Month: April 2021

Legislative Focus on 82nd Ave

This week, news crews were in Montavilla recording a KGW report. That news segment examined a renewed interest in transferring responsibility for 82nd Ave to the City of Portland. 82nd Ave is also State Highway OR-213 and maintained by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Maintenance of that roadway is suffering from neglect under ODOT’s management, and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is willing to assume responsibility for the street’s maintenance. However, before that happens, ODOT must repair and update the highway to modern standards. Otherwise, the deferred maintenance costs would overwhelm PBOT’s budget.

In 2018, ODOT entered into a memorandum of understanding with PBOT that identified nearly $200 million in repairs and safety upgrades required before PBOT could take ownership of 82nd Ave. Until recently, the memorandum is the farthest the transfer process has progressed.

KGW’s report focused on House Bill 2744, which is working its way through the Oregon legislature. The bill instructs the Director of Transportation to require each region specified in the Act to conduct jurisdictional transfer evaluations and then present their findings to the Joint Committee on Transportation. It also would establish an Oregon Highway Jurisdictional Transfer Fund to pay repair and upgrade costs needed to enact the transfers. If approved, this could mean a transfer of 82nd Ave would commence in just a few years.

House Bill 2744 is not the only piece of legislation that could affect 82nd Ave. An amendment to HB 3065 would transfer 82nd Ave to PBOT with a twenty-five percent reimbursement for the repairs and upgrades needed. PBOT’s Director Chris Warner drafted a letter to Oregon State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation regarding that amendment. Warner makes clear that a quarter of the required funding would not be acceptable to PBOT. He suggested that it would be an appropriate downpayment on repairs and upgrades but not sufficient for PBOT to accept the transfer.

The increased attention from Salem legislators towards 82nd Ave could indicate changes will come to the roadway relatively soon. As businesses invest in properties along the busy street, people will use the sidewalks and crosswalks with increasing numbers. Portland has worked to enhance the edges of the highway through the 82nd Avenue Plan. However, that requires substantial construction before triggering sidewalk expansion and reconstruction. A jurisdictional transfer is accepted as the best method to improve conditions on 82nd Ave. The cost has always been the barrier. It seems Oregon’s lawmakers could finally move past that obstacle with funding from House Bill 2744. Meaning that positive change on 82nd Ave could be just a few years away.


Cover Photo by Weston Ruter

Courtyard at Monti’s Cafe

Customers visiting Monti’s Cafe will soon enjoy a fenced courtyard with many amenities. Crews have created brick pillars around the former parking lot in front of the eatery. Soon, wrought iron fence segments will link the pillars together, creating a semi-secluded space for people to enjoy their purchases. A street-side gated entry will remain open during Monti’s Cafe’s hours of operation.

The idea to create this outdoor space predates the pandemic. However, owner Kelli Vinther explained that current circumstances made it a priority. “In the past year of COVID, comfortable and comforting outdoor seating has become extra important to our customers.” Vinther seeks to create an outdoor oasis for Monticello and Monti’s Cafe guests in this space that once served as a three-car parking lot.

The loss of parking was an easy sacrifice, according to Vinther. “The huge majority of parking is, and always has been, on street… The promise of an enlarged eating area far outweighs the loss of a few parking spaces.” Unlike the temporary outdoor seating created throughout the neighborhood in response to COVID-19 restrictions, this change is permanent, with substantial structure added to the property.

Eight umbrellaed tables will fill the newly enclosed area. Additional seating will surround a fire pit. The sounds of a fountain and an array of potted plants will further shape the space. The fencing and decorations will provide a buffer from the heavy traffic on SE Stark Street. “It’s going to be a beautiful, inviting courtyard for our customers to enjoy Spring, Summer, and Fall,” proclaimed Vinther.

Monticello Antique Marketplace and Monti’s Cafe are located at 8600 SE Stark Street. Both are open during construction.

