Category: Construction

ADA Corners and Storm Drains on SE Washington

During the month of May, commuters squeezed past road crews working on the sidewalk corners, and storm drains along SE Washington Street east of 82nd Avenue. Over the next few months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will build new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps on SE Stark and Washington Streets between SE 80th Avenue and Interstate 205. These infrastructure improvements bring street crossings along the busy roadway into compliance, improve stormwater management, and expand the pedestrian zone making people more visible to motorists.

SE Washington and 90th northwest corner

Cement masons are currently working on the corners on SE Washington Street at the intersection of SE 90th Avenue. At the same time, drainage crews are installing new grated collection boxes and connecting pipes at SE 88th Avenue. The storm drains installed along the street’s edge collect rainwater before it pools at the bottom of the ADA ramps and prevent street flooding in heavy rainstorms.

SE Washington and 90th southwest corner

The 2023 Summer construction season will have a reoccurring impact along the Stark-Washington couplet. PBOT will reconstruct many corners along both roads. Drivers should use caution while traveling, and pedestrians should expect to cross the street at times to detour around closed corners. Bicyclists should use extreme caution around construction as they may need to merge into car traffic lanes to avoid obstructions.

SE Washington and 88th southeast corner

Paving of Unimproved NE Everett Street

Update: Crews are currently leveling the road surface to add new pavement and sidewalks to an unimproved gravel section of NE Everett Street from NE 76th Avenue to NE 78th Avenue.

This article first published on June 14th, 2022

Within the next twelve months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to transform a one-block section of NE Everett Street. Crews will pave the road surface and add sidewalks to the unimproved gravel street from NE 76th Avenue to NE 78th Avenue. Improvements to this road will fill a gap in the street grid, providing a multimodal east-west connector to the new 70’s Greenway and Vestal School.

When construction begins, road crews will create a twenty-eight-foot wide paved street with a travel lane in each direction and two seven-foot wide parking lanes along each side. Contractors will build seven-foot wide curb-tight sidewalks on both sides of the street. Other nearby streets contain plantable curb strips between the sidewalk and the roadway. However, existing adjacent homes will prevent a wider pedestrian zone on this block. 

NE Everett new road design between NE 76th and 78th Avenues. Courtesy PBOT

This section of NE Everett is part of the original Mount Tabor Villa Addition platted in 1889. This section of roadway has resisted change for 133 years, unlike neighboring streets that modernized ahead of Portland’s annexation of Montavilla in 1906. Consequentially, the City never adopted this block into PBOT’s street maintenance inventory, requiring adjacent property owners to repair the road surface during those years.

This work on NE Everett Street is funded as part of the 70’s Greenway project. Traditionally, road improvements to privately maintained streets occurred through a Local Improvement District (LID) project. That would require funding from all property owners with frontage along the street. According to Hannah SchaferInterim Director of Communications for PBOT, the four lots affected by this road construction will not need to pay for the work. “The project is Federally funded, so the property owners don’t have to contribute,” explained Schafer.

NE Everett looking west from NE 78th Avenue

Although the street improvements will add value to the properties, residents will need to adjust their usage along the road’s edge. Parking alignments will need to change, and some fences will likely need to move. However, the initial disruption will make way for better infrastructure, allowing people walking and biking in the area to travel safely. Additionally, a paved street will reduce vehicle damage caused by the gravel road, and driving within the neighborhood will become more predictable. Look for project updates later this year after PBOT selects the contractor for this work.

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Six Townhomes on NE 91st

On April 26th, Provision Investments purchased the undeveloped lot at 716 NE 91st Avenue and filed paperwork to increase the lot coverage from 50 to 55.6 percent. This request will facilitate the construction of six new two-story townhomes on this site. This sloped lot remained after the previous owner developed two duplexes on the southern portion of the property. Those four homes fronted on NE Irving Street completed construction in 2019.

This property is zoned Residential Multi-Dwelling 1 (RM1), allowing a 1:1 Floor Area Ratio (FAR). It allows a maximum building coverage of 50% to incentives developments that gradually blend the characteristics of adjacent residential homes and denser multi-family housing. The total interior usable space of all the homes built here would need to total 4,900 square feet or less unless granted bonus FAR for affordability. This application represents an early proposal for development and will likely change based on the results of their adjustment to lot coverage restrictions.

