Month: October 2020

NE Pacific Street Sewer Repair

A two-year-long sewer repair project in Montavilla is coming to an end. One of the last segments needing completion is near Montavilla Park, on Pacific Street, east of 82nd Ave. Work begins Monday and could continue for up to two months.

The Montavilla North and South Sewer Repair project started July 12, 2018. The project replaced or repaired miles of 100-year-old sewer pipe through a variety of construction techniques. Most of the work completed months ago. This work on Pacific Street and a few other small segments will complete the project.

Starting November 2, crews will use Cured-In-Place-Pipe lining (CIPP) and open trench construction on Pacific Street from 82nd Ave to 87th Ave. Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) outlined the work planned for NE Pacific Street Sewer Repair on the project website.

NE Pacific Street between NE 82nd and NE 84th avenues – Beginning Monday, November 2, crews will begin repairing a mainline public sewer pipe using two construction methods, open trench and CIPP.  

NE Pacific Street midway between NE 84th and NE 87th avenues – Beginning Monday, November 2, crews will begin repairing part of a mainline public sewer pipe using open trench construction method.

Image courtesy City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services 

Historic Factory for Sale

The often-overlooked office building at 7305 NE Glisan Street is available to buy or lease. Originally constructed in 1907, many businesses have repurposed this location to serve their needs. Contrary to its appearance today, this location began as a manufacturing hub and home to early Montavilla industry.

Advertisement in the The Oregon daily journal of September 08, 1907

The Standard Broom Co. commissioned the building to house its broom factory. For five decades, they produced household brooms, and later rubber mats, from this location. Brooms manufactured in Montavilla sold to customers throughout the region. Meier and Frank repeatedly featured Standard Broom Co. brooms in advertisements promoting Oregon made products. The company experienced a great deal of success in making their product at this location.

Image from Digital Sanborn Maps Portland 1908-1909

By 1910 Standard Broom Co. expanded to other properties along east Glisan. Sometime between 1924 and 1950, the company expanded to making rubber mats in addition to brooms. Not too long after construction, the building changed addresses from 615 E Glisan to 1865 E Glisan. In the massive renumbering of Portland, the address changed again to 7315 NE Glisan. 

Image from Digital Sanborn Maps Portland 1924

As a factory, the location featured many modern advancements. Listed in Sanborn Maps for 1908-1909, the property had a night watchman, gas lights, and three fire extinguishers. A gasoline engine provided onsite power for the factory. According to the 1924 map, they had electric lights and power off the city grid. Steam provided heat for the building. Broom production remained at this location at least until 1950.

Image from Digital Sanborn Maps Portland 1950

The building is the current home to Harry L. Stearns Inc., an interior lighting, exterior lighting, and lighting controls supplier. The building is for sale with the property fully leases. However, some leasing sites reference vacancy starting in January 2021. That could point to Harry L. Stearns Inc.’s intent to move out of the facility.

The two-story building offers 7,368 square feet of office space. A small gated parking lot on the side of the building provides 16 parking spaces. Although its factory days are behind it, there are many reconfiguration opportunities with this building. Whatever new business takes over the building, this structure has proven that it can reinvent itself.

Forgotten Parking Lot

The long-unused parking lot at 7601 SE Division Street remains on the market. After selling to investors in 2015, the owner attempted several housing projects on the site. None of those seem to have moved past planning, and the property remains for sale.

Originally this location had an address of 1927 Division Street before the renumbering of Portland streets. The property was owned by the Pickard family as early as 1916. That year, the Morning Oregonian of March 29th and September 7th, listed it as the home address for George B. Pickard.

A few years later, The Oregon daily journal of August 15th, 1922, reported this location as the home of Mrs. Josephine Pickard. That same year Clarence Larsen was said to live at that address by the August 22 Morning Oregonian.

Before the 2015 sale to its current owners, 7601 SE Division Street served as employee parking for the Kaiser clinic. The secure parking lot featured 60 parking spaces and electronic gates on a 40,075 square-foot lot. The property went for sale in 2014 after the Kaiser clinic closed.

The nearby Portland Community college (PCC) considered purchasing it at their July 17th Board of Directors meeting that year. The asking price for the property was one million dollars. Beyond the over market rate asking price, other complications are documented in the PCC Board agenda notes.

“A significant complicating factor is that zoning for the property is uncertain. Staff’s view is that Kaiser’s need to provide for employee parking developed after the clinic’s development. In response to neighbor concerns, it appears that the City granted a temporary zoning change from R2 (residential) to CN2 (neighborhood commercial) to allow the property to be developed as Kaiser employee parking. It appears that this zoning action required that the zoning reverts to R2 upon a change in ownership. It further appears that this rezoning to CN2 occurred via a process that is no longer permitted, so the process for the zoning reversion is unclear.”