US Foods CHEF’STORE Painted

This weekend, crews painted the US Foods CHEF’STORE located at 8250 SE Stark Street. This store recently was renamed, and this work is in line with that rebranding effort. The Smart Foodservice Warehouse company built the building in 2019. US Foods acquired the property and 70 other Smart Foodservice locations in early 2020 when purchasing the Smart Foodservice company. Last February, the new owners officially changed the store’s name to US Foods CHEF’STORE. Within days, the store’s signage updated to reflect the new branding.

Painters covered the original beige panels and the previously unpainted Split-face Concrete Blocks with off-white paint. The building’s color now matches the traditional white and green aesthetic seen in US Foods CHEF’STORE locations across the country. More branding-related updates will continue inside the store. However, most of the building’s exterior appears complete.

Smart Foodservice prior to new signs and painting
Building primed and ready for paint
Building primed and ready for paint
Final paint color as seen from SE 82nd and Stark

US Bank Property Sells to EyeHealth Northwest

Last month, the former US Bank location on NE Glisan street sold to a prominent eye care specialist. On March 5th, a Quick Claim Deed filed with Multnomah county shows United States National Bank of Oregon sold the building, and surrounding parking lot, to EyeHealth Northwest. Located at 6701 NE Glisan Streetthe site has remained vacant since the bank permanently closed in late 2020.  

EyeHealth Northwest operates a chain of eye clinics in the Portland-Metro region. Locations offer optometric services, including eye exams and eyewear sales. This property’s proximity to Providence Medical Center makes this an ideal place for the healthcare provider.

The quick sale of the site is a good indication of NE Glisan’s continued economic growth. Nearby businesses should see an increase in foot traffic when EyeHealth Northwest opens this office.


Disclosure: EyeHealth Northwest employs a relative of the author. However, that person did not provide information about the sale.

Portland Street Response Expands to Montavilla

This month, Portland Street Response (PSR) expanded its boundaries beyond the Lents neighborhood. Starting April 1st, PSR teams will offer a non-police response to a larger area that includes the eastern half of Montavilla. With the expanded service area comes a broader service scope that now includes public spaces inside buildings.

The PSR program officially launched in late February with a new approach to specific emergency calls. The program diverts non-violent calls involving people experiencing houselessness or behavioral and mental health issues to specialists equipped to resolve those situations. At launch, the program only addressed incidents occurring outdoors and did not have staff enter buildings. The recent changes permit the teams to enter publicly accessible spaces such as a business, store, or a public lobby. PSR is not responding to calls within a private residence.

Initially, the PSR program used Portland Fire & Rescue’s boundary system called Fire Management Areas (FMA) to assign calls to their team members. Within a month, it became apparent that they missed calls outside the FMA that PSR had the capacity to address. As a test, PSR will switch to using the Portland Police Bureau’s police district areas to determine their response zone. That change has lead to the increased service area that now includes Montavilla from 82nd Ave to I205.

Dispatchers determine what calls are assigned to fire, police, and PSR staff. Requests for assistance with any situation should continue routing through 911 or the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333. However, if you live in the expanded service area, there is a possibility that PSR could handle your call. A potential PSR response will encourage some residents to reporting situations that they may not have before. Many concerns don’t require a police response but instead, need trained specialists to de-escalate a situation.

People interested in following the PSR team’s progress can use a newly created dashboard to view aggregate metrics regarding calls and a heat-map of activity. Expect to see more PSR dispatches in Montavilla soon.

New expanded Portland Street Response area showing eastern Montavilla and the other service areas. That area includes SE Division St. on the north, SE Clatsop St. (roughly) on the south, SE 62th Ave. (roughly) on the west, and Powell Butte along the eastern boundary.

New Plaza Owners Bet on Retail Growth

The 82nd Street Plaza building recently sold to a group of investors who see opportunity in Montavilla’s expanding downtown. Located at 322 SE 82nd Ave, this 1963 era building sits mid-block just north of Stark Street. The new owners will transform the location through building-wide upgrades that enhance the property’s appearance and functionality.