Image from Portland Maps

The recent application revealed that Provision intends to create six new “townhome style residential condos” on the 50 by 100 foot lot. This language indicates the townhomes reside on a single property and will require a Home Owners Association (HOA) to manage the shared space. However, newer rules created by the Residential Infill Project could allow each home to have its own lot and obtain street access from a pathway easement. Development of this project could take six months to a year. Anticipate construction occurring in 2024.

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Three Home Infill on NE 73rd

On April 28th, NW Development Inc purchased the 1,500-square-foot single-family residence at 26 NE 73rd Avenue, and the new owner plans to construct three additional homes behind the existing 1940’s era house. Each new detached residence will stand two stories tall and contain just under 950 square feet of living space. Demolition crews will remove the freestanding single-car garage to the south of the home, allowing access to the back structures.

Owner of NW Development, Brett Barton, explained why this property was an ideal location to bring affordable middle housing to the neighborhood. “The house is in pretty good shape. It needs some updating but is overall a solid house. The prior owners took great care of it, the hardwoods are in phenomenal shape, and it hasn’t been chopped up a whole bunch of times.” The home’s placement at the front of the lot also added to this project’s viability, leaving over half the property open to development. The first new home will sit ten feet behind the original structure Facing south, and the other two houses will sit side by side at the back of the lot facing west.

Image from Portland Maps

Each new building will offer a similar floor plan with a great room, kitchen, and half-bath on the main floor. Upstairs, two bedrooms share a full bathroom and a side-by-side laundry. Each freestanding property will have its own lot without a Home Owners Association (HOA) fee, as many other similar developments previously required. “[They’ll be] sold as fee-simple ownership. There will not be condos or HOA or anything like that, and they’ll be on their own tax lots,” said Barton. He explained that Portland’s Residential Infill Project and House Bill 2001 paved the way for a more reasonable approach to this type of infill development. Before those changes, developers had to create an HOA system to manage shared access to units not adjacent to a city street. That adds monthly costs and can turn away buyers during the financing process. The new Middle Housing Land Division rules allow certain middle housing types to exist on an individual lot with separate ownership, but the lots do not require direct street access. Instead, an easement for utilities and a walkway ensure residents have the access they need to their property, even when it is behind several others.

Brett Barton explained that the driveway would remain during construction to provide equipment access to the site. However, after crews complete construction, they will rebuild the pathway to support pedestrian access to the other homes, and the driveway will not accommodate vehicle storage. “The City of Portland changed their attitude towards parking as we’ve had this housing crunch. The parking requirements have actually gone the opposite way. They’re not allowing garages on skinnier lots anymore,” said Barton. He feels that losing onsite parking and the utility of a garage can detract from a home’s functionality. Still, he accepts the tradeoff when creating homes accessible to first-time buyers. Each new home will sell below the affordable housing cap currently set at $455,000 or less. Although that Portland set cap could seem unaffordable, the program helps keep prices from spiking during high demand and can be the only way certain buyers are not priced out of good neighborhoods.

Barton said permit applications are taking over six months for approval. However, he may demolish the garage and begin upgrade work on the existing home before then. The 1948-built house will receive new paint, heating and cooling system upgrades, and full kitchen and bath modernization. Expect to see crews start that work in the coming months and construction of the new homes towards the end of 2023.

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Dispensary Work Improving Pedestrian Realm

Cement masons are currently reconstructing and improving the sidewalk around the nearly 100-year-old retail building at 6834 NE Glisan Street. This work will increase the sidewalk corner, extending the curb’s edge into the parking lane and shortening the crosswalk distance across NE Glisan Street. The infrastructure enhancements are part of a multi-year tenant improvement project for Green Front Dispensary and should create a safer pedestrian realm.

In 2021, Green Front Dispensary began work on hardening the building’s security and providing other internal upgrades to the space. The permits call for the installation of a reinforced cinderblock storage vault and bullet-resistant walls around the cashiers. It also created a new entry vestibule, limiting direct access to the main sales floor. These security measures speak to the constant threat to employees working in a cash-only business. Workers at other dispensaries have died during robberies, and many marijuana businesses have looked for ways to protect staff by implementing security designs pioneered in the banking industry.

The high cost of these internal updates has an external community benefit. When a permit’s valuation is thirty-five percent or more of the assessed value of improvements on a site, the property owner is required to make updates to the public right-of-way if the infrastructure is not currently meeting city standards. The sidewalks surrounding the building lacked ADA-compliant curb ramps and had substandard curbs. 

