Category: History

Change of Ownership at Bipartisan

This week, the original owners of the Bipartisan Cafe sold the 18-year-old landmark shop to their former employee Josh Pangelinan. Hobie Bender and Peter Emerson opened the coffee house and pie spot at 7901 SE Stark Street on January 18th, 2005. The corner eatery helped launch the century-old downtown main street’s resurrection, defining Montavilla, and has served as the community’s living room for nearly two decades.

Bender and Emerson opened Bipartisan Cafe after Peter Emerson decided to cash out his stock option at Starbucks and leave the company. Both were 45 years old, and their two children were not yet teenagers. This sudden career change allowed Emerson to pursue a longtime obsession with creating communal spaces. “I am always creating restaurants in my head, ” said Emerson. “I actually explored opening [the cafe] about five years before when I was not happy working for Starbucks.” However, he kept his corporate job until his manager noted Emerson’s workplace disinterest in a performance review. “So I gave my notice and started looking around,” recalled Emerson. The partners considered purchasing an existing business but decided to create something new in an untapped market instead.

In the early 2000s, Montavilla lacked the definition as a neighborhood and was not the destination it has today. “If somebody told me I’m in Montavilla, I would say ‘where’s that?’ but it reminded me a little bit of a small town, which I’m from,” recalled Emerson. They found a rough space on the corner of SE 79th and Stark that had potential. “It was ugly, [but] I can work with it,” he recalled thinking while touring the storefront. When they tore out decades of tenant upgrades, the partners discovered that the building retained its 100-year-old charm below the surface. Under the fake stone facade hid the original undamaged transom windows. Walls and a drop ceiling covered thin-plank interior cladding, and the hardwood floors extended the length of the space, intact but worn with years of use. Emerson recalled it was just the look he imagined for his creation. “I wanted it to look like an old Grange hall, a community-type place.”

When the Bipartisan Cafe opened, it joined a handful of existing restaurants, bars, and shops. “There were some anchor businesses, but there was not much traffic,” said Emerson. However, even during construction, people expressed excitement over the new addition to their neighborhood that needed more walkable resources. “A lot of people had just moved in [to the area], and we didn’t have a coffee shop,” explained Emerson. That excitement translated into a strong launch that almost lost its momentum. “The first year went pretty good, and then I didn’t realize that December and January we’re going to be really slow. I panicked and thought we were going under, but it picked up stronger than ever mid-January, and it’s been a kind of a cycle like that since.” Press coverage of the new shop drove some traffic, but an article about Hobie Bender’s pies put the cafe on the map and brought people into the neighborhood from all over Portland.

The local customer base was stable, but significant growth required media exposure to bring people from outside the neighborhood. “We did the interview for that in May and forgot about it,” remembers Emerson. By summer, when the publication printed the article, the partners were unaware that their business’s trajectory would soon change. “We didn’t even know it was coming out, and we got slammed. Since then, pie has been what made us [known] citywide,” said Emerson.

Initially, the partners planned for Peter Emerson to run the shop, with Bender providing occasional support. She was enrolled in classes and on a different career path but still wanted to support the family cafe. “I foolishly thought, ‘Oh, I can make that work on my own,’ but she was helping right when we opened the doors, and by the end of the year, she was full-time,” recalled Emerson. Bender stopped going to school and took an equal role in developing the cafe. “I felt a little guilty about that for a while, but she has reassured me many times that she’s glad we did this,” confessed Emerson.

Hobie Bender’s daily participation in the Bipartisan Cafe helped the young business get off the ground, but her more influential contribution came from Bender’s multigenerational pie-making expertise. Growing up in Southern Oregon, she honed her baking skills in the one-time family business, but not through familial guidance. “Her mom owned a pie shop, Pies by George Ann, and Hobie worked in it as a teenager, but her mom wouldn’t teach her how to make pies because she never wanted Hobie to do it for a living.” However, when the business sold, the new owners kept Bender on and taught her the family recipes as an employee. Decades later, those renowned dishes became the core of the cafe’s success despite the efforts of Bender’s mother. “Those are the pies that we have here, and when her mom found out that we were gonna serve pies… she was not happy with me,” recalled Emerson.