PCC investigated the purchase but ultimately declined to move forward. The following year DIG 76th Division LLC bought the property for $525,000 and has sought to sell or develop the site ever since. Capacity Commercial’s current asking price for the property is $4,075,000.

The zoning issue noted by the PCC Board is no longer an uncertainty now that the property is CM2 zoned. That will allow mixed-use for retail, office space, and residential construction. Any development on the property would not require onsite parking due to its access to mass transit.

If the property sells for a reasonable price, this location would be an ideal low-income development. It is walking distance from PCC and on the number 2 TriMet bus line for fast downtown access. At a time when the City is looking to add more affordable housing, letting this unused parking lot remain undeveloped seems like a wasted opportunity.

Interested buyers should contact George Diamond or Nicholas Diamond at 503-326-9000.

Design Evolution

Six years ago, the apartments at 7706 & 7718 SE Washington Street went before the Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) for design review. The building designer described the process as challenging and laments some of the changes made to address neighborhood concerns.

There were very few multi-story apartments proposed for Montavilla in 2014. The designer of the project, Kym Nguyen of Concept Design and Associates LLC, recalled a great deal of opposition from the community. “They were strongly against it as I think this was the only [project with] multiple units proposed in that area. They said it would ruin the neighborhood.”

In preparation for the apartment’s design review, the Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) posted the project’s images and descriptions on their Facebook page. Lew Scholl was the Land Use and Transportation Chair for MNA in 2014. In correspondence with Nguyen, Scholl shared some community criticism the project received on Facebook. Comments centered around the roofline and lack of on-site parking.

Much of Facebook criticism echoed through public commentary at the October 2014 MNA meeting. “It was a very interesting meeting process, some very rude [people] and some being cautious [with] what they were saying,” described Nguyen. Lew Scholl did not recall the MNA meeting as being highly critical of the project. “There were no highly controversial issues about what was proposed… Some comments were posted on the MNA Facebook Group about parking that she brought up with the owners, but she was not able (nor required) to provide on-site parking. The development met the city’s zoning code, and no variances were requested.”

The commentary offered at the meeting advanced the project towards a publicly acceptable design. However, not all changes desired by neighboring residents were possible. “The zoning at this site back then is R1, which limited the height, along with the setback and building plan. It was challenging on the design to have parking on-site, so I recommended to have two levels and only two parking [spaces] available at the rear of the site.” Explained Nguyen.

Criticism of the roofline and zoning height restrictions forced Nguyen to choose a more conventional hip roof for the final design. She felt it was an unfortunate compromise. The high peak created by a modern one side shed roof allowed for a vaulted ceiling on the second floor. Taller walls could bring more light into the living space by accommodating larger windows. Nguyen imagined those elements would have enhanced the perceived beauty felt by the occupants. There were also practical advantages to the original roof design. Rainwater management would run along just one side of the roof instead of the entire parameter, creating a cleaner aesthetic and providing easier maintenance.

Ultimately the builder made more compromises towards conventional design. Standard vinyl windows replace unequal split sash windows. The building’s color pallet changed from dark to light, and cladding highlights became muted by material and paint.

Examining past projects like this can be helpful as we enter a new era of density in Montavilla. Changes in zoning during the last six years encourage more multi-story projects in neighborhoods. Now is a good time for the community to consider how multi-family buildings will fit into the area. Apartments by their nature will not look like a classic single-family home. Residents will need to come to terms with that and start to think about what features of large buildings will comfortably fit in the community.

Original design. Concept Design and Associates LLC

Updated design after MNA meeting. Concept Design and Associates LLC

Design update addressing roofline concerns. Concept Design and Associates LLC

Apartments as built

Stein Haus Building Razed

After eighty-six years, the Stein Haus building at 2366 SE 82nd Ave met its end. The long-shuttered building’s removal makes way for a new building, yet to be announced. The old establishment had a long history in the area, representing the old-Portland bar culture.

Demolition permit 20-187725 issued to the developer on October 9th, and twelve days later, crews razed the structure. The property is owned by the same company that recently completed the Pacific Plaza building adjacent to this lot.

The Stein Haus building existed during the car-centric era of 82nd Ave. Its design attracted attention from moving vehicles, and it pushed far forward towards the street, encroaching on the sidewalk. Any new structure will need to sit back from SE 82nd Ave, creating a safer pedestrian area.

