Author: Jacob Loeb

My family and I moved to Montavilla in 2005, firmly planting our roots in the neighborhood. Before writing for the Montavilla News, I wrote Apple Computer focused articles for PowerMax and the Mac Store.

Commercial Building for Sale on SE 80th

The single-story brick building at 327 SE 80th Avenue is for sale. The shop most recently housed Dan’s Auto Upholstery. However, the 1949-era building is divided into two units, each space having an independent street-facing entrance and rollup automotive door. Located near the center of Montavilla Town, this commercial building could easily support a variety of businesses, including retail or food service.

The owners are seeking nearly $1.5 million for the property, positioning it as an owner-occupied investment with added tenant revenue. The building occupies practically the entire lot at 4,600 square feet. It has twelve and a half feet of internal height, making the building move-in ready for automotive or manufacturing use. However, the Commercial Mixed Use 2 (CM2) zoning would allow retail, office, and housing on the site. The new owner could potentially build above this structure, supporting up to three additional floors of offices or apartments.

Interested buyers should contact Capacity Commercial Group through their website or review the real estate flyer.

New Corners on NE 74th and Glisan

City engineers plan to improve three sidewalk corners at NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street. Construction at the adjacent affordable housing project will reconstruct the fourth corner of this intersection sometime next year. Although curb ramps already exist at this intersection, they no longer conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and need updating.

The NE Glisan Street crossing at 74th Avenue serves a crucial role in pedestrian and bicycle transit. The next closest controlled intersection is nearly 2,000 feet away in either direction. Only a Rapid Flash Beacon (RFB) at NE 78th Avenue provides any other protected crossing in the immediate area, and vehicles often fail to yield to people using those signals. The recorded audio at that RFB acknowledges this fact in its message. “Please use caution. Vehicles may not stop.” Consequentially, many non-automotive travelers use the 74th Avenue crossing.

Northwest corner of NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street

The curb reconstruction work will relocate some stormwater drains and expand the sidewalk by extending the corner further into the street. However, this will not incorporate the curb extensions that reduce pedestrian crossing distances and place the sidewalk zone at the outer edge of the parking lane, similar to what crews constructed at NE 79th Avenue. Although those infrastructure features would likely make the intersection even safer, extended sidewalks would interfere with a nearby TriMet stop by blocking the bus as it pulls away from the curb.

The sidewalk updates to NE Glisan Street at NE 74th Avenue will increase the utility of this crossing for pedestrians by providing flush curb ramps and reducing the flooding seen at these corners during heavy rain. Look for work to begin in the next few months and anticipate minor detours while crews are on site.

Northeast corner of NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street

Dance Party Weekend at Moto PDX

Starting this Friday Night, Moto PDX will host a weekend full of dance parties. Beginning at 9 p.m. DJ Good Things will take over the cafe at 8826 SE Stark Street, playing music from the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. The music returns Saturday night at 9 p.m. with the Disco, Funk, and Boogie sounds of the 1970s. Both evening events are limited to those 21 years old and up. Event organizers will provide an all-ages dance party on Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. All dance events are free to attend.

The Moto PDX Cafe opened last December, offering cafe dining and performance motorcycle maintenance. In the evenings, the space can transform into a nightclub for events like this weekend’s festivities. Pick your dancing day this September 23rd through the 25th, and head over to SE Stark Street for a special night out in Montavilla.

Burger Thursdays Return to White Pepper

The new owner of White Pepper recently resurrected a popular neighborhood dining event. Over the last few years, the catering company and event space at 7505 NE Glisan Street remained closed to walk-in customers. Its thriving business instead focused on cooking for weddings and hosting baby showers, keeping the crew of 22 food service staff busy during the peak summer seasons. However, feeling a need to connect with the neighborhood and wanting to reignite a tradition started by the previous owners, Abel Ley decided to bring Burger Thursdays back to his business.