Emerson noted that pies were not a popular item among the younger patrons when the cafe opened. In 2005, few places specialized in the dish, with most restaurants offering commercially baked varieties. After the article recognized their baking talents, a segment of the population that longed for a classic fresh pie began making the trek out to Montavilla. “When they said something about our pies, all of a sudden, we’re getting people from all over the city, and they were all older,” said Emerson. That buzz about their pies and coffee spread across generation lines, bringing even more people to the shop and neighborhood. As the Bipartisan’s reputation grew, adjacent storefronts became main street destinations again with customer-facing tenants.

Even as businesses opened around them, the Bipartisan Cafe remained a common destination for all residents, just as Peter Emerson intended. “I come from a small town where there is a space you go to, and on certain events, the whole town is there.” That meeting hall idea themed the space as an all-welcoming place for the community. Emerson’s family had a long history of political involvement and civic engagement, contributing to the cafe’s name. However, the obsession with collecting political memorabilia came after the doors opened, starting with four big posters. “Somebody gave me Eisenhower, and I think I had Kennedy, Johnson, and Lincoln. At some point, somebody came in and said, ‘I notice you have only Democrats on the wall.’ And I said, ‘well, Lincoln is on the wall.’ but I [thought] I should have a representative of all presidents.” That eventually led Emerson to eBay, and then he was hooked. Over the 18 years, he has packed the shop with articles of American political history. All but a few items will stay with the shop as part of the sale. Peter Emerson will take his father’s name placard and two figurines representing his dad. Hobie Bender will keep a sign’s letter “H” that Emerson liberated from an old hotel marquee.

Until a few years ago, selling the business was not part of the owners’ plan. “I thought I was going to work here until I die, and I was beginning to hand it over to my kids in early 2020.” Then the pandemic hit, causing the cafe business to struggle through all of 2020, extending into 2021 and beyond. A community fundraiser kept the cafe open with significant contributions from Mr. Plywood and loyal customers. “2020 to now has been hard. We had to reinvent every six months, and at some point, I just felt like I don’t have the energy that this place needs and deserves.” Bender and Emerson’s kids decided not to take on the tumultuous life of working in food service, leaving their parents to consider the future. A year ago, they started shopping the idea of a sale, but they had high standards for any buyer.

Josh Pangelinan worked at the cafe for eight years and kept tangentially involved as a coffee distributer’s rep. Once he expressed an interest in buying the shop, Emerson explained there was no other reason to keep looking. “He knows what the Bipartisan Cafe is. He knows what Montavilla is. He knows how they go together, and he’s going to keep that.” Not only will Pangelinan’s personal history with the cafe maintain continuity for customers, but his hands-on involvement will support the staff from a place of experience. Peter Emerson will work for the next 60 days making sure everything transitions smoothly, and then take a summer vacation before looking for his next adventure. Hobie Bender will come in as needed.

Peter Emerson looks back on the years at the cafe with a sense of success. Together with Bender, they created exactly the space he wanted to build, a small town community space in the heart of a city. A room where people gathered for the exhilaration of the 2008 election and the deflated hopes of the 2016 election. The place where people formed the farmer’s market and local business association. He is excited to see what the new owner will bring to the space, and he will still come in occasionally, but mainly as a customer interacting with his community. “All my friends are from the cafe, and I’ve got some great friends,” remarked Emerson.

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SE Yamhill Sinkhole

SE Yamhill Street is closed from SE 76th Avenue to SE 73rd Avenue due to a sinkhole. People began reporting the collapse of the road surface on Friday, May 12th. The sidewalks remain open to pedestrians. A significant section of the street is fenced off to keep people away from the unsafe area.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), the hole is approximately 10 feet deep and 30 feet across, although the open aperture of the void and visible bottom appear less than reported. However, similar to an iceberg, the perceptible danger of a sinkhole can be smaller than the danger below the surface. PBOT cautions people to stay behind the protective barricades until crews can repair the roadway.

This section on SE Yamhill Street began as a dirt road between two farms, as visible in a photograph from 1906. The road’s incline was so steep in this section of Yamhill that the Mount Tabor Street Car line Diverted to SE Taylor Street to bypass it. Current public transportation, however, continues to use Yamhill. Due to the sinkhole, the TriMet number 15 bus line will skip eastbound service at SE Yamhill & 73rd (Stop ID 6445) and SE Yamhill & 76th (Stop ID 6447). Drivers are also bypassing stops for westbound riders at SE Yamhill & 73rd (Stop ID 6446) and SE Yamhill & 71st (Stop ID 6444).

