Month: November 2021

New Glisan Sidewalk Removes On-Site Parking

Update The sidewalk reconstruction is now complete, with cars parked along the new curb. The work fulfills a Portland mandated change, explains Alex Ianos, the property owner. “The city wanted me to close the driveway due to the safety of people backing up into Glisan.” 

City staff did not require the parking lot’s removal during last year’s renovations. However, recent tenant improvements for the upcoming Isamini Bar allowed Portland to apply new parking design standards at the site. “A bar is opening in the small space close to the pool hall, and that permit triggered the sidewalk work,” said Ianos.

Completed sidewalk

Original article published November 19th, 2021

This week, crews reconstructed a section of sidewalk at 7909 NE Glisan Street. The building’s new owner redeveloped the property in 2020, replacing much of the sidewalk on the corner and creating extended curbs for shorter street crossings. The new mid-block pedestrian space removes a curb cut for onsite parking and adds two additional street tree cutouts, reconnecting the block’s tree line.

This redesigned sidewalk will abandon the current four-car parking lot in front of the single-story portion of the building. However, at least three more curbside parking spaces are now available for public parking on the block. The former parking slab may become outdoor seating for a future tenant or become a shared outdoor space for the building.

The nose-in parking used at this site can be hazardous for drivers and pedestrians. It creates a long section of sidewalk where cars could cross with reduced visibility. Additionally, cars have to back out into heavy traffic on NE Glisan when leaving. This sidewalk reconstruction will bring more trees to NE Glisan and should deliver enhanced safety. Look for a better walking experience at this location soon.

Concrete forms establishing three street tree cut outs

K & S Auto Center for Lease

In October of this year, Simon Kim of K & S Auto Center announced his retirement and the closing of the business. This decision marks an end to 25 years of serving Montavilla’s car care needs by this experienced mechanic. The three-bay auto shop at 7010 NE Glisan Street is currently available to lease.

Simon Kim moved to Portland with his family in 1994, opening up the automotive service center on NE Glisan. The Kim Family owns the commercial building and an attached residence on NE 70th Ave. One other business, HANKBUILT at 7006 NE Glisan Street, remains open at that location.

People interested in leasing the space should contact ksautocenter@gmail.com or call 503-939-4308

Glisan’s New Approach to Outdoor Seating

This month, Blank Slate Bar created unique outdoor seating on NE Glisan. Unlike other covered dining spaces constructed in curbside parking spaces, this open-walled shelter spans the entire width of the sidewalk, covering the whole pedestrian space. Its design is in response to concerns around customer seating adjacent to heavy traffic.

Over the last 18 months, bars and restaurants have relied on outdoor seating to serve customers safely during the pandemic. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) expanded those spaces through special free permits, accommodating a variety of seating configurations for the service industry. Most businesses in Montavilla chose to create Parking Plazas to serve guests. That style of outdoor seating converts space previously used for curbside parking into expanded sidewalk seating while maintaining adequate space for pedestrians. As the need for outdoor seating persisted, more substantial wood structures replaced temporary configurations. Most gained covered roofs and sidewalls.

This image and cover image by Weston Ruter

Regardless of the structure’s build quality, Parking Plazas have customers seated next to moving traffic with only a thin wood divider protecting people from passing vehicles. On slower streets, that is less of an issue. However, seating placed on SE Stark Street can feel dangerously close to fast-moving trucks and cars.

Compared to Stark Street, NE Glisan traffic is more hazardous. That reality caused Kierre Van De Veere, the Blank Slate Bark’s owner, to consider design alternatives for their outdoor seating. “We chose not to do parking space seating due to the busy nature of Glisan. So we worked with PBOT and our design team to come up with this option.” In this configuration, customers on Glisan have a parking lane buffer between vehicles and the tables.

Blank Slate Bar’s covered seating area features a transparent corrugated shed roof that extends from the front of the building to the curb and runs the entire width of the bar’s shopfront. The arrangement allows for two-person seating against the windows and larger group seating close to the curb. Pedestrians can walk through the center area in an arcade-style passageway between the tables. 

In addition to its unique placement, crews constructed the shelter out of large timbers. The result is a structure that seems permanent and intentional. People seem to appreciate the design used at Blank Slate Bar, according to Van De Veere. “We have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers and neighbors, who are always supporting us in any way they can.”

