Tag: APANO

APANO to Redevelop Canton Grill Site on SE 82nd

After nearly two and half years sitting vacant, the former Canton Grill property at 2610 SE 82nd Avenue will play a significant role in the district’s transformation. The owners of the iconic restaurant recently accepted the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon‘s (APANO) offer to purchase the 47,265-square-foot site. Next month, APANO staff will begin public outreach and use those interactions to inform redevelopment plans.

APANO’s Community Development Director, Duncan Hwang, explained that acquiring the site became a priority for his organization soon after the restaurant closed. That historic eatery operated near the corner of SE 82nd Avenue and Division Street for 76 years during the height of the car-centric era. Consequentially, the location’s parking lot is four times bigger than the building’s footprint. That underutilized space has the potential to support density housing above additional commercial storefronts. A handful of recent developments in the area embracing a modern mixed-use multistory design. Those buildings feature deemphasized parking and provide pedestrian-scale ground-floor retail units with apartments above. However, those projects are still rare on 82nd Avenue. According to Hwang, the site could just as easily become a chain pharmacy store or another low-density shop. Buying this property allows APANO to secure this site before other groups lock up the parcel for another 50 years. With the guidance of the community, they intend to deliver a building that enhances the district and furthers the transformation of the former highway into a Civic Corridor.

The Canton Grill property sits across SE 82nd Avenue from APANO’s headquarters in the Orchards of 82nd building. That mixed-use project was the group’s first expansion into commercial development through a partnership with Rose Community Development Corporation (Rose CDC). APANO manages the retail space on the ground floor, and Rose CDC runs the affordable housing above. That successful endeavor encouraged the organization to expand further into development. Earlier this year, APANO announced another partnership for low-income housing on the nearby Portland Community College (PCC) campus. “We are also going to be working with Just Future on 120 units at PCC Southeast. Between the Orchards [of 82nd] and PCC, that’s almost 200 units of affordable housing,” said Hwang.

APANO’s development work supports the community’s need for socially guided projects while filling a niche underserved by current programs. “We did a strategic planning process about two years ago looking at needs and gaps for the Asian pacific islander community in general, and one of the gaps was there wasn’t a culturally specific housing developer for this community.” Said Hwang. APANO staff found that senior living and supportive housing did not account for differing tastes in Asian diets or preferred exercise classes. They also found that the physical design of buildings posed a lasting deficit in housing accommodations. “Spaces for family kinds of interaction is a desired, and then also a lot of our elders are shorter, so having cabinets that are better accessible and things like that has also come up as design elements.” APANO hopes its expansion into development will create a more equitable housing market in the region and fill those identified gaps.

APANO purchased the property with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated to the organization by the State legislator. That money was expressly set aside for community-supporting property acquisition, allowing the organization to make a cash offer for the Canton Grill land. Duncan Hwang believes they were not the highest builder but expects that his organization’s commitment to redevelop the property responsibly influenced the Louis family’s decision to accept their offer. “The history and legacy of this family and this site is not lost on us,” said Hwang. APANO hopes to retain the 95-year-old restaurant building that has helped define 82nd Avenue. However, they will use community interest in preservation and the assessed structural condition to determine how the single-story building will fit into the larger redevelopment project.

Montavilla News illustrations on Portland Maps image

The future density of affordable housing from the Orchards and PCC projects presents an opportunity to expand uses for the Canton Grill project beyond traditional low-income housing. Hwang explained that they want to engage in “a real thoughtful conversation about the type of affordability that we want to see at that particular site.” He sees an opportunity for a mix of market rate and workforce housing above affordable retail as a possible use. The revenue from market-rate units can subsidize the affordability of the rest of the project while adding diversity to the area.

Duncan Hwang framed this redevelopment as a blank slate project, emphasizing that public outreach will drive many choices for the property. However, goals for the site will dictate some limits on the housing types considered. “I don’t think there’s any world where we’d build luxury market-rate condo-style things,” said Hwang. “It’s really about how do we maximize community benefit, which definitely includes housing. But how much? I think it depends on the size of a plaza or green space, commercial space, and all that.” 

Regardless of community direction, providing resiliency to the population center will become a vital feature of this complex. That could include a solar panel covered parking structure that would function to reduce energy demands from residents and act as an emergency public charging station in a natural disaster. Resiliency design could also incorporate warming and cooling facilities for use during extreme weather events.

Outreach will begin on December 15th with a public forum at APANO’s community space. Staff will also reach out in other ways around the same time. “We’ll have a survey going out shortly as well, and in multiple languages. It’s going to be focused on unit mix, commercial space usage, and the sort of services that you want to see,” said Hwang. They are moving quickly because funding opportunities happen at set intervals. “If we want to maximize affordability and go for low-income housing tax credits, that’s on specific cycles. So we might be able to get into the next cycle next summer.” That deadline may not be an issue if the public supports market rate and workforce housing, but that determination will happen over the next few months, and APANO is keeping all options open. Interested people should look for opportunities to participate in planning efforts on APANO’s website or social media accounts.