PBOT asks drivers and cyclists to find alternate routes, and TriMet requests bus riders adjust the stops they intend to use. Expect to see PBOT workers address this issue soon. However, the underlying street structure could require extensive repair.

Yamhill Street at 71st looking East. Photo by Karl J Straub, 1906.

About Karl J Straub, believed to be the photographer of the 1906 Yamhill image. – Born around 1882 in Oklahoma, Straub relocated to Portland before the turn of the last century. In the last hours of 1902, Straub is recognized as an officer of the Carnation Social Club, celebrating New Year’s at Burkhard Hall. In January 1908, he married Catherine Stopper. He and his wife lived at 1973 East Main Street (Currently addressed as 1228 SE 78th Avenue) according to the Sunday Oregonian birth announcement section on December 29th, 1912. According to the Morning Oregonian, a son soon followed on May 27th, 1914. By 1940 he had moved to 1340 SE 88th Avenue, a home later owned by his daughter Clara Straub through the1960s.

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Art Explores Local Japanese American History

This Friday, May 5th, people are invited to attend the Furin Project Symposium at Portland Community College’s (PCC) SE Campus. Attendees will see the culmination of a year-long community art project led by artist Midori Hirose and learn more about a project that aims to bridge the Japanese farming history of Southeast Portland with its modern diversity and culture. Since early April, PCC has exhibited a collection of Furin, Japanese “wind bells,” made during free ceramic bell-making workshops. Now, the community can explore three related exhibits, including the work from PCC’s Geographic Information System Club, a Sound Map project, and the Furin wind bells display.

In collaboration with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and Mural Arts Institute in Philadelphia, Midori Hirose’s Furin Project involves honoring the history and legacy of the Japanese American Farming community that once thrived in Montavilla and surrounding area. The project centers on the intersection of the current social landscape in relation to food resilience, farming, and green spaces.

People interested in participating should register to save a free spot at the event. Attendees should gather before 4 p.m. near the Learning Garden at 2305 SE 82nd Avenue and then take part in the short walking tour. The event coordinators have created several stopping points for speakers to present, leading up to the Furin exhibit inside the Student Commons building. APANO will host a potluck in their building across SE Division from the PCC campus to wrap up the event.

Graphics provided by APANO and the Furin Project

Tub and Tan Building for Sale

On January 4th, Tub and Tan closed its doors after failing to resolve a conflict with the property management company Dinihanian LLC. On March 28th, Tub and Tan’s owner abandoned reopening plans and announced online that he could not continue operations under current conditions. Now, the building’s owners have the 5,000-square-foot property listed for sale. The adjacent 5,488-square-foot property behind the store contains a portion of the hot tub rooms and may also become available for purchase at a later date.

In 1940, C. Lews began construction on the building at 8028 SE Stark Street to house a tile store. In 1964, Executive Barber College opened in this location with upwards of 20 barber stations. It served several other businesses throughout the years before becoming a hot tubbing location in the 1990s. After nearly 30 years, it may soon see redevelopment for a new use. However, the real estate listing for the property indicates that functional sauna and hot tub equipment remain on-site for a potential turnkey business. Still, only some of the facility is for sale because the tubbing company spanned two properties. 8025 SE Washington Street, along with Tub and Tan, are owned by John Captain III. The SE Washington property contains the outdoor hot tub rooms for the now-closed business. In a Facebook comment, Captain mentioned trying to reopen from the other property, but later social media posts indicate a diminished interest in continuing the business.

This Stark Street storefront is located in Historic Down Town Montavilla, where commercial properties rarely change hands and tend to sell quickly. People interested in purchasing the building can contact Jason VanAbrams with Marcus & Millichap by calling 503-200-2027 or emailing the agent.

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Spencers Appliances Closing after 4 Decades

Spencer’s Appliances at 7115 NE Glisan Street will permanently close its doors on February 1st after forty years of serving the community. The new and used appliance store’s owner plans to retire, renting out the three commercial buildings on NE Glisan Street to the next generation of businesses. Several employees have formed a new company and will open their appliance repair store later in the year.