Regardless of the design, Van De Veere appreciates the impact of open-air seating on places like hers. “These outdoor spaces are a lifeline to small businesses.” The new seating is available just in time for winter and built to last for many years to come. Blank Slate Bar is located at 7201 NE Glisan Street Suite C and is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Apartment Fire on Burnside

Just before noon today, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to a fire in the Hartzog & Bristol Apartments at 9205 E Burnside Street. The fire started inside a second-story unit with limited spread to other residences. The two-alarm fire is now under control.

Observers noticed smoke coming from the roof of an apartment in the complex and notified 911 around 11:46 AM on November 16th. By 12:04 PM, fire crews closed NE 92nd Place from E Burnside to NE Everett. No injuries from the fire were reported. Crews are cleaning up now, and some residents have already returned to their apartments in the affected building. The quick response of PF&R limited the fire’s spread and minimized property loss. 

Temporary Bus Platform Survey

In August 2020, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) began installing temporary bus platforms in Montavilla. In partnership with TriMet, they deployed two types of temporary platforms across Portland. Crews installed five asphalt-style platforms on Stark and Washington Streets east of 80th Ave. PBOT used rubber-style platforms in the central city area. The bureau is currently evaluating the trial program and is seeking user feedback through an online survey.

Temporary platforms enable PBOT to make affordable changes on city streets faster than traditional methods. The early implementations focused on transit stops, making areas less congested to walk, bike, and use TriMet. The platform designs vary to meet different needs, depending upon the location. The rubber modular temporary bus stop platform allows bikes to ride up and over the platform, permitting cyclists to continue past the stop even when in use. The curb height platform extends across the parking lane, allowing buses to stop in the traffic lane. The asphalt temporary platform does not include a space for bikes to ride through the stop but enables the bus to pick up passengers without completely pulling over to the curb. Both designs provide riders with more room away from the sidewalk while waiting for the bus.

PBOT temporary bus platforms map

A technical evaluation is also underway to examine how staff interact with these new types of infrastructure. PBOT is studying installation and maintenance needs to capture lessons learned from those who install, maintain, and interact with the platforms. Additionally, bus operators have an opportunity to provide their perspective on the efficacy of the platform design and use.

Users interested in sharing opinions about these temporary installations are encouraged to take the PBOT survey before January 3, 2022. Researchers plan to engage with technical staff over the next few months. Anticipate the release of evaluation results and recommendations in mid-2022.

Picnic Shelter’s Funding on Hold

Last month, crews removed the aging picnic shelter at Montavilla Park and prepared the ground for new grass turf. Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) planned on replacing the structure with a modern 2,000 square foot open-walled shelter. However, a department-wide budgetary shortfall will postpone that work.

Preceding the demolition work, PP&R updated the Montavilla Park Picnic Shelter project webpage announcing the pending deconstruction of the structure while noting the lack of funds for its replacement. Park staff will plant grass seed on the worksite and open the space for general public use in the interim.

PP&R Public Information Officer, Mark Ross, confirmed the project’s indefinite delay. However, he emphasized that staff would continue to look for opportunities to revive this project in future budgets.

Proposed Montavilla Park Picnic Shelter, currently on hold.

Currently, PP&R has a $450 million backlog in unfunded major maintenance needs across the Parks system. Years of budget cuts and an ineffective funding structure reduced the Department’s ability to address needed repairs. “Portland Parks & Recreation has long been underfunded and has an aging but beloved parks system,” explained Ross. “PP&R is focusing our efforts on addressing the most critical repairs and identified service gaps, with equity at the forefront.”

To address the Parks department’s structural funding gaps identified in the 2019 budget process, PP&R staff worked with Portland City Council to develop the Sustainable Future Initiative. It included the directive to seek alternative funding sources to align operations with community expectations while not increasing the City’s budget. In November of 2020, voters approved a 5-year local option levy to maintain neighborhood parks, improve access and safety, provide equitable recreation programs, and proactively care for its natural areas and urban forest.

Levy funds saved many programs jeopardized by the monetary shortfall and kept park services available across the City. However, those funds had no impact on the maintenance backlog. “The Parks Local Option Levy is an operating levy, not a bond for capital projects,” explains Ross. Consequently, many projects are on hold, waiting for funding from other sources. With little money for these projects, PP&R must select projects based on specific criteria that address the most significant need. “These projects are ranked for equity, likelihood of failure, and consequence of failure,” said Ross.