White Pepper will offer Burger Thursdays through March, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the potential for other special events scattered in-between. The menu includes their Classic Burger, which is a smash burger with double patties and double cheese, topped with onions, lettuce, tomato, and mustard. The staff created the Signature White Pepper Burger to upgrade the mainstay dish. “That one we fancy up a little bit. We do a little feta aioli on there, some seared pork belly slices, and roasted tomatoes… to bring it all together,” Ley explained. The menu also contains salad, appetizers, and an alliterative to a beef burger. “We have a fried chicken sandwich that’s very good with our house-made summer squash Pickles and a white Alabama BBQ sauce,” said Ley. Diners can pair their burger with house-cut fries and an assortment of drinks. White Pepper features a full bar and sometimes collaborates with other local businesses like Threshold Brewing & Blending.

White Pepper owner Abel Ley

In 2010, Abel Ley started his career in Arizona, completing Culinary school and working all over the food service industry. After climbing up the ranks to executive sous chef in a high-end hotel, he soon desired a more creative environment with a balanced work life. After the arrival of a second child, Ley and his wife decided to relocate the family to Portland, arriving in October 2020. In an interesting turn of fate, Ley interviewed for a position at White Pepper but declined the job offer, instead pursuing another opportunity. When the catering company became available to purchase a few years later, he felt it was a business he could put his creative energies towards. “White Pepper as a company has been around for about eight years. I took over in April,” explained Ley. “It was this space that really drew me to White Pepper as a business itself. I thought there was a lot of potential with being able to connect with the neighborhood, and it’s right here on the corner, very visible. The idea that I could create any type of concept or restaurant do pop-ups and have some fun during the offseason, that was very exciting to me.”

White Pepper seats 25 to 30 people at a time. Staff served upwards of 40 people during the inaugural Burger Thursday last week. Many of those guests previously attended the weekly events before the pandemic and were ecstatic to see it return. Although walk-in food service is fun for the White Pepper staff, Ley explained that catering will always be core to their operation. “Our bread and butter is our summer weddings, and that’s basically what we focus on.” Those events, and other catering jobs, feature foods that highlight seasonal ingredients of the Northwest. However, their smoked fish offerings are what they are best know for. “One of our main sellers is our Pacific Northwest salmon that we smoke on cedar planks, and we put a little parsley pesto right on the top. A very simple, lightly smoked fish, and I think that’s a perfect example of what we do here,” said Ley.

Burger Thursdays is a fun, community-focused project where the White Pepper culinary team can break out of their catering menu. As the nights get darker and colder, people have a new dining option in a warm and vibrant space along NE Glisan Street. Make sure to visit them some Thursday evening or book the restaurant for the private gathering if burgers are not to your liking.

The Neighborhood Dumpster Day Returns

After a two-year hiatus, Montavilla’s Dumpster Day returns as part of a new Portland program. Area residents are invited to drop off bulky household items on Saturday, September 24th, at the Montavilla Church parking lot on the corner of SE 92nd Avenue and SE Hawthorne Boulevard. This free program allows residents to dispose of many large items not collected in regular curbside bins and prevents trash from ending up on the streets.

Two years ago, Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life) discontinued a similar program once offered through neighborhood associations. Those programs provided an annual opportunity for residents to dispose of mattresses, broken furniture, and other trash that did not fit into regular collection containers. The events also served as a primary fundraiser for the nonprofit neighborhood organizations. Trash haulers will collect bulky items left on the curb during weekly pickup days if residents notify them ahead of time and pay a fee. However, some people do not have the means to arrange for those collections and instead leave items on the corner with “Free” signs attached. Those items can contribute to the City’s trash problem and congest public spaces.

The absence of a free dumpster program in Portland left a noticeable mark on the City’s trash collection system, prompting officials to create a new program. This weekend’s Montavilla Dumpster Day is the first in a series of events organized by Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), with funding through the City’s Public Environment Management Office. For this event, the City will pay members of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) and the Jade District to support the Dumpster Day operations. In the future, BPS will hire contractors to run events held in other neighborhoods.

People are encouraged to bring mattresses, furniture, and certain small appliances like a toaster, vacuum, or microwave. Some treated lumber and wood stumps are accepted but need to come from households, not businesses. Tires, large appliances, electronics, and hazardous materials can’t go into the dumpsters. However, Oregon Metro staff at the drop-off site will assist people in finding the proper disposal agency for items not taken at Saturday’s event. A complete list of allowed and forbidden items is available on the BPS website.