Eugene Spencer started Spencer’s Appliances with his son in the early1980s after retiring from the military as a refrigeration specialist. “I started with my father, Eugene, in 82. He was doing stuff out of his house because he retired from the Navy, and he just started tinkering around keeping himself busy,” remembered John Spencer. “I was working at a seed mill in Tangent, OR. I went to college for a couple of years, and college wasn’t for me. Then my dad called me and said you want a job? Come up here and work for me.”

Ben Schafer, the owner of Cash and Carry Appliances on NE Glisan, wanted to relocate his 30-year-old business to SE Hawthorne, allowing the Spencers to set up shop in an established location. “There was a pre-existing appliance business here, and the guy wanted to move to a bigger building. So we bought this building,” explained John Spencer. “This was a good location, and we had people walk in the first day and buy an appliance from us because it was an appliance business before.”

That early success gave the Spencers confidence, particularly John, who at 21 was new to the business. “I still remember going, ‘Holy crap,’ there’s people in here buying stuff. I didn’t know anything, and then we started fixing appliances and selling them. We eventually got a GE dealership. It just took off from there.” Said John Spencer. After growing the business together, the father and son team added an employee. “It just slowly but surely got busier and busier, and then we hired Wes.” Wes Swisher had also retired from the Navy and knew Eugene Spencer. According to John Spencer, Wes was instrumental in the growth of Spencer’s Appliances. The business continued to expand year after year, eventually employing 20 people.

By 1984, the appliance shop outgrew the original storefront at 7123 NE Glisan, so they constructed the current showroom next door. In 2000, the company completed a new warehouse building at the corner of NE 71st Avenue and Glisan Street. Both newer buildings support apartments on a second floor above the commercial space, creating six units. The Spencers eventually bought the land one block east, building the Glisan Plaza at 7201 NE Glisan Street.

Twenty years ago, Eugene Spencer stepped away from the appliance business, leaving John in charge. “He was a great boss. We worked six days a week for 20 years, and then he retired,” recalls John Spencer. In 2012, Wes Swisher also retired. Both are healthy and enjoying their time away from work. Around the time Swisher left, John Spencer became concerned about Glisan Street. Car thieves have repeatedly stolen his service vehicles, and miscreants often vandalized the buildings. In 2019, a driver collided with his store and fled the scene. John Spencer enjoys the new families that have moved to the neighborhood and the business taking root around his shop but seeing the negative shift along his street is disappointing. “I think it is the worst I’ve seen it, the crime that you see walking up and down the street.” Said, Spencer. The shift in public safety and labor issue stemming from the pandemic have encouraged John Spencer to retire from the business. After searching for a buyer interested in running the store for seven months, he and his family decided it was better to shut down the company.

John Spencer will miss the daily interactions that have made his career enjoyable. “It’s all about the people. I just like meeting neighbors and talking to people. It was my social time. You go into people’s homes and learn things from their experiences in life. 90% of the people you deal with are just beautiful, down-to-earth people.” Spencer will also miss solving problems for customers. He takes pride in fixing someones vexing appliance problem and seeing the relief it gives people.

John Spencer is happy with the company his family built in Montavilla and the impact they have made on the lives of those who worked there. “It kept my family fed, and I think I’ve created a lot of jobs. I’ve got ex-employees that still do appliance stuff. There’s people that have found a career because they walked in the door one day looking for a job,” explained Spencer. “It’s been a wild ride.”

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Low-Carbon Architecture Firm Opens Glisan Office

After a multi-year renovation of the Art Deco office at 7631 NE Glisan StreetHarka Architecture has fully relocated to its new home. Renovation work on this compact building rescued a Montavilla architectural icon and created a functional showpiece for low-carbon construction. Harka’s founder, Patrick Donaldson, purchased this property for his architectural firm in 2019 after his sublease ended. The onset of the pandemic disrupted the plans for a quick remodel and removed the pressure to move offices as commercial space became abundant. Over the last two years, the project’s scope shifted to a methodical renovation incorporating various environmentally healthy building techniques representing the core of what Harka offers its clients.

