Enchilada Express opened its second location this week. The new restaurant, serving Mexican food, is open for takeout. Located on SE Division next to the recently completed Pacific Plaza, this additional location is in the heart of a rapidly growing section of Montavilla.
Located at 8245 SE Division Street, this Enchilada Express location joins the original restaurant on SE Powell Blvd. The menu offers a range of Mexican dishes that should be popular with the lunchtime crowd. Place orders over the phone at 503-477-9800, on their website, or when visiting the location.
This week, construction crews are working on a portion of SE Division Street as part of the Division Transit Project. Currently, reconstruction of the northwest corner of SE Divisions Street and 85th Ave is underway. The work will remove a none compliment driveway curb cut and create new ADA curb ramps.
For a year, construction on the Division Transit Project has progressed towards an expected fall 2022 completion date. Work on this project will provide fast travel time to the city center and create safer conditions for none motorists using these streets. It is a massive project that will transform a critical transportation artery in the city.
In rebuilding the sidewalk near SE 85th Ave, crews temporarily deconstructed a section of Master Kong‘s parking lot. The portion of the restaurant’s driveway that leads onto SE Division Street is now permanently removed and replaced with a level sidewalk. TriMet representative Roberta Altstadt explained that the removed curb cut was mostly unused. “There was a curb cutout to Division just a few feet from this corner, but it appears to be too small for a car or a legal driveway.”
Across SE 85th Ave on the north side of SE Division, another driveway’s removal will accommodate a new bus platform. “A bus station platform will go in at the site of the current Line 2 bus stop. The bus station platform is roughly 70 feet. The project will rebuild the sidewalk at that location. It will mean closing one driveway and improving another that is approximately 40-50 feet away.” said Altstadt.
Some local business people are concerned about the changes. Losing access to SE Division could impact the traditional flow of customer access. Altstadt expressed that this “project will not completely eliminate any property’s access to a public right of way.” Additionally, “TriMet has already been in contact with the property owner there, and are working through negations with them.”
Improvements to NE Glisan Street are needed, as many pedestrian spaces are in poor condition. Better transit through this part of Montavilla will only improve conditions for the people who work and live near this roadway. Many density housing projects proposed near this busy street have limited parking, requiring public transportation improvements. Unrequested changes to existing properties can be disconcerting for the owners of those locations. However, the roadway enhancements will likely increase property value and bring more people to SE Division Street businesses.
With this project just 40% completed, many more changes are in process for SE Division Street. The adjustment period will not be without conflict. However, changes have a high likelihood of creating a safer and more functional area for everyone traveling to and through this section of Portland.
Early Assistance request 20-217421 seeks to revitalize the single-story commercial building at 8827 SE Division Street. The application indicates the building will house two offices. Currently boarded up, the building now has a heavy coating of graffiti.
The 1949 era wood-frame building was purchased in mid-2017 by Jian Zhuang Ma and Ximei Huang. The owners have a history of creating restaurants. However, this looks to be an investment project. It is early in the development process, and uses for the building could change.
The building will be renovated inside and out, with some of the structure demolished. The building’s front will receive new entryways for each of the two office units. Further modernization will come from upgrades to power systems thought the building. Two new restrooms will bring the building’s total to three.
New parking and landscaping will accommodate onsite stormwater management. The project description mentions Public Works Permits (PWP) for both SE 89th Ave and SE Division Street, indicating new sidewalks and curbs could be part of this development. In this area, SE 89th Ave does not currently have sidewalks on the street’s west side.
This site is adjacent to the proposed Kimberly Apartments. If all planned buildings advance to construction, SE 89th Ave will become a more vibrant and urban street. With luck, both projects will move forward in 2021 and enhance this section of SE Division.
This week, TriMet tested a prototype bus shelter for the Division Transit Project. This installation validated the real-world functionality ahead of construction. Permanent deployments along the 15-mile project route will begin in 2021. Engineered for space-constrained stops along SE Division Street, the new shelter’s versatile design can expand into larger spaces while maintaining a constant appearance.
The shelters, built by Landscape Forms, needed to adapt to the project’s unique requirements. “Early studies determined that TriMet’s current bus shelters would not work within the extremely constrained and diverse Division Street corridor,” explained Tia York, Public Information Officer at TriMet. “The project’s modular shelter design provides a more cost-efficient option for the diverse conditions of Division Street, and the functional demands and safety considerations corridor-wide.”
Located at NW Division and Eastman Parkway in Gresham, the prototype only stood a few days before crews dismantled it. The TriMet Facebook post announcing the prototype contained several reader comments with design change requests. However, the planning phase for bus stop design has concluded. “The shelter design was heavily vetted and guided by input received [from] the project’s Community Advisory Committee during a two-plus year period from 2017 to 2019”, York commented. Additional input by the Committee on Accessible Transportation, The Oregon Commission for the Blind, and other stakeholders shaped the chosen design.