Although a Montavilla-based event, organizers secured ample dumpsters to accept items from local residents and neighboring areas. However, space is limited, and the event staff recommends people come early. The entrance opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 1 p.m. or when the dumpsters are full.

Disclosure: The author of this article will work at this event and may receive payment for his participation.

MAX Blue Line Revitalize at 102nd

TriMet repair crews will close the MAX Blue Line this weekend between Gateway Transit Center and East 122nd Avenue. Shuttle bus service will transport MAX riders around the closure as workers revitalize tracks between the two stations and a rail crossing at East 102nd Avenue and Burnside Street. Construction will begin on September 23rd and be complete on the 26th. However, the Blue Line disruption and shuttle service will only occur during the weekend on the 24th and 25th.

Operators will adjust the MAX system during the four-day project, running all trains every 20 minutes throughout most of the day. Riders are encouraged to plan their trip ahead of time and check the trains’ location in real-time on Drivers in the area may also anticipate some disruption due to construction on the tracks. During the rail line interruption, extra TriMet staff at select stations will assist riders in making connections. Additional information about this transit disruption is available on the TriMet website.

I84 Closure at I205 Starting Sept. 23rd

TriMet construction crews will close a 1.5-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in both directions near the Interstate 205 interchange this weekend. The closure will begin on Friday night at 10 p.m. and reopen at 4 a.m. Monday morning. Additionally, barricades will block access to the NE 102nd Avenue on-ramp to I-84 west and the I-84 east Exit 7 Halsey/99nd Avenue off-ramp. This work supports the A Better Red project currently underway near the Gateway Transit Center.

The closures of I-84 will facilitate the construction of the new MAX light rail track parallel to an existing single-track segment of the Red Line. During the weekend shutdown, crews will continue building a new light rail bridge over the freeway, connecting the northern section of Portland’s Gateway Green Park and the Gateway Transit Center. Once completed, the bridge’s tracks will allow simultaneous bidirectional MAX traffic through the Gateway area, helping to alleviate bottlenecks and improve reliability across the MAX system. Crews will also install a new multi-use path to the mountain bike park alongside the new tracks. This added access route will make the recreation area more accessible to a variety of users and increase amenities in the space.

Rendering of the new Red Line bridge crossing I-84. Image courtesy TriMet

Drivers expecting to use I-84 should plan an alternate route between the evening of September 23rd and the morning of September 26th. Commuters should also anticipate more congestion than usual on I-205 as people detour around the closure. Buses will run regular service while construction takes place and offer an effective alternate travel method during the closure. While the traffic disruption will not affect transit service, some trips may take longer due to other work on the MAX Blue Line in Gresham. Additional information is available on the TriMet website.

Montavilla Apartment Complex for Sale

This month, the owners of Connery Place Apartments at 8130 SE Mill Street listed the property for sale. The 72-unit apartment complex sits in the center of a city block near SE 82nd Avenue and Mill Street. Amenities for the twelve-building site include a swimming pool, secured parking, community building, and laundry facilities. Residents access their homes through a gated parking lot behind the Sushi Yummy & Chinese Restaurant.

Developers built this large housing project in 1977. In the last 20 years, the complex sold three times. Tall Pine Properties LLC bought the site in 2005 for $2,800,000 and sold it to CH Montavilla LLC for $3,875,000 in 2012. Euclid Associates LLC purchased the apartment buildings three years later for $7,100,000. In 2017, the current owners transferred the property to a new company with similar ownership, Connery Place Partners LLC. The current asking price for the 1.79-acre development is $13,800,000.

The apartment complex contains 19 one-bedroom and 53 two-bedroom units. The property owners recently refurbished four units after a fire in one of the southeast structures. Apartments 53-56 received new windows and other updates, including a new stairway and landing. According to the seller, the owners upgraded other select units with resurfaced counters, new cabinets, vinyl plank flooring, stainless steel appliances, and stainless-steel fixtures.

Image from Portland Maps

The sale of the property could present a downside for residents. The real estate listing for the property notes that “rents are below market rates, presenting immediate investment upside.” Although the new owner is ultimately responsible for determining rate adjustments after leases expire, investor financing for this real estate purchase could require an increase in renal revenue.