Donaldson, who lives in the area and sometimes commutes past this building, did not envision buying this property. Even as he searched for new office space, the for sale sign in the window almost went ignored. However, something about this distinct structure captured his attention. “I kept driving, and then maybe four blocks later, I turned around and came back and wrote down the number,” Explained Donaldson. Even then, he was unsure but decided to investigate the space further. “Looking around, it turns out the shipping container that’s back here, the guy who owned it was in there, and I’m pretty sure that had I not walked up at that moment and him being there, I don’t think I would have gotten it.” The seller admitted to ignoring calls to buy the property unless the person tried at least three or four times. “That’s a strange way to way to go about things, but he was in there, and so I actually made a kind of a physical connection with him. So we ended up negotiating, and I purchased it.” Said Donaldson.

Harka Architecture‘s conference room featuring a moss wall inspired by Portland topography

Once crews began the renovation project, Donaldson and his team realized they would need to take it down to the studs and reshape the building. “I never really intended to do what we did, and then once I started kind of working on it… you start to pull the string, and you know how it goes,” remarked Donaldson. He always intended to incorporate sustainability and low-carbon designs that reduce toxicity. However, each project bumped into the constraints of the 1940 construction, and they had to make significant changes. “We made the building taller because it had a two-by-four roof [and] didn’t have a parapet, so it wouldn’t waterproof well. With a two-by-four ceiling, we’d be forced to use foam insulation, which has high embodied carbon and is filled with fire retardants.” To avoid that, they built a roof with two-by-six lumber and 14-inch engineered trusses that accommodated 13 inches of cellulose insulation. The process also changed the building’s outward appearance. “It gave it more of an overhang in the back, and then again, it’s 18 inches taller, so it has a little bit more of a profile than it had before,” said Donaldson.

With the first substantial upgrade underway, it became apparent that the building needed additional work, and keeping to the budget was already a lost cause. “We should upgrade here, we should upgrade there, and then it was like we should just make an example of this, right?” remembered Donaldson. From that point on, he and his team set out to incorporate all types of low-carbon and recycled materials into the project with the goal of making a usable showcase featuring what Harka offers its clients. “We tried to use edgier products to test them out, and so right when you walked in at the entry, there’s a little window in the ceiling that shows off the hemp [wool insulation],” explained Donaldson as he pointed to details through the space. In many places, they repurposed lumber, even salvaging lath from the walls for the paneling in the bathroom.

By tearing into the building, Donaldson’s team discovered pieces of the building’s history. It began as a dentist’s office for Herbert E. Craner, who practiced in this building for seventeen years. When he died in 1957, his son Eugene took over the business. The floors bore the marks of the heavy dental equipment once bolted down. However, the bolt holes suggested that the detail chairs were placed in the front windows, confounding the crew until they received a guest. “Some woman out [front] was taking pictures. She ended up being the daughter-in-law of Craner, who are the original [owners], and her husband grew up in here in that little side room.” Craner’s daughter-in-law described the office as configured similar to a barber’s shop, with people receiving treatment in front of the passing public looking in the front windows. “You had the chair right in the window, and people watched you get your teeth worked on. That was a thing to show off the skills of the dentist,” remarked Donaldson with surprise.

Plumbing permit found in the wall during renovations

Later in the building’s life, it housed a pizza restaurant that contributed layers of grease and hid patched-over window openings. “I believe the original building was all plywood, and then at some point, they plastered the bottom three quarters with stucco. Actually, there’s two layers of stucco on it because I think when they turned it into a pizza shop, they covered up a bunch of windows. Then they ended up just putting another layer of stucco over everything,” described Donaldson. The top portion of the building features new stucco separated by three aluminum bands wrapping around the top of the building. The old wall cladding remains in place, but that poses a problem. Creating an efficient low-carbon building involves sealing air leakage and insulating the structure to reduce energy usage. However, in this building, the outside walls were already in place. So the vapor sealing and insulation needed to occur on the interior side of the walls. First, they used an AeroBarrier treatment to plug holes in the existing walls. “They come in, and they pressurize the interior of the space, and they start spraying a non-toxic rubber cement. It goes and finds all the holes and fills them up,” explained Donaldson. “Then we put dense pack cellulose in there. That’s all fluffy, so you put netting on the wall, and then you put a hose in there, and you pack it in there tight.” They then finished the insulation work with GUTEX, a carbon-negative wood fiberboard. Once again, the product behind the wall is on display through a glass window. This time the glass doubles as a whiteboard in the conference room.