Losing older structures like Stein Haus is always disheartening. However, redevelopment can make way for a better economic and socially enriching future. Hopefully, another business with rich character will occupy this spot.

Countdown to School Changes

Portland Public Schools (PPS) has one year to redraw school boundaries across Southeast Portland. With a new middle school opening and the depreciation of k-8 schools in the district, the countdown to student reorganization is underway. This month, PPS released the first draft proposal for grade configuration changes, boundary adjustments, and program movement.

Under the proposed plans, Harrison Park will convert from teaching K-8 to only accommodating grades 6-8. Students entering grades 6-8 will remain at the school. Harrison Park’s attendance zone will expand into Bridger and Vestal areas, accepting students moving up from those schools. K-5 students at Harrison Park will transfer to Bridger and Vestal. Grade 6-8 students from Bridger and Vestal will move to Harrison Park.

Additionally, Bridger students living north of Woodward Street will now feed into Madison High School if the plan remains as proposed. Many other dual-language based classes will also move around to other schools. However, all these changes are still in the planning phase. The proposal is currently up for discussion and changes.

The Southeast Guiding Coalition Meetings are still underway and will not complete phase one until December 17th of this year. PPS has set up a Google form to solicit comments regarding the proposed changes. That is just one way to provide feedback about their plan to balance student enrollment and programs across the district. PPS has made efforts to be transparent about the process, providing resource materials and videos of the meetings. On October 29th at 6 PM, the Coalition will hold an Open House to interact with the public regarding this process.

Changes regarding school assignments are always complicated and could be challenging as students get back to the classroom from distance learning. These changes are necessary to make way for work that is already in progress and adapt to modifications to k-8 schools. Hopefully, community involvement will lead to positive results as this process continues.


Discloser: The author has a child attending a Portland Public School

Church Parking Lot Upgrade

Enhancements to SE 80th Ave’s paving and sidewalks have encouraged improvements to private property along that road. The Slavic Church Emmanuel has undergone an upgrade project to its parking lot, creating a new entrance onto SE 80th Ave. The new fence, gate, and lighting are nearing completion.

At the beginning of this year, SE 80th Ave received a complete overhaul from Bridger School to the Portland Community College’s southeast campus. For the first time on the section of the road sidewalks line the street. Additionally, a modern roadway now replaces the once deteriorated driving surface. Located at 2025 SE 82nd Ave, the church occupies a large lot that pushes back to SE 80th Ave. However, many drivers often avoided this section of the SE 80th due to its poor condition. Consequentially the church did not have access to the parking lot on that street.

Road construction cut into some of the church property on its western edge. Overgrown hedges and a small fence needed removal for the project, leaving the back parking lot exposed. The Slavic Church Emmanuel took the opportunity to install a black chainlink fence along the new roadway and created a curb cut leading to SE 80th Ave. Soon vehicles will have access to SE 80th Ave, in addition to the main entrance on SE 82nd Ave.

Beyond the parking lot’s border improvements, the asphalt parking surface has expanded. This weekend crews were at work spreading the oily rock several feet west. Now cars can drive right up to the back fence line. In perhaps the most useful upgrade, permit number 20-179802 will add “New parking lot lighting.”

These upgrades should make the parking lot safer and more accessible for members of the church. Additionally, this transformation to SE 80th Ave’s frontage will enhance the appearance of the street. The new parking lot light further illuminates the road, and the clean fence line makes the area look more active.

Tabor Volvo Service on Glisan

Upgrades are underway at the Volvo service shop located at 6901 NE Glisan Street. Alamo Automotive has operated from this location for 20 years. With the former owner Mitch Wilson’s retirement, the new owner is busy putting his mark on the business.

Rebranded as Tabor Volvo Service, Brandon Cox has taken the reins of the repair shop where he honed his skills. Cox worked at this location for ten years before setting out for other opportunities in 2016. Cox remained in contact with Wilson over the years and had an open offer to take over the business when the time came. This year Wilson announced his retirement, taking Cox up on his offer to buy the business. “I’ve always loved cars, and my dream was to own a shop someday. So as they say, I’m now livin’ the dream,” remarked Cox.

Brandon Cox has a great deal of admiration for Mitch Wilson’s legacy but admits there are areas he can improve the shop. “Mitch was kind of a Volvo God in this area. Gave great deals to customers, but also was cleanliness challenged,” explained Cox. Over the years, many older Volvos have sat on the property in various states of disrepair. Cox is trying to remove one or two cars from the parking lot per week.