Commercial real estate can take months or years to sell. Residents of the Connery Place Apartments should not anticipate an immediate change in ownership or operations at the site. However, this site has an advantage over other housing in the area. These apartments are secluded in the center of a city block, providing a uniquely isolated living environment in an otherwise busy area of the neighborhood. Interested buyers should contact HFO Investment Real Estate at 503-241-5541.

A SE Division Party on Saturday

TriMet will host a grand opening celebration for the new FX2-Division bus line this Saturday. Activities will span three festival locations in SE Portland and Gresham. Each site features entertainment, prize giveaways, and food vendors. Attendees can take unlimited free rides on the new articulated FX buses along the route between noon and 6 p.m. on September 17th. The new service begins regular operation on Sunday the 18th, offering high-capacity and fast bus service along Division Street. Montavilla residents should arrive to the event at the SE 82nd and Division stop near Portland Community College, located at 2305 SE 82nd Avenue.

Raimore Construction partnered with TriMet for this Grand Opening Celebration. The construction company is the prime contractor for TriMet’s Division Transit Project. As a minority-owned firm, this project represents the largest contract awarded to a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise in Oregon. It is a notable success for the City’s Inclusive Contracting initiatives.

Raimore Construction President Jeff Moreland speaking, TriMet Interim General Manager Sam Desue, Jr and Division Transit Project Director Michael Kiser left. April 3, 2021

TriMet posted full schedules for each event location on its website. Guests are encouraged to take the bus between each celebration site at OMSI Station, PCC Station, and the Gresham Farmers’ Market. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to a giant “paint-by-numbers” mural project. Event coordinators placed sections of the mural project at each of the three event sites. Cascade Behavioral Health building on SE 42nd and Division will host the completed public art project.

Attendees should plan a long day exploring SE Division Street and experiencing the new FX bus service. Drivers in the area should anticipate a change in bus operation beginning tomorrow as the new extended transit platforms go into service with more frequent service. Bus riders not attending the events should plan for higher than usual usage of the number 2 bus route. However, the new higher-capacity vehicles should accommodate the surge in demand.

Title images courtesy of TriMet

Disclosure: The author of this article servers on the Board for a group partnering with TriMet on this event.

Remembering Former Metro Councilor Bob Stacey

Robert E. Stacey, Montavilla’s elected representative on the Metro Council for over eight years, died September 8th at the age of 72. He resigned from his position a year ago due to further complications from a health condition. Metro Council appointed Duncan Hwang, a Director at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), to the vacant 6th District seat in January. Councilor Hwang recently secured 68.7 percent of the vote during the 2022 primaries, allowing him to serve out the reaming years of Councilor Stacey’s term.

Bob Stacey came to Metro Council after a long career serving Oregon. His early work with 1000 Friends of Oregon secured the urban growth boundary, protecting farms and forests by limiting an endless suburban sprawl. He led Portland’s planning bureau from 1989 to 1993, and as an executive at TriMet, he helped plan the MAX Yellow and Red lines. Pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the MAX Orange Line at SE 14th Avenue do so via the Bob Stacey Overcrossing, named in his honor for decades of service to Portland. Stacey’s impact across the State was impressive, and the programs he supported within this neighborhood are ongoing.

Bob Stacey’s work with Metro touched many points within Montavilla. Most residents will associate his local efforts with the affordable housing project underway at 432 NE 74th Ave. However, councilor Duncan Hwang recounted several other impactful projects that his predecessor brought to the community. “Councilor Stacey did so much for livability for the entire region but also worked directly on projects in Montavilla, including advocating for the jurisdictional transfer of 82nd Ave to the City of Portland, improving neighborhood connectivity through the Jade Montavilla Multimodal Improvements Project, and was a particular champion of the Jade District and APANO’s work in developing affordable housing and community spaces.”

Although holding an elected position, Bob Stacey focused more on his work for the community instead of building name recognition. Representative Earl Blumenauer expressed that sentiment after Stacey’s passing. “Oregon just lost the most important person that most people never heard of.” Despite the lack of public recognition for his work, those who continue his efforts recognize that they stand on his shoulders and vow to follow Stacy’s example of civic leadership. “Oregon lost a true leader, and I hope to carry on his vision for our region and legacy of public service as his successor at Metro,” stated Councilor Hwang.

Images in this article are provided by Oregon Metro

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