The downtown and Gateway closures are among 16 company locations being shut down nationwide.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Safety concerns prompt Starbuck to close two Portland shops.Starbucks has announced it is closing 16 stores across the United States and two of them are in Portland.

The cafe chain said it will close its shops at Southeast 4th Avenue and Southeast Morrison and in the Gateway shopping area after July 31.

A Starbucks spokesperson told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday, July 12 that the company is closing these locations due to safety concerns and that the closures have nothing to do with the recent Starbucks unions forming. The company said it informed the unionized stores and gave employees the opportunity to transfer.

Starbucks said it's been dealing with issues related to chronic homelessness, addiction and social unrest, plus other factors at these 16 U.S. locations.

"We want you to know that creating a safe, welcoming, and kind third place is our top priority," Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, senior vice presidents of U.S. operations, wrote in a letter to their employees Monday.

The letter goes on to state several steps Starbucks is doing to help ensure the safety of its employees. Some of these steps include things like offering safety training for all employees, making clear policies and procedures, designing safe and welcoming stores, and closing a restroom or even closing a store permanently if safety is no longer possible.

"We hear the challenges facing you in stores, and we all have a lot more to still figure out — but we know we'll get there because YOU have shown us, time and again, that our stores can be a place of hope, optimism and community for all," the letter stated.

Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz also announced to the company Monday that it is entering a reinvention stage. He aims to reconnect with customers and renew the wellbeing of employees.

He said specific programs and initiatives will be revealed in the weeks ahead.

After the two closures in Portland, the city will still have 80 stores.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.

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