This reconstruction project will create sidewalks that offer the high level of safety and accessibility that the city now requires, along with enhanced aesthetics. Earlier plans for this sidewalk segment showed four street trees distributed around the building. The current layout only offers two large tree wells for the existing juvenile trees planted previously. Regardless of lower tree density, these sidewalk updates should enhance the area for customers and the general public. Depending on the weather, look for the sidewalk to reopen in the following weeks.

Green Front’s sidewalks prior to construction project

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Prolonged MAX Train Disruption

Starting Sunday, April 16th, TriMet will temporarily close four MAX stations between the Gateway Transit Center and NE 7th Avenue. The light rail disruption will last through Saturday, May 6th, requiring riders to use shuttle buses for transit connections. The 21-day construction window facilitates track tie-in work near the Gateway Transit Center for the A Better Red MAX line extension and maintenance work near the Hollywood Transit Center, replacing rail and ties. TriMet staff suggests travelers plan any trip through this section in advance, as bus lines could see an increase in ridership as people take alternate routes to their destinations.

The station closures affect all MAX Blue, Green, and Red line trains. However, shuttle buses will run every five to seven minutes for Blue Line riders. MAX Green Line trains will only run between Gateway Transit Center and Clackamas Town Center. MAX Red Line trains will only run between Gateway Transit Center and Portland International Airport, with no service west of Gateway Transit Center. TriMet asks people to use MAX Orange or Blue Line routes for trips west of the NE 7th Avenue Station. Orange and Yellow Line trains will travel uninterrupted with regular service.

TriMet provided map of shuttle bus service from April 16th through May 6th

TriMet’s, A Better Red project began construction in September 2021 and is set to complete in fall 2024. Work on the commuter rail system extends the MAX Red Line west to serve ten more stations in Beaverton and Hillsboro. The project also improves schedule reliability for the entire MAX system by adding a second track near Portland International Airport and Gateway Transit Center. A new bridge spanning Interstate 84 at Gateway is required to support a second track and will provide a multimodal access point to the north end of the Gateway Green off-road cycling park. Prolonged disruptions to public transit are a burden for regular riders, but these improvements should help speed up routes and make for a more reliable system.

TriMet provided video about work occurring this month

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New Mt Tabor Roadway and Path

Last week, road crews reopened a freshly paved and curbed two-block segment of SE 64th Avenue next to the Mt. Tabor Maintenance Facility. This work builds the base infrastructure for a new multi-use pedestrian and bike path from SE Division Street to the southwest corner of Mt. Tabor Park. The street improvements and path are the only publicly accessible portion of the Mt. Tabor Central Maintenance Yard Project currently under construction.

Later this summer, cement masons and landscapers will create 500 feet of multimodal pathway between SE 64th Avenue at Sherman Street and SE Division Street. When opened, this pathway will provide a much-needed shortcut to the public recreation space for those living south of the park. However, the new rainwater management on this street will also improve conditions. An array of unlined stormwater planters will collect and absorb rainfall as it runs downhill, with overflow captured by the city’s underground system. Water runoff from Mt Tabor is significant, and this update will fight erosion on this sloped topography. Unfortunately, the project did not create sidewalks on the west edge of SE 64th Avenue, and the asphalt surface ends in a gravel shoulder.

PP&R site plan

Over a year ago, crews began construction at the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) property to modernize the central maintenance facility at Mt Tabor Park. The improvements stemmed from a 2014 patchwork of funding that implemented plans from 2009. The Mt Tabor Yard is the primary dispatch point for PP&R maintenance and nursery services across Portland, with over 140 maintenance employees working from this location. The street improvements and pathway are minor compared to the overall project but will immediately impact park access. Once the new maintenance yard is fully operational, city crews should be more efficient in their efforts to keep the park system functioning.

PP&R illustration from the Mt Tabor Central Maintenance Yard & Nursery Master Plan

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Common-wall Pair on NE Everett

Work is underway on two common-wall homes at NE 90th Avenue and Everett Street, each with an attached Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). The residences feature unique floor plans with a split-level layout over three floors. A single-car garage and driveway in front of each house offer some onsite parking for the residents.