The owners of this property predict that Montavilla’s retail core is expanding towards this block, provided they create an enticing destination. “This building has a lot of potential… it just needs a facelift and a pivot in the leasing in order to pop,” explained Bob Thomas, one of the building’s owners. The investors are committed to updating the building inside and out, including the already rented spaces. All current tenants received offers to extend leases and negotiate improvement to their units. “Most of our ground-floor tenants have expressed a desire to stay,” said Thomas.

The three-story building has four ground-floor retail shops. Oregon Grown operates both a dispensary and the OG Garden Supply at either end of the building. The All Ways Warm fireplace store was the building’s previous owner and will maintain a retail space on the property. Bánh Mì Nam Lộc Deli occupies the other center spot next to All Ways Warm. The second floor is currently empty, having previously rented to a single tenant who vacated the building before its sale. The basement level has remained unused since the closing of the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in 2014.

Over the next few weeks, the building’s exterior will dramatically change. Darker paint and a cedar-siding band above the first floor will change the current color palette of the building. Crews permanently removed green awnings from the structure, and soon the building will feature a new name. The 82nd Street Plaza will become known as Annex, referencing Montavilla Town’s expansion to this section of 82nd Ave.

Work is well underway. The parking lot is clear of the extra sheds and storage containers that once cluttered the property. Painters are prepping the building for its new colors, and replacement business signs are already on order for each retail unit.

The second-floor office space was not in rentable condition due to its many alterations over the years. Previous to the external work, all interior finishes on the top floor were removed down to the framing, providing a blank canvas for future tenants. The 5,000 square-foot space is currently available for leases by a single business or divided into several suites.

The property spans five tax lots, with three of them used only for parking. Thomas explained that “there is ample parking at the property currently,” and it’s excessive for the building’s needs. Consequently, the owners are exploring the addition of a food cart pod to the property.

Investment at this level in Montavilla indicates a positive shift for the area. Substantial economic advances will take years to materialize, but this building’s facelift will provide visible proof that change is coming. Businesses interested in leasing space at this location should contact Peak Asset Management by phone or email at (503) 567-8692 and info@peakassetmgt.com.

82nd Street Plaza days before exterior work started

New Corner on 92nd and Market

Reconstruction of the first of four street corners at SE Market Street and 92nd Ave completed construction last week. The work is part of the East Portland Access to Employment and Education project that starts at this intersection and extends east to 130th Ave. Crews recently completed a nearby sidewalk infill as part of this project.

Portland Bureau of Transportation project plans shows alterations to all four corners at this intersection. However, this recently completed southwest street corner and ramps differ from the design documents. The southern ramp is located further down the street in alignment with the corner across SE 92nd Ave in those plans. The completed corner replicates the existing crosswalk access that is not aligned perpendicular to the curb. Crossings at 90-degree angles to the curb are important to sight-impaired pedestrians.

Image from EPAEE Detailed Plans. Courtesy PBOT

Any upgrade to this intersection is a vast improvement to existing conditions. However, the proposed street corners would create safer and more accessible crossings. Plans feature extended curbs to shorten crossing distance and increase pedestrian visibility, in addition to optimum crosswalk alignment. Ideally, the completed intersection will better match the proposed design.

TriMet Opens New SE Division Platform

Friday morning TriMet announced the opening of their new platform serving the Division Transit Project. This event celebrated the fifty-percent completion point for the Rapid Bus initiative. When finished, it promises to deliver fast transportation from Gresham to Downtown Portland along 15 miles of the number 2 bus line.

TriMet’s Interim General Manager, Sam Desue Jr., emphasized the project’s economic and equitable merits. “This project here is going to spur economic recovery from the Pandemic. It created over 1,400 jobs and added more than $138,000,000 in economic value in this corridor.” Desue continued to explain that seventy percent of the companies involved in construction were majority staffed by people of color and women.