With Montavilla’s decaying shelter demolished and no longer a danger, the project’s position could slip back in the queue based on the PP&R priorities. However, the project is not canceled and remains active. Funding for this project could arrive through several sources at any time. Until then, residents should not anticipate seeing significant changes at Montavilla Park, aside from the construction fences coming down and a little extra grass to enjoy.

Halal Meat & Grocery Closes on Glisan

Afgoye Halal Meat & Grocery recently moved out of its storefront at 7202 NE Glisan Street after seven years in business. The grocery store suffered several setbacks during the pandemic, prompting the owner not to renew the lease. This store was one of only a few reaming retailers serving the Islamic community in the area.

Owner Abdullah Shareef started the business in June of 2014 under the namer Bakaal Halal Meat & Grocery Store. However, by November 2014, the store changed its name to Afgoye Halal Meat & Grocery Store. Afgoye is a town and region in southwestern Somalia. The store offered foods and ingredients from Asia, India, and Africa. The shop also specialized in fresh-cut Halal meat. Halal is Arabic for permissible. Halal meat is butchered in accordance with Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.

Jamal Dar, Executive Director of the nearby African Youth & Community Organization, provided some insight into the business closure. “They were struggling due to the pandemic and lack of economic stability. That being said, they have closed the business and are looking for another opportunity for future business.”

1924 Sanborn Map

This two-story wood-framed building contains two storefronts and six apartments. Supposedly built in 1890, this unassuming building has a long history of accommodating renters. The actual date of construction is uncertain as the 1909 Sanborn map does not show any structures on the property. V. Cladek, a notable Montavilla figure, owned the rooming house in the early 1900s according to a 1918 plumbing permit when it had an address of 1840 E Glisan Street. Portland renumbered its streets in the 1930s to create a consistent address structure throughout the city. The 1924 Sanborn map shows the building in its current footprint with a label of “Housekeep’g R’ms” at the 1840 E Glisan address, suggesting that a later remodel added the storefronts to the ground floor.

Although Afgoye Halal Meat & Grocery’s time at the building was cut short, they added to the property’s extensive history and provided specialty foods for the community. The property owners have not yet listed the vacant retail space as available to lease. Expect to see a new shop in that location sometime in the future.

Metro Redistricting

Every ten years, in response to new national censuses data, Metro Council reevaluates its district borders. Although all portions of the greater Portland region gained new residents over the last decade, that growth did not occur evenly among the current districts. Each of the six Metro Council districts must contain roughly the same number of residents. As part of the 2021 redistricting process, Metro is asking for feedback on five redistricting scenarios.

All but one of the five scenarios offers little change to Montavilla’s representation on the Metro Council. However, Scenario B2 would move the neighborhood from District 6 into District 5. This proposed realignment groups most of SE Portland with NE Portland and moves East Portland beyond I205 into district 1.

Mary Nolan currently represents District 5. She started a four-year term on January 5th, 2021. Councilor Bob Stacey represented Montavilla’s District 6 for many years, until recently stepping down to address health concerns. Voters will elect a replacement for Stacey’s vacated seat next year in the November general election. However, if redistricting efforts change Montavilla’s district affiliation, residents will not vote on a new Metro representative for several years.

The Metro Council works with community leaders and constituents across city and county boundaries to shape greater Portland. In addition to operating many parks and venues like the Oregon Zoo, Metro fosters low-income housing projects throughout the region. Metro is behind one recent affordable housing development on NE Glisan Street between 74th and 75th Avenues. That project is in the planning phase, having just recently secured a development team.

The Metro Council has less than two months to draw new boundaries for the six districts. The Metro redistricting scenario survey is the public’s opportunity to provide input on redistricting. Survey comments will remain open until 5 PM on November 14th. Residents may also provide testimony at the November 9th or November 10th public hearings.

Fillmore Coffee Shop Moves Online Only

After six years serving the community from their cafe on NE Glisan Street, the owners of Fillmore coffee shop decided to close the physical store and embrace online coffee delivery. The pandemic closures and customer tensions stressed this early pioneer of Glisan street, forcing the family business to adapt. What had begun as a temporary financial bridge during the COVID-19 lockdown turned into the permeant path forward for the coffee company.

In June of 2015, when the Fillmore coffee shop opened at 7201 NE Glisan Street, there were few options like it on the street. The shop’s co-owner Tim Willcox perceived the lack of food services in the area as an opportunity to take his passion for coffee to the public and perhaps start a trend. “[I] saw a need for a community space on this stretch of Glisan. This was back when there was pretty much nothing happening aside from East Glisan Pizza. It was sort of a dead zone, and I think Fillmore helped to fuel some cool businesses developing in the area,” explained Willcox. Within a few years, bars, bakeries, and other dining options filled in around their shop.

