Month: August 2020

Expanded Corners Come to 76th

The first Expanded corner of the Busy Streets program came to the corner of SE 76th Ave and SE Washington Street. Composed of paint and white plastic delineators, it extends the corner space out beyond the curb.

Strictly speaking, this corner is on the other side of the street from Montavilla. SE 76th Ave is the west edge of Montavilla between SE Division and E Burnside. It would technically be in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood.

SE Stark Street will also receive corner enhancements at 76th and 80th. Montavilla’s portion of SE Washington Street will get their expanded corners at 80th and 92nd Ave.

The yellow paint chosen is less bright than other street markings seen throughout Portland. Although new, it looks faded. However, it is only a temporary measure to allow distancing at the curb. Ideally, it will become a full extended curb if made permanent as part of the Jade and Montavilla Multimodal Improvements Project.

UPDATE – The crossing of 76th Ave and SE Stark Street in now complete.

Boarded up for Security

Perhaps a troubling sign of heightened crime, Green Front Dispensary has boarded up their windows. Over the last few weeks, individually covered windows indicated damage to the storefront. Now the whole store is covered in painted plywood, ahead of rolling shutter installation.

A popular cannabis retail location, Green Front Dispensary, is located at 6834 NE Glisan Street. They appear to have reacted to repeated window damage through fortification. Although calls and emails have gone unanswered, the exterior modifications indicate a chosen path to address the vandalism.

The artistically painted wood coverings are similar to what other closed businesses have had to resort to during the pandemic. However, Green Front Dispensary is open while boarded up. The housing and track of exterior rolling shutters are visible on the edges of the window frames. These devices are standard security measures for retail locations needing protection.

Likely the wood covering will come down soon, and the exterior rolling shutters will protect the windows at night. It is unfortunate that any business would need to resort to this level of protection, but it may become common for neighborhood businesses if vandalism becomes more brazen.

Exterior Rolling Shutters

Stark Street Corner Shopfront for Lease

The corner storefront located at 8037 SE Stark Street is now available for lease. Formerly occupied by Wix Insurance Agency, it was made vacant when they moved into their own building at 7300 NE Glisan Street.

Two spaces are vacant in the building. In addition to the Wix space, 8029 SE Stark Street is also available. It had been the home to the renowned Tanuki that closed in late 2018.

The Stark Street properties are listed through M Maltase Real Estate. Contact Michelle Maltase at (503) 730-2596 if interested.

Commissioner Fritz Condemns RIP

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz was the lone dissenter in this week’s adoption of the Residential Infill Project (RIP). Underdeveloped infrastructure and its impact on the environment was a component of Fritz’s objection. The RIP Ordinance and amendments will not address unimproved, under-improved roadways, and sidewalks.

Commissioner Fritz expressed many doubts regarding the effects of these new zoning code changes. In the August 12th City Council meeting, Fritz outlines how she believes it will hasten gentrification and do little to improve homeownership among people of color. The Commissioner expressed concern that this would benefit developers and landlords while making Portland less affordable.

Commissioner Fritz unified her objections under an environmental concern, stating that underdeveloped pedestrian infrastructure and lack of public transportation mandates car usage. Destiny construction without considering its location near resources is counterproductive to our environmental goals, explained Fritz. “Putting new homes where they never will have transit, never have sidewalks, never be close to jobs, and services will mean that we won’t be able to meet the climate emergency goals we all voted for a few weeks ago… New residents will have to drive to groceries, jobs, schools, and services.”

Beyond the indiscriminate nature of RIP’s zoning code changes, it does not provide sufficient infrastructure enhancements. Instead, developers can pay into the same system used for single-family and duplex homes. The Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge (LTIC) is an option for builders who do not want to improve their portion of the roadway. Before the recent changes, building a triplex or more dense building, required the developer to build sidewalks and roadways to the current city standards. With the changes to LTIC, they can pay into a general road and sidewalk fund that the city uses throughout Portland.

The LTIC change was a conservative solution and a minor adjustment to support RIP. “In terms of the RIP and the LTIC, the changes are just housekeeping to bring the LTIC code in compliance with the changes the RIP has made to Title 33. LTIC currently only applies to single-family and duplexes. RIP applies to tri and quadplexes. These changes will bring LTIC in alignment with RIP,” said John Brady, Communications Director at Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Without expanding LTIC, city officials worried there would be a patchwork of street improvements. Sidewalks only 25 to 100 feet long are evident on some older streets, LTIC was a way to prevent that from continuing. LTIC corrects the intermittent upgrades by pooling funds until the whole road can be updated all at once. It lessens the development cost, which encourages more housing development. However, it is nowhere close to being enough funding to fix all of our streets and provide sidewalks.

