Month: October 2020

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.

Another Duplicate House

The new three-level house, located at 285 SE 90th Ave, is an exact duplicate of one at 1430 NE 72nd Ave. That house is also under construction with a similar completion date. Scot Harger owns both Properties, and Thogerson Designs created the blueprints for the homes.

These twin homes are the second set currently under construction in Montavilla. Many home buyers expect originality in architecture found in Portland’s older neighborhoods. However, reused blueprints are not uncommon in the region. This practice started over a hundred years ago with house kits from Sears Modern Homes. These identical structures are just the modern version of a long-standing tradition, saving costs by reusing construction documents. With these houses spread across the neighborhood, it will be difficult for anyone to notice the replication.

The driveway to this new home slopes down to a tuck-under garage. Inside the garage, to the left, is a hallway leading to the stairway up to the main floor. Off the hallway is a door to the lower level living area. Rooms on this floor have labels such as a recreation room, wet bar, and bedroom five. However, this area is essentially a separate one-bedroom apartment, with a private full bathroom, washer/dryer, and exterior entrance.

The main floor is several feet above the street-level, requiring a flight of stairs to get up to the covered front porch. The porch extends two-thirds the width of the house, stopping at the garage door. Inside the front door, there is an L-shaped stairway leading upstairs. To the right is the Great Room with a fireplace on the south wall. In the back right corner of the room is a Dining area. Although it is not walled off, the Dining area has 6-inch by 6-inch posts defining the room’s corners. A box beam ceiling further defines the space. A substantial 10-foot wide sliding glass door opens from the Dining area onto a fourteen by ten foot raised back deck.

To the left of the Dining area is the Kitchen, arranged in an L shape. Creating the boundary to the Kitchen is a large island with bar seating. The half bathroom sits in the back right corner of the main floor. Enclosed by double glass doors, bedroom four is on the front left side of the main floor. It is ideal for a home office instead of a bedroom, but has a closet and counts towards bedrooms.

The top floor has two standard sized bedrooms on the left side. They share a full bathroom located at the top of the stairs. A laundry room is off to the right of the stairway. The master suite occupies the right half of the top floor. The bedroom portion is fourteen feet square and topped by a tray ceiling. Beyond the bedroom is a double vanity on one side and soaking tub on the other. The ensuite area extends back further to include a toilet room, shower, and a large walk-in closet.

Unlike its duplicate, this home fronts on an unimproved road. It will be interesting to see if the builder creates sidewalks and a partial road around this corner lot. If not, it will be a useful experiment seeing if the difference between paved and unpaved roads will affect the home’s price.

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.

Excellent Cuisine Restaurant

A new bar and restaurant will soon open in the former Wong’s King Seafood location. A recent Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) liquor license reveals that Excellent Cuisine is opening at 8733 SE Division, Suite 101.

The King Plaza building prominently displays a new Excellent Cuisine sign, replacing the Wong’s King Seafood sign. Not too much information is available regarding the new establishment. The liquor license application paperwork shows a checkbox for “Video Lottery Machines” on site. The application was filed by Y & W Trading LLC with owners Yu Xiong Zhang and Wan Fang Kuang. The owners’ names are listed on the application but crossed out and replaced with the LLC.

In the coming months, expect to see more information on the cuisine type and an opening date. Based on current indoor dining restrictions, it’s likely to be a while before they open. However, many are already excited to see this location filled with another restaurant.

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

Montavilla News does not endorse individual candidates or ballot measures

End to Expanded Walkway Program

The Expanded Walkway Program in Montavilla has come to an end with less than successful results. Introduced this summer, it is part of the Busy Streets program. A Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) representative confirmed the early end of the area’s walkway program. 

Expanded Walkways was just one of three programs designed to aid in social distancing during COVID-19. Unlike Expanded Bus Platforms and Expanded corners, Expanded Walkways’ used nonstandard traffic control devices in some areas. In Montavilla, PBOT used narrow white arches instead of the standard vertical poles. Called wave delineators, they are developed by cycling specialty company Saris Infrastructure. Although designed for temporary use, the method chosen by PBOT to hold the delineators in place seemed to be ineffective. Many wave delineators broke or became displaced during their short time in use.

In Montavilla, the Expanded Walkway was attempted on the north side of SE Stark Street from 84th Ave to 94th Ave. Some accounts from local business owners on the street describe general confusion for drivers. Bicyclists also felt that these measures impended safe travel, particularly when delineators were knocked down or placed in the bike lane.

PBOT employee Michelle Marx wrote to a Stark Street business owner affected by the program, announcing the pilot’s completion. “PBOT used this pilot opportunity to test out an expanded walkway concept using temporary, movable delineators. Following staff observation and based on feedback we’ve heard from users, we’ve determined that the pilot has not been successful, and we will be removing the delineators and restoring the street to its former condition.”

East of Montavilla, other dividers used with better but still confusing results.

Although Expanded Walkways did not succeed in Montavilla, that program is testing with different delineators in other areas. Results from those Expanded Walkways and other COVID-19 street adjustments will become part of a PBOT report. “PBOT is currently evaluating all three pillars of our Safe Streets Initiative and will be releasing an evaluation report later this year.” Said Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator with PBOT. 

“The evaluation of the Busy Streets work will include evaluation metrics for both the expanded walkways pilots as well as the expanded street corners,” explained Schafer. The evaluation report will include recommendations on whether the temporary infrastructure should be removed or become permanent.

Experimentation is a necessary mechanism in developing effective solutions. Although Expanded Walkways did not accomplish its goals in Montavilla, it was a relatively small test and informed PBOT on challenges faced with this type of alteration. It is unknown if other the Busy Streets initiatives will meet expectations and remain in place. However, temporary Expanded Walkways in Montavilla did not work and no longer line Stark Street.


UPDATE – This story was updated with additional information from PBOT.

Curb Ramp Work at SE 91st and Burnside

UPDATE – New curb ramps are under construction at SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The old curbs and sidewalk are now removed. The ground is prepared with crushed rock for reconstruction. The next phase will see forms laid and soon after pouring of concrete.


Original Story published September 3rd

New curb ramps are coming to SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The corners are marked with cut lines and construction markings ahead of curb reconstruction.

Hannah Schafer, with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), commented that this intersection is “having the existing curb ramps reconstructed to meet current ADA standards as part of our ongoing updates to curb ramps across the city.”

This stretch of roadway has long been neglected, with one curb recessed to near road-surface level. Sidewalks are only present on Burnside Frontage Road, and PBOT has no plans to expand them along SE 91st Ave during this project.

A historically separated two-block portion of E Burnside runs parallel to the current path of E Burnside. Often listed as E Burnside Frontage Road, it was created when Burnside became a major road for traveling east. City engineers straightened the road to make Burnside continuous, leaving this section of Burnside wider. Later, Burnside was made a standard width creating this short frontage road. The 1928 Sanborn map illustrates the 12 block tract of land that shifted the streets off the standard grid.

Digital Sanborn Maps 1928

This article will be updated when construction begins.