Tim Willcox and his wife started the shop with a loan from his mother. For years, they struggled to build a stable business but saw success as others joined them on Glisan. Then COVID-19 brought that all to a halt. “We decided to cease our cafe operations due to the pandemic. Our sales had dropped nearly 80 percent in just a matter of days, and the lockdown on March 15th cemented our destiny. We had to let all of our staff go,” remembered Willcox. “Our only path to keeping the business alive was to start delivering bags of freshly roasted coffee to our customer’s doors.”

The roasted coffee delivery program kept them afloat until the cafe reopened in mid-May 2020. They served to-go orders through a plexiglass window with inside seating closed to the public. The business was nothing like before, and working in this reduced capacity stressed the staff. “Nobody was allowed inside the shop, and Monika was working her other full-time job while making all the food orders. Our daughter was doing remote learning on a laptop at the shop. It was a grind, to say the least. We managed to do this for a year until spring 2021,” explained Willcox.

After trying to make it work, it became apparent to Willcox that the new business model was not sustainable and no longer rewarding. “Things had just become too complicated and stressful with the pandemic, and while most of our customers were great and thankful about our safety protocols, we had to deal with quite a few people who were genuinely angry that they couldn’t come inside to order and hang out. We were screamed at and insulted by disgruntled customers.”

For the family business, it was time to move on from the cafe. However, Willcox did not want to give up on the delivery service. It is a way to keep roasting great coffee and remain connected to loyal customers. As an online-only business, Fillmore is still evolving, according to Willcox. “It’s still a work in progress. We’re building out a small Roastery and coffee lab. Things have been slower, yet still steady.” As the team builds onto the delivery business, they hope to gain a few wholesale customers and develop a nationwide mail-out service.

For Willcox, the transition to online coffee sales was the right choice for his family. “Right now, I’m happy with what we’re doing, and it gives me time to take my kid to and from school every day. It’s definitely less stressful.” If you miss your morning cup of Fillmore Coffee or want to try out one of their roasts, schedule a delivery online at orderfillmorecoffee.com

Tigersden Vintage Relocates to N Mississippi

After one year on NE Glisan Street, Tigersden Vintage relocated to 3900 N Mississippi Ave. Last month staff closed their Montavilla shop at 7035 NE Glisan Street and moved into a new retail space four and a half miles away. Despite strong ties to Montavilla, safety concerns prompted the shop’s relocation outside the neighborhood.

Owner Salina Nuñez is a Montavilla resident, making the retail space on NE Glisan Street a natural choice for her first physical storefront. “Our location on Glisan was my first brick & mortar [location], which we opened in the heart of the pandemic. I am so proud of the work that we were able to accomplish there and the vibrant community of vintage sellers that were financially supported by our success,” said Nuñez. She continued to explain that the supportive community fueled their early prosperity. “We loved our neighbors in Montavilla and grew to have many regulars. The folks [in] Montavilla are the best, and we learned so much from them about how to be a customer-oriented small business.”

Moving sale post from the company’s Instagram

The positive customer base could not always counteract other forces in the area. Eventually, concern for her staff’s safety caused Nuñez to relocate the business. “We were prompted to move due to the amount of violence and harassment that was taking place in the neighborhood. We had our front door smashed in and had to suffer through the mental illness crisis of many houseless folks who would come into our shop and harass the women who are employed [by] me. After a year of trying to build a sustainable resale clothing store in our neighborhood, I made the decision to move to a safer neighborhood.”

Moving a business is a difficult choice with many costs and the potential to lose customers. However, Nuñez noted some regulars have already ventured to the new location to show support. Tigersden Vintage staff are happy with the move and feel comfortable in the North Portland neighborhood. “Our new location on Mississippi is safer and has more support from the city and the police. We love the diversity of folks who shop with us, and Mississippi is a street that brings everyone together.”

This last year in retail challenged Nuñez, but ultimately her waste-reducing retail business thrived, and she sees a better future with these recent changes. “In this last year, we have sold over 100k of preowned clothing, accessories, and home goods that would have ended up in the landfill. The last year has been a wild ride, and the next few years will be even more awesome for Tigersden vintage & Modern.”