Additionally, those funds improve roads wherever the city feels it is needed most. There is little chance LTIC funds will improve the infrastructure near where funds were collected. Commissioner Fritz highlighted that point in her comments when voting against the ordinance adoption.

“In allowing the development of tri and four-plexus on gravel and curb-less streets, we have offered a dubious solution in the local transportation improvement charge that will not guarantee that sidewalks will be built wherever new development occurs. In fact, it will ensure people living in the new homes will never have paved streets or sidewalks in their lifetime.”

Fritz believes the new Zoning introduced by RIP will damage the environment through increased use of single owner vehicles. Due to its lacking support for sidewalks and roads that facilitate biking or bus transit. It also encourages small affordable homes on under-improved streets to be demolished, making room for high-density developments. That could make low-cost homeownership less attainable.

Others on the Portland City Council did not share Fritz’s concern for RIP. They believe that adding housing inventory, with incentives for low-income options, will outweigh the adverse effects of this ordinance. All involved in the deliberations seem to agree that under-improved and unimproved roadways are a problem that RIP does not address. For Commissioner Fritz, it was one significant reason not to support the program.

With RIP now passed, Portland streets will need news solutions to address their deficiencies. LTIC is not up to the job, but it does not need to be the only solution. There are many other funding options in our system to help. However, more will be required if we are serious about improving Portland’s infrastructure. Walking and biking need to happen on modern roads with continuous sidewalks. With increased public support, Portland City Council can adopt other programs to address streets and sidewalks. RIP turned out not to be the place to do that work, but its passing means we now have a greater need to replace our outdated roadways.

Busy Streets Program Walkability Improvements

The new Busy Streets program has already made Montavilla more walkable and will extend through the neighborhood. The program seeks to expand pedestrian space in busy areas by reusing parts of the roadway not used for travel lanes.

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has launched the Busy Streets program as part of its response to COVID-19. The program expands on the Safe Streets Initiative that PBOT has already implemented with the Slow Streets and Healthy Businesses programs.

Last week one of four temporary bus platforms was added to SE Washington Street, north of 80th Ave. Three more are coming to bus stops at SE Stark Street at 82nd, 90th, and 92nd.

Expanded corners make it easier to physically distance while waiting to cross at busy intersections. Made by visible by paint and other indicators, they extend the corner out towards the traffic lane. SE Stark Street will receive corner enhancements at the intersections of 76th and 80th. Three expanded corners on Montavilla’s portion of SE Washington Street are at the 76th, 80th, and 92nd crossings.

A long stretch of SE Stark Street’s north side is receiving an expanded walkway, from 84th to 94th. This extra space allows pedestrians to move off the sidewalk into the street, allowing others to pass at a distance. Added paint and indicator poles should increase safety for pedestrians when they are on the roadway.

These temporary enhancements would be welcomed as permeant additions to the roadway. Perhaps they could become part of the final Jade and Montavilla Multimodal Improvements Project. Details of that project will begin the design phase soon, according to Lisa Patterson Capital Project Manager for Policy Planning + Projects at PBOT.

For now, the temporary improvements should promote Montavilla’s walkability until permeant upgrades are in place. Look for future work in the next few months as these projects complete construction.

Illustrated images are provided by Portland Bureau of Transportation

Food Hall Opening Weekend

This weekend marked the opening of Montavilla’s newest food hall. A hand-painted sign hangs over the doors of Rocket Empire Machine, announcing the location to the passersby. Inside are five new destinations for hungry and thirsty customers.

Located at 6935 NE Glisan Street, this highly anticipated opening attracted interest around Montavilla and beyond. Each unique location brings something special to Montavilla’s food scene, and together they continue the economic buildup on NE Glisan.