These bus stops offer more than a new look. Future riders will appreciate modern integrated lighting, digital TransitTracker, and hardened glass panels providing weather protection around seating areas. New sheltered stops include waste receptacles, dramatically increasing trash can availability on SE Glisan Street.
This prototype shelter demonstrates the general appearance and function of what TriMet riders can expect from the Division Transit Project. Construction will start next year and run through Fall 2022. The completed transit project will create a faster and more enjoyable commute to the city center for Southeast Portland residents.
UPDATE – Excellent Cuisine is now open from 9:30 AM to 10:00 PM daily. A new website for the business offers images of the menu and testimonials. They can be contacted by phone at 503-946-8830 or you can order delivery from any of these three services: Postmates.com, Grubhub.com, and Seamless.com.
Update from November 14th , 2020.
UPDATE – Excellent Cuisine had a soft opening this week with one Yelp reviewer posting his first impressions. The restaurant also now has a DoorDash page available for placing home delivery orders.
The King Plaza building prominently displays a new Excellent Cuisine sign, replacing the Wong’s King Seafood sign. Not too much information is available regarding the new establishment. The liquor license application paperwork shows a checkbox for “Video Lottery Machines” on site. The application was filed by Y & W Trading LLC with owners Yu Xiong Zhang and Wan Fang Kuang. The owners’ names are listed on the application but crossed out and replaced with the LLC.
In the coming months, expect to see more information on the cuisine type and an opening date. Based on current indoor dining restrictions, it’s likely to be a while before they open. However, many are already excited to see this location filled with another restaurant.
Pacific Plaza anchors the busy intersection of 82nd Ave and SE Division. The new retail building finished construction this week and is now seeking tenants. This building represents a significant advancement in the area’s redevelopment, as it transforms into a pedestrian-centric commercial corridor.
The retail location, clad in dark brick, features a towering central entryway of glass and metal. Both design elements draw the attention of people passing through the intersection. The building owners, CSS Properties, choose the material and color pallet for this building carefully. CSS Properties “had a really clear idea about the materiality. They are big fans of masonry and this dark-colored brick that they chose… They had a vision about the two street-facing elevations. Break up the massing somewhat with the parapet line.” Said Nathan Junkert, Project Manager with Scott Edwards Architecture. They knew it would be highly visible and wanted to attract people into the structure.
Part of drawing people into the building starts with creating an open area in front of the building. “We carved out a little bit of space around the bus shelter and main entry to respect that public-facing side of the building.” Said Junkert. Extra space at the corner not only makes the intersection safer for pedestrians but creates a comfortable location for people to transition between the building and street.
Pacific Plaza’s use of a double hight center hallway is a distinctive feature for a multi-tenant retail building of this size. Tenants can utilize both the interior and exterior entryways for their business. Having an indoor promenade in addition to street-side storefronts will expand foot traffic opportunities for shops and restaurants in the building. The hallway connects two enlarged entrances on either side of the structure and bisects the building, creating a north and south half.
Currently, the hallway and utility room are the only completed interior spaces within the building. There are no shared restrooms for the property; each tenant will need to create their own facilities. Both halves of the building are continuous, from front to back, and only crushed rock lines the floor. The retail space is left unfinished to allow future tenants the flexibility in creating their store’s layout. Plumbing for water and sewer extends into each perspective space. Electrical service also is stubbed into the building, connecting to each retail location from the meter-bank outside. The structure has entryways to support up to 14 individual retail establishments. However, tenants will likely occupy larger storefront sections and reduce the building’s overall number of shops.
According to Alexi Meuwissen, Director of Marketing and Business Development with Scott Edwards Architecture, CSS Properties are actively seeking specific prospects. “The owners do not have any tenants secured yet, but they are targeting the following: Starbucks, Subway, Verizon, FedEx, and physical therapy.” Building designers envisioned food service as a potential use for this site. “Grease interceptors are already installed. It’s well-prepped for restaurants.” Said General Contractor Jef Krohn with Joseph Hughes Construction (JHC).
It is easy to envision restaurants in this location because of its history of housing eateries. This site had previously been the decade-long home to the Hung Far Low restaurant. Over its history, this corner lot supported a hundred years of successful business in Portland. That constant occupation and redevelopment complicated construction when digging drywells for the project. “When we did dig this thing up, there was so much stuff underneath this building that had been here for hundreds of years.” Said Krohn.
Further complicating the construction of the building was its proximity to the building at 8245 SE Division Street. That structure is within 14 inches of Pacific Plaza’s east wall. Being so close to the building prevented them from installing brick veneer from the outside of the building. That restriction required switching building materials from a standard steel frame structure to a structural brick wall on that side of the building. “We had to lay all the brick from the inside,” explained Krohn. Scott Edwards Architecture had to adjust the plans as the project was underway. “We had to think on our feet,” described Junkert. The outward appearance is indistinguishable between the two types of wall construction. However, it was an example of the unseen challenges they faced.