Back wall showing GUTEX wood fiberboard behind the siding

According to Donaldson, contractors often use the wood fiberboard on the exterior of a building. “It’s designed to be actually on the outside of a building. It would go on the outside over the plywood before you put your siding on. We put it on the inside here because we had the stucco. So it’s everywhere on all these walls except this back wall which didn’t have stucco on it. The back wall also functions as a demonstration of the siding product. Instead of having overlapping cladding, the exterior boards have constant gaps. This installation shows off the GUTEX product and proves that it is protecting the structure and that the siding is just a rain screen.

Not all products chosen for the project proved effective. The magnesium oxide panels used in place of traditional drywall did not hold up well, and cracks at the seams are showing in some areas. Donaldson will not recommend the product to clients. Instead, lightweight sheetrock is a better choice, with half the carbon impact as traditional gypsum board. Suggesting products and educating clients on low-carbon/low-toxin living makes Harka Architecture a unique firm. Donaldson foresaw a need for environmentally conscious buildings and believed that carbon impact would be the best measure for that work. As the discipline became more formal, tools have developed to help architects select products and features in buildings that make a substantial impact when reducing carbon. 

Patrick Donaldson by one of his gates made from repurposed material

Donaldson’s team uses data and product knowledge to refocus people’s good intentions toward activities that substantially make a difference in the environment. Every product used in construction has the potential to generate substantial amounts of embodied carbon, the amount of carbon-producing energy consumed during manufacturing. Some foam sealing products use so much electricity in production that they will never prevent the same energy leakage in a home they consumed during creation. Donaldson explained how understanding the entire life cycle of a product can substantially alter the carbon reduction equations people make. “Everyone is worried about plastics and recycling. Forget about that your steak is wrapped in plastic. It’s the steak that’s the problem, not the plastic.”

Harka Architecture works on various residential and commercial projects as well as consulting on low-carbon approaches to living and building. They assist with upgrades to existing structures and new construction. Interested developers or homeowners should contact Harka Architecture for more information.

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1909 Storefront for Sale on NE Glisan

The corner commercial property at 7341 NE Glisan Street is for sale. Since 1909, this 1,728-square-foot single-story structure has housed many grocery stores. Although changing hands often, the shop continued to sell food for 40 years. In those early days, most business operators lived on the property in attached housing. Based on the real estate listing, it has continued its tradition as a live/work environment and retained its attached living quarters.

Images Yeast brothers from the Oregonian of December 29, 1918

When constructed, the storefront had an address of 1877 East Glisan. An early proprietor of the property was J.S. Yeast, according to the Oregonian of December 29th, 1918. That publication’s WWI coverage recounted the story of the Yeast brother’s reunion in France on Armistice Day. The article noted that Ray and Ralph Yeast’s father lived at the Glisan Street storefront. In 1920, an ad identified C.D. Hageman as the grocery store owner. That Blue Ribbon Soda Wafers advertisement in the Oregon daily journal of August 20th lists the Glisan street grocery as a participating location for a toy airplane giveaway.

Ad from The Oregon daily journal of August 20th, 1920

In the 1930s, the store became the Evergreen Cash Grocery, and the location changed its address to 7341 NE Glisan Street following the great renumbering of Portland. In more recent history, this location served as the office for Bill Lawhorn Construction.

The 113-year-old building is available for $335,000, with some alternative financing options available. The buyer can finish an in-progress remodel or redevelop the site with a mixed-use building up to a four-stories tall. The current owner began renovating a one-bedroom apartment behind the office. The front area is move-in ready with a half bath, and the unfinished apartment features a completed full bathroom. The property includes two off-street parking spaces accessed from NE 74th Avenue. Interested buyers should contact the listing agent by phone at 503-288-3979 or by email.

Sanborn Map 1924

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Massive I84 and 82nd Ave Property for Sale

An acre of Commercial Mixed Use real estate at 1411 NE 82nd Avenue recently became available on Montavilla’s northern edge. The lot, adjacent to Interstate 84, is the current home to Eastern Cathay restaurant and is the former birthplace of the Elmer’s Pancake House franchise.

The listing agent, Adrian Chu of Specialty Real Estate Group, is positioning this property as a “developer’s dream.” The parcel sits at the intersection of a freeway, 82nd Avenue, NE Halsey, and the TriMet MAX Light Rail system. The site is underdeveloped, with only a single 4,500-square-foot restaurant building at its center, surrounded by more parking than guests could fill. If redeveloped, residents could quickly travel to any destination from this location with numerous transportation options, and retail on the ground floor would have access to hundreds of daily commuters.

Courtesy Danna brothers and Midcounty Memo

This site was born out of the I-84 expansion, having been leveled during the widening of Sullivan’s Gulch. The 1950’s era civil engineering project required the demolition of the McCarthy & Danna Food Center that had formerly occupied the land over the freeway where NE Halsey connected to NE 82nd Avenue. The store’s operator, Salvatore “Sam” G. Danna, intended to rebuild the grocery store on the remaining property not taken by the freeway project. However, a restaurateur suggested a different use for the vacant lot. In 1960, Danna constructed the first Elmer’s Colonial House of Pancakes restaurant on this site for Walt and Dorothy Elmer. Opening in 1961, this breakfast-focused restaurant began what would become a Northwest business empire spanning multiple states. However, this location closed after the customer base shifted to other areas.

Sanborn Map 1924 showing McCarthy & Danna Food Center location

In October 2008, Rong Liang Mei bought the property and restaurant. Having already started two successful restaurants, the new owner quickly converted this location to Eastern Cathay. The business is available as part of a sale or will shut down after the deal finalizes. At $3 million, this property may stay on the market for a while. However, its size and location make it a tempting acquisition for a developer or government buyer.

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SE Yamhill Vacant Lot for Sale

The new owners of a vacant lot east of 8505 SE Yamhill Street recently placed it on the market after selling the neighboring single-family residence. Ground Breakers Construction & Development purchased the 1923-era home and lot in April of 2022, reselling the home two months later.

2115 E Yamhill Sanborn Map 1928

The vacant lot once held a five-room “modern bungalow” built in the early 1900s. The one-and-a-half-story home had the address of 2115 E. Yamhill Street. The first record of the property appears in the Morning Oregonian of December 12th, 1912. This advertisement asks for a $200 downpayment for the home located one block from the Mt. Tabor streetcar line. Four years later, the home’s inhabitant J. A. Orchard, listed his Victrola and records for sale in The Oregon daily journal on June 22nd, 1916. By 1919, the Morning Oregonian of August 11th shows the property for sale again. Later that year, a marriage license by J. R. Moffatt at this address was printed in The Oregon daily journal on November 29th, 1919. Through the early 1920s, J. A. Orchard continued using 2115 E. Yamhill Street as his home address. The demolition date for the house is unknown, but at some point, the land merged with 8505 SE Yamhill Street.

Now that Ground Breakers Construction & Development separated these two properties into the original parcels, this lot will again serve the needs of Montavilla residents, providing needed housing. Windermere Real Estate offers information regarding the sale price in the property listing. Contact Kendall Woodworth at (503) 539-0001 with questions or to see the land.

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1905 House Deconstruction on NE Glisan

The new owner of 7132 NE Glisan Street intends to deconstruct the house and detached shed to make way for a future housing development. DEZ Development bought the corner lot in late May and applied for a demolition permit earlier this month. Designers are currently working on plans for the replacement housing coming to this site.

When approved, demolition crews will clear the lot of all structures and fill the basement cavity. Although most buildings near this property are business-oriented, DEZ Development is committed to building housing at this location. Realtors had listed the hundred-year-old home as a fixer-up-er, and interior pictures of the house indicate significant neglect. Previous owners of the 1,568-square-foot home failed to upgrade or maintain the structure over its many years.

800 E. Glisan Sanborn Map 1909

When constructed in 1905, the home had an address of 800 E. Glisan. By 1920, it was renumbered to 1834 East Glisan and owned by R. S. Wildemuth. The owner and his home were featured in an advertisement for Sibloco Pipeless Furnace in The Oregon daily journal of October 31st, 1920. This home changed to its current address after the Great Portland Renumbering in the early 1930s.

NE Glisan Street has significantly changed since 1905. Once the lifeblood of the neighborhood, the Montavilla streetcar running down its center ended service by the 1950s. Residences along the street gave way to businesses. Automotive traffic has increased significantly since then, making Glisan an arterial roadway. However, the neighborhood is changing again with a return of housing and small businesses catering to local residents. With luck, the replacement housing built on this site will accommodate a new generation of people calling NE Glisan their home.

1834 E Glisan Sanborn Map 1928

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