17 story building they're thinking would be vendors.
I have a few problems with it:
1) It's highly subsidized, yet something that will be competing heavily with existing businesses and both the Portland Farmers Market and, I assume, the Saturday Market.
2) Like all public markets, it's really just aimed at tourists, but does little to expand the tourist zone. And again, while being heavily subsidized.
3) Given its location, lack of parking, etc, it really has no hope of being a market for locals, which may be its undoing in the end. Portland isn't Vancouver, Seattle, or San Francisco as a tourist destination and yet even the Granville and Pike Place markets have decent parking options, at least allowing locals to shop there without having to take the bus. Not sure I'd want to be a vendor the first year. I bet places end up having to close by 6pm every day 8 months of the year and half the week might be a total crap shoot. Prepared food vendors might do decently for lunch, but produce vendors may just be SOL most of the week. You might end up with a large portion of the vendors closed most of the week.
I still think a smarter idea is to develop it on the inner-east side, using some of the land owned by ODOT down by Clarklewis, etc, for example. That would extend the tourist zone to the east side and make it less of a competitor with the Portland Farmers Market. The neighborhood could also use some parking structures and this would be a good excuse to add them, both to the building itself and possibly nearby. They could do something more on the 5 to 10 floors range with office spaces above. This would also help build MLK/Grand and make the new streetcar line more useful. You also might be more likely to get off-season business since it would have easier access to the residential neighborhoods on the east side and downtown seems so off-putting to most Portland residents.
I'd be interested to know if they see it as more of an incubator or more of a Portland "best of". Very different approaches. I've been critical of the Portland Farmers Market for continuing to have places like Pine State or Cocina Verde with multiple popular brick and mortar restaurants. They wouldn't accept a restaurant with those to come in. They should sunset such places.
The Public Market, being an everyday thing, might have to embrace the "best of" model more than the PFM. But it could build a lot of resentment if it becomes a place where there's yet another Salt & Straw, Bunk, Pine State, Little Big Burger, Stumptown, et al. On the produce/meat/cheese/dairy side, though, they might have to do that just to maintain inventory, having places like Pastaworks or New Seasons be vendors. It's going to take some careful planning and a real effort not to just make it another place for popular places to become even more popular. It'll be easy to justify it, too, because they want the public market to be successful, which means they might want to coast on the success of vendors that are already successful.