Another difficulty for the project came from COVID-19. This project completed in just over seven months, despite being in the middle of a pandemic. During the crisis, steel suppliers shut down, forcing builders to seek out new sources. Workplace safety policies frequently changed during the project, creating delays from adjusting to safety rules and sourcing different protective equipment.
Regardless of challenges, the project team is pleased with the timely delivery and quality of what they have created. Buildings replaced as part of 82nd Ave’s revitalization can create some public concern. There is an understanding that new structures are shaping the maturing character along the street. Junkert expressed his desire that the building’s placement and design will complement the neighborhood. “We are hopeful that occupying the corner and building out the street frontage will have a positive effect on 82nd and the Jade District in general.”
More people are living near this section of town, and not just driving to it. The building is a successful compromise between 82nd Avenue’s history as a car-centric street and its future as a pedestrian-friendly community space. Pacific Plaza has a healthy amount of onsite parking, accessible from 82nd Ave and SE 83rd Ave. Despite parking availability, this building focusses on pedestrians. Every side of this development has large windows and entrances to the property. It will have activity in all directions and encourage people to travel through and around the building.
CSS Properties had ideas of what type of businesses would fit here when the project begin. However, COVID-19 has shifted those expectations towards a greater variety of possible occupants. They are willing to work with any interested tenant and are devoted to making the building suitable for prospective businesses.
Pacific Plaza represents an accelerated transformation of both 82nd Ave and SE Division. This area once had only business lining the street, and they catered to automobile access. With the opening of the Orchards of 82nd apartment building at this intersection, the area is firmly a community of residents and businesses. The shops of Pacific Plaza should expect local customers to travel on foot and create an establishment serving those customers’ needs. They have an opportunity to further transform these cross streets in a positive direction by providing services for both residents and visitors.
The southeast corner of Montavilla will gain an impressive 12 unit apartment building offering a wide range of different sized residences, with some onsite parking. Located at 2444 SE 90th Ave, the project has affordability and housing diversity at its core. This development aims to bridge the gap between the working class homes around it and the urbanized nature of nearby SE Division.
The development will transform an overgrown patch of land, positioned one parcel back from SE Division Street. The lot has remained empty after the 2009 demolition of both a single-family residence and a detached garage. This portion of SE 90th is an older paved road without sidewalks. Most of the surrounding properties are single-family residences “built during 1925-1971. The architecture of each building is compact and affordable.” Said Kym Nguyen of Concept Design & Associates, the project’s Design Manager.
Nguyen worked to incorporate the functional design of the surrounding buildings into this new three-story apartment building. Many of the design elements chosen will complement the other buildings on the street while incorporating contemporary style. Each apartment offers an open floor-plan desired by modern-day residents. Traditional siding is used in vertical bands to break up the massing on the building’s streetside. The build uses a conventional roofline featuring modest eaves, similar to neighboring properties.
The project’s owner instructed Nguyen to create a complex that attracted the most comprehensive range of renters. Including older adults, families, single people, and couples. Mixing the unit types between studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom options will help attract a diverse renter. However, greater diversity comes through offering units on the ground floor, making space available to residents needing special mobility consideration. Support for a variety of transportation needs further increases renter diversity.
The building will offer six garages for residents needing secure parking. PBOT required 17 feet of dedication along SE 90th Ave to accommodate new sidewalks and street parking, adding more parking options for residents. The location is also near both a MAX station and bus lines, providing fast transit downtown. The onsite parking makes a peace offering to the surrounding homeowners who may fear parking congestion. However, this project will encourage mass transit for a portion of residents and help meet the cities environmental goals.
Nguyen explained all phases of the property include resident income considerations. “Affordability is the key for this project, so people are able to afford to buy [them] when these units [convert] to Condos from apartments.” The owner of this property plans to use the rental income from this building for his retirement. However, Nguyen designed them to convert into condominium units eventually. This affordability lifecycle will start with renters and then grow into ownership, perhaps with some of the same residents making the transition with the building.
This project could signal a subtle change in how density housing comes to market. Opening as an inclusive apartment building and then transforming into a condominium may become a successful Portland development path. It can retain the nearby community’s tradition of attainable ownership while first alleviating a housing shortage. Buildings that include some parking are better able to transition from apartment to condominium as many realtors struggle to list properties without a garage.
This is a project to pay attention to over the coming years. Its success could become a model to emulate. They have made many choices through parking, design, and floor plan variety that should meet their longterm goals. Regardless of this project’s future successes as a condominium, it will offer ample housing