“Our plans are to get all the wrecked cars out of the lot and replace the old worn out chain fence with a nicer looking rod iron style. Clean up the lot and do some minor landscaping. Enough to make an inviting look to the place.” Explained Cox.

Longtime employee, Dennis Dillon, has remained on staff through the transition. Dillon is the uncle of Brandon Cox’s childhood friend and helped introduce Cox to the world of Volvo repair. Cox grew up close-by, attending Rose city park elementary, Roseway heights middle school, Grant high school, and PCC. 

Similar Texaco on NE Ainsworth & Union, 1937. Image courtesy of City of Portland Archives

Beyond being a recognizable landmark on NE Glisan, Tabor Volvo Service is home to a piece of automotive history. Opening in 1925 as a Texaco Gas station, the property features a unique Pueblo Revival service station with an arched entrance canopy. Around 1958, it became a Union Oil gas station. There are very few of these Pueblo-style gas stations left. Originally a Pueblo-style lubrication and tire station was in the back right corner of the lot. As with the reaming building, it was a flat-roofed stucco structure with projecting beams.

Tabor Volvo Service is open Monday through Thursday, 8:30-5:30, and Friday 8:30-2:00. They have recently expanded their service offerings to include all vintages of Volvo cars, including new models. Reach them at 503-408-1079 or their website to schedule an appointment. Watch for the site to continue to improve and bring by your Volvo when it needs servicing.

US Bank Branch Closing

Montavilla’s closest U.S. Bank branch is closing as part of a statewide reduction. Located at 6701 NE Glisan Street, the 1962 era branch is just outside the boundary of Montavilla. It, along with 26 other Portland branches, will close permanently on November 1st.

The Oregonian published the complete list of closures yesterday, announcing employees at those locations would lose their jobs. Many terminated employees are allowed to reapply for new roles within the company. This round of closures is a relatively large number for the Portland founded banking giant.

Safe deposit customers at this location have until December 1st to retrieve their items. Customers should call 888-713-9299 to arrange access to the safe deposit items.

United States National Bank Of Oregon owns the building on NE Glisan. It is unknown if the bank will sell the property. However, other recently closed U.S. Bank locations have sold after closing. The former branch at 3233 N Lombard Street sold this summer for $1,035,000.

The NE Glisan property spans the block’s entire width between NE 67th Ave and NE 68th Ave. Attached to this property are two full-sized residential lots fronted on NE 68th Ave. They currently provide parking for the bank. This property would be an ideal location for a multistory apartment building with some ground-floor retail. It is high on the Glisan hill, potentially providing excellent views on the upper floors. The site is adjacent to a Fred Meyer grocery store and walking distance from a Max station.

U.S. Bank customers that used this branch should consider visiting the location at 10220 SE Washington Street. Montavilla has very few banks in the area. However, the nature of banking has changed recently, thanks to technology making app-based banking more accessible. With some luck, this location will soon become a beneficial space for the community again.

New Park Picnic Shelter in 2021

Pre-construction work passed another milestone last week for the new picnic shelter at Montavilla Park. Demolition of the old shelter and wading pool will make way for the updated picnic space.

“Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) staff are making good progress in planning and have secured the needed permits. PP&R will be moving the design forward to be ready for bidding, likely in 2021.” Said Mark Ross, a Media Relations representative with Portland Parks & Recreation.

Issued October 7th, Permit 20-160791 outlines the creation of a “new picnic shelter and expansion of asphalt drive north of structure.” This summer, Portland issued two demolition permits for the old shelter and wading pool. PP&R will not replace the former wading pool.

Budgetary constraints on PP&R could challenge the construction of projects like the new picnic shelter. However, Ross believes that funding will be available for this project when construction starts in 2021. “At that time, we hope for the necessary amount of project funding and staff capacity.”

On the ballot this year is Measure 26-213. It seeks to create a five-year tax levy that would provide PP&R with approximately $48 million each year. Funding from Measure 26-213 taxes would not necessarily pay for this upgrade to Montavilla Park but could ensure that additional citywide cuts do not dramatically affect the PP&R budget. Budget cuts could push this project to a later date.

Outdoor spaces are more important than ever when we look at our long-term recovery from COVID-19. Creating usable, safe spaces in the fresh air will help in the immediate future. Additionally, investing in long term improvements to our parks will secure their viability if economic circumstances cause future budgetary shortfalls. With luck, Montavilla residents will be enjoying a new picnic shelter in the warmer months of 2021.

Old shelter and decommissioned wading pool. Image courtesy of Google Maps

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