Unlike many common-wall developments, 8955 NE Everett Street and 8957 NE Everett Street do not share a similar floor plan, although they have roughly the same features. The garage and entryway are at grade level, and the owner’s suites sit above. Those large bedrooms feature tray ceilings, double vanity ensuite bathrooms, and walk-in closets. A short flight of stairs leads up from the entryway to the open-floor-plan main level that stands six feet above the ground floor in the back half of the building. Stairs leading up to the top floor have a mid-rise platform allowing access to the owner’s suite. Two bedrooms and a full bathroom occupy the uppermost level of both homes. One unit has a full laundry room, while the other offers a side-by-side laundry closet.

Side view of foundation showing entrance retaining wall for 8957 NE Everett Streets ADU

Below both houses are daylight basement ADUs, built only two and a half feet below grade. These one-bedroom units have a stacked laundry closet, a full bathroom, and a single-wall kitchen. With most of the ADU unit’s walls above ground, they support many full-sized windows that should offer natural light. Discrete ADU side entrances should give those tenets privacy and autonomy from the residents above. The architect’s placement of large back decks six and a half feet above the backyard, and staggered from north to south, also adds to the separation of living space.

The architect on this project, Thogerson Designs, has drawn from mid-20th century inspirations while using modern shifting of design elements to break up the building’s massing. The common-wall structure will share a cohesive appearance but still clearly define each residence. The number of stairs residents must traverse in a day is perhaps the only detractor from the chosen layout. Otherwise, it offers a creative way to blend housing density into a traditionally single-family area of Montavilla.

View into the front of the homes looking north

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Lane Closures on NE 82nd and Glisan Bring New Sidewalks

Work on the Jacksons convenience store and gas station at 515 NE 82nd Avenue closed one lane on NE 82nd Avenue and NE Glisan Street as crews construct new sidewalks around two sides of the 40,250 square foot property. Construction of the new fueling station pumps and retail building is nearing completion, and now cement masons will build wider walkways around the site. The southbound TriMet 72 bus stop in front of the property is closed during this phase of the project. Riders can use the temporary stop across NE Glisan Street by Washman Auto Spa.

Over the following weeks, one southbound lane of NE 82nd Avenue and one westbound lane of NE Glisan Street are closed to traffic near the property. Sidewalks detour pedestrians onto the roadway to bypass the construction. However, until workers complete the new walkway, it is recommended that people use the opposite sidewalks while walking in this area. In addition to the expanded sidewalks with fewer curb cuts to navigate, pedestrians will soon have a corner public plaza to rest at.

Site Plan as presented to the Montavilla Neighborhood Association by PM Design Group, courtesy Jacksons.

This location will soon become safer for people thanks to an expanded pedestrian realm and a reduction in places where a vehicle crosses the sidewalk. Developers reduced curb cuts into this area in half, taking six entry points down to three and pushing them away from the corner crosswalk zone. The project designers also relocated the convenience store closer to the sidewalk so shoppers not traveling by car can have safe entry. Expect construction to continue into summer, with a store opening date later this year.

TriMet 72 bus stop temporary relocated on the south side of NE Glisan in front of Washman

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SE 83rd 30 Unit Apartment Complex

McGuirl Designs & Architecture recently announced plans to create a 30-unit apartment complex at 33 SE 83rd Avenue. The two-building development will replace an existing single-family residence and an adjacent empty lot with three floors of housing. Both buildings will support nine two-bedroom and six one-bedroom units evenly dispersed on each level. Residents will access apartments on the upper floors through exterior stairwells that lead to a central walkway between the structures.

Two-story home to be demolished if development proceeds

The layout and scope of this 19,284-square-foot project could change significantly before work begins. In 2018, the previous owners of this property proposed an eight-unit apartment building. During that early development work, demolition crews removed a detached storage structure from the now vacant lot. That project did not succeed, and in the summer of 2020, Montavilla Green LLC bought the home with the undeveloped parcel. The new owners have not yet submitted demolition permits for the 1946-era home or building permits for the two new multi-family buildings. However, the architect has made the required notice to the neighborhood association, indicating there is momentum behind this proposal.

Portland Maps image with MV News illustration

This property is next to and behind commercial properties in a Commercial Mixed Use 2 zone that promotes this type of development. The site is close to the intersection of 82nd Avenue and Burnside Street, making it an ideal location for public transit users. It will also provide protected bike parking for residents who want to use that mode of transportation. This development will contain inclusionary housing units as required in projects with more than 19 units. Look for the developer to submit building permits later this year, with work likely beginning in 2024 or later.

Empty lot where detached garage once stood

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the board of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association.

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