Raimore Construction President Jeff Moreland speaking, TriMet Interim General Manager Sam Desue, Jr and Division Transit Project Director Michael Kiser left

Raimore Construction serves as the lead contractor on the Division Transit Project. Rainmore President Jeff Moreland Sr. spoke about the challenges of keeping the project moving during the Pandemic. He stressed the value of his company’s 20 year-long relationships with TriMet and the transportation agency’s support for disadvantaged businesses.

The Division Transit Project is on budget and achieving timely milestones on its way to the completion date in the Fall of 2022. Starting this Sunday, line 2 buses will begin using two of the completed stations for regular service. Both stations work differently than most in the transit system. They implement a shared bicycle and pedestrian design, diverting bike lanes over the raised platform.

Much of the Southern edge of Montavilla is actively under construction in support of this project. Beyond better service to TriMet riders, it has reconstructed large portions of the sidewalk and upgraded many adjacent street corners. The community will not feel the full benefit from TriMet’s investment for another year. However, the improvements on this often neglected road are already becoming noticeable.

Proposed Budget Cuts Target Fire Station 19

Last December, Mayor Ted Wheeler instructed bureau directors to reduce budgets by five percent for the upcoming fiscal year. Shortfalls in revenue over the previous year require a cutback in City spending. The resulting budget proposal from Portland Fire & Rescue removes services that would impact Fire Station 19 in Montavilla. Although the proposal argues against making those changes, it achieves the Mayor’s cost savings goal.

A proposed service reduction in the 2021-2022 budget would eliminate four Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV). Portland Fire & Rescue added the RRV units to some fire stations several years ago to reduce response time and lessen the need to send out four-person fire engine crews to none-fire emergencies. An RRV is an SUV-style truck containing a two-person team. They dispatch quickly to incidents and often resolve calls without the need for additional firefighting equipment. The program has reduced response time and lowered the operational costs for Portland Fire & Rescue.

Portland has four RRV teams active in the City. Each unit requires 4 to 6.5 Full-time employees to operate. One of those RRV units is attached to Fire Station 19, located on E Burnside Street at NE 73rd. Stations 11, 23, and 31 house the other Portland RRV units. RRV crews at Station 19 responded to 3,129 incidents in 2020. Eliminating the RRV from Montavilla would substantially increase the workload on Engine 19, which is already the third busiest engine in Portland.

Although the RRVs are valued additions to Portland Fire & Rescue’s response team, some services they provide overlap with the new Portland Street Response program. Most services do not overlap, but that new program could replace some of RRV’s services. Portland Street Response is early in its development and does not cover the same area that RRV units currently serve. Consequentially, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Budget Advisory Committee recommends the restoration of RRV funding in the 2021-2022 budget instead of achieving the five-percent budget reduction. Besides keeping the RRVs, this budget promotes expanding the Portland Street Response program to 10 teams from the two already funded. 

The City’s annual budget process often seeks cost reduction opportunities and requires an earnest examination of department spending. The proposed reduction of services meets the Mayor’s target while offering the lowest performance impact possible, but with an expected service degradation. 

In reviewing the Portland Fire & Rescue’s proposal, the City Budget Office (CBO) is not recommending reductions to frontline services provided by RRV units. “RRVs are a relatively costeffective strategy for addressing lower acuity calls and are able to respond more quickly to more serious emergencies while other apparatus are still in route.”

Despite the favorable outlook on the RRV program, the CBO examined a possible reduction in hours that could provide some cost savings while avoiding the program’s shutdown. The CBO report proposes a peak staffing model as an alternative. That would reduce RRV schedules to a 10-hour daily shift, cutting the number of full-time employees needed.

Over the next month, Portland’s budget will receive input from City Council work sessions and community comments. During this time, city leaders will have to balance the budgetary shortfall against the need to provide essential services.

People interested in commenting on the budget will have an opportunity on Wednesday, May 5th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Sign-up before 4:00 pm on May 4th to contribute your comments at the Mayor’s Proposed Budget Hearing. There are also several dates before May 5th to listen and comment on budget matters. See the Budget Events website for details.