  • Gigantic Brewing Robot Room is Gigantic Brewing Company’s new taproom, in addition to their other location at 5224 SE 26th Ave.
  • The Pie Spot is also a second location for Jessica Woods, expanding the reach of the beloved local bakery and coffee bar at 521 NE 24th Ave.
  • Tierra Del Sol is the none mobile second location for Amalia Sierra’s Oaxacan and Mexican food cart.
  • Alleamin African Kitchen, by Khadro Abdi, is back in the neighborhood offering African fare.
  • Sea and River Sushi offers sushi and Burmese curries from first-time restauranteur Sonder Sin. Phone: 503-208-3956

In the future, this new food hall will offer outdoor seating shared between the five businesses. For now, each location will only offer takeout until restrictions change, and the outdoor accommodations become available. With the first days of operation behind them, all of these locations should be ready to earn the repeated patronage of the Montavilla residents.

Original photo from Opening day

Curb Extension on Washinton

East of SE 80th on Washington Street, Portland Bureau of Transportation has installed a temporary Curb Extension for the bus stop. Constructed out of asphalt and rubber tire stops, it is a none permanent installation. The bus stop serves both the 15 and 272 bus lines. Before this upgrade, the stop had limited sidewalk space for waiting passengers.

Bus stop curb extensions (also called Bus Platforms) provide a passenger waiting area and allow buses to stop in the traffic lane. The added space helps for efficient loading and unloading of passengers. Not waiting to merge back into traffic saves considerable transit time on a route. 

Although not a feature of this temporary curb extension, a permeant installation could improve pedestrian safety by shortening the distance to cross Washington Street. That will be a needed component of the future 80th Ave Greenway project.

Frequent users of this bus stop will enjoy the added space and faster service thanks to the new curb extension. This platform could last years before needing replacement by a permanent structure. Until then, TriMet riders will have a suitable temporary structure to wait on. 

UPDATEBike Portland wrote about the new temporary bus platforms as part of the Busy Streets program. This program will add more temporary bus platforms, Expanded walkways, and Expanded corners to Montavilla.

Removed project attribution to TriMet. A TriMet representative responded to an earlier inquiry and said it was a Portland Bureau of Transportation project.

Unbuilt Lot on NE 76th

recent split of the double-wide parcel at 127 NE 76th Ave, has created a full-sized unbuilt lot. Located near the main streets of Montavilla, Remax is listing the property for $240,000. 

The land is in an optimal location near Burnside but setback enough to avoid the sounds of traffic. A house built on this lot should blend into the area. Homes on this street are on 45 foot wide lots. This property is only slightly slimmer at 40 feet wide, allowing the new house to match the dimensions of the surrounding homes. The property has healthy mature trees that will further blend the new structure into the older neighborhood. 

Interested developers or someone looking to build their custom home should consider this property. Contact Mark Piersall with Remax at 503-318-1043 for further information.

Portland Auto Services Coming Soon

Portland Auto Services will open on Glisan Street in the coming weeks. Located at 7510 NE Glisan Street, it is replacing Mr. Kim’s Auto Repair that closed earlier this year. The building is a bright yellow with a blue band along the top, after being recently repainted.

The Rumpakis Family Trust owns the 1961 built auto shop. Mike Rumpakis manages the property. For 60 years, this location has been the home to many auto repair shops, starting with the Humble Oil Company (now Exxon).

Portland Auto Services is busy at work fixing up the building. Many cars and auto parts are in the fenced-in yard, but they will not accept customers for a while. When open, they can be contacted by phone at 503-210-1996. The company website is still under construction but will be online soon.

The building upgrades are a welcomed update to the area, providing color along the street. This new auto service is joining a few others on NE Glisan. New signs and other upgrades should be visible at the shop, in the weeks leading up to their official opening.

Mr. Kim’s Auto Repair after closing

Therm-O-Loc Relocates

A small office on NE Glisan Street sits empty. It had once been the location of Therm-O-Loc, a seller of Milgard doors and windows. Unlike other recent vacancies, this is due to expansion.

According to the Dorian Rady, owner of Therm-O-Loc, they outgrew the space on Glisan. The company recently relocated to a larger office on Airport Way. The new location is not yet open to the public. When completed, they will have a showroom for customers to visit. Their old office only allowed for a select number of samples.

Therm-O-Loc shared the space at 7920 NE Glisan Street with A to Z Blinds for over three years. The blinds company continues to operate from that location. Previously they used the whole building before subletting the small single room office to Therm-O-Loc.

It is unknown if A to Z Blinds will expand into the now vacant space or seek to sublet it once more. They remain open during the pandemic by appointment only, so more office space may not be needed.