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Jade District Dumpster Day Overwhelming Success

Saturday’s Jade District Dumpster Day and Solve Oregon cleanup attracted dozens of volunteers and a stream of vehicles dropping off large trash items. Within the first hour of operation, people filled 30-yard dumpsters at two drop-off sites. Instead of closing three hours early, the events coordinator, Alisa Kajikawa, picked up her phone and arranged for additional dumpsters. Before the day was done, yet another cycle of dumpsters rolled in to accommodate the overwhelming demand for trash disposal.

Kajikawa, the Jade District Manager, organized this one-day event with funds from Oregon Metro and support from the 82nd Avenue Business Association. The four-hour-long program included a community cleanup and open dumpster access for neighborhood disposal of bulky items.

Volunteers with Solve ventured out with 33-gallon carts to collect trash throughout the area and bring back items of all sizes to the primary dumpster site, located in the Unicorn Inn’s parking lot at 3040 SE 82nd Avenue. Nearby campers used shopping carts to roll in trash from their area and help clean up the streets.

Jade District Manager Alisa Kajikawa and Metro Councilor Duncan Hwang stacking mattresses

The dumpster on SE 82nd Avenue, and one on SE 92nd Avenue, were open to residents seeking a free place to dispose of items not collected through curbside trash pickup. Demand for dumpster use far exceeded expectations, and both sites eventually had to turn people away. Even after staff filled the five 30-yard trash containers to capacity, a stack of mattresses remained awaiting pickup by a recycler.

The dumpster demand seen over the weekend signals a great need in Portland for more events like the Jade District Dumpster Day. In 2020, The City canceled a long-running program that worked with Neighborhood Associations to host dumpster days across Portland. These events acted as an annual trash release valve that reduced the number of illegal dumps. Now groups like the Jade District are scrambling to find funding to meet the demand for trash disposal.

The original budget for the event only included funds for two dumpsters. The added cost of the three extra dumpsters will need to come from grant reserves and other funds within the organization. The success of the cleanup is measurable by the tonnage of rubbish collected. However, it barely makes a dent in Portland’s trash problem. Based on the demand seen Saturday and the piles of illegally dumped items across the City, an event like this could run every month for years without slowing down.

Flyer for the now completed event

Disclosure: The author of this article servers on the boards of the 82nd Avenue Business Association and Montavilla Neighborhood Association. He also volunteered at this event.

Officials Tour 82nd Ave Ahead of Improvements

Today, three elected officials toured SE 82nd Ave to highlight proposed safety investments coming to the roadway. Thanks to United States Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the recently passed US House infrastructure package contains $5 million for 82nd Ave safety improvements. These federal dollars will join $185 million in State and City funds previously committed to 82nd Ave improvements as part of the jurisdictional transfer of the State-owned highway to the City of Portland.

State Representative Khanh Pham and Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty joined Rep. Blumenauer on the July 9th walk from SE Hawthorne Blvd to the APANO offices on SE Division Street. Positioned on the sidewalks of 82nd Ave, members of the procession observed the failing infrastructure and talked about future repairs.

Along the journey, Comm. Hardesty and others address the concern that gentrification often follows transit improvement projects. The group agreed that 82nd Ave projects need to consider their impact on existing residents and businesses to minimize displacement. Preventing community upheaval was a concern echoed later by Rep. Blumenauer at the press conference that followed today’s tour. “There is a significant amount of wealth to be generated by doing it right, but we have to do it… so it doesn’t displace and drive people away.” He called for projects to “reinforce the elements of community” and kickstart developments that serve all income levels.

At the press conference, the speakers celebrated the infrastructure improvements coming to the roadway. Better lighting and enhanced crosswalks will provide residents near this street the same safety other Portlanders have within their neighborhoods. These upgrades join public transportation developments designed to make living along 82nd Ave feasible.

These infrastructure improvements make the area suitable for more density housing projects that use the untaped real estate above commercial spaces. Rep. Pham expressed dismay at the number of “Mega Storage Units” being created along the roadway. Rep. Blumenauer agreed that those facilities negatively affect community-building efforts. He explained that Self Storage businesses allow companies to hold onto land and generate some profit while they wait for the value of the property to rise, creating “black holes in the community.”

Rep. Blumenauer is a longtime believer in East Portland’s potential. Years ago, he aggressively pressed for PCC’s to expand into the Southeast, with the desire to create social destinations. Much of 82nd Ave’s transportation move people through the area instead of bringing people in. “82nd Ave is the highest volume of transit in the city [and] it has been a lost opportunity for as long as I remember,” Rep. Blumenauer recalled. Fortunately, investments coming to the highway will create the safe spaces people need to live, walk, and build their community. 

Early next year, 82nd Ave will become part of Portland’s network of roads and begin receiving upgrades to make the street safe and modern. Last month, the Oregon legislature approved $80 million in funds that will partially pay for 82nd Ave’s transfer to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It was one of the last obstacles to overcome ahead of next year’s jurisdictional transfer.

Rep. Blumenauer praised the work of Rep. Pham and Comm. Hardesty on their efforts to move the decades-long transfer process near completion. It required countless hours of negotiations before State and City staff agreed to the terms of transfer. However, the agreement would have stalled if not for an influx of federal recovery funding. Years of work needed to coincide with the right timing for infrastructure investments. Today’s events represented an acknowledgment that supporters won the fight for change on 82nd Ave. Now, efforts will shift to enacting projects that build up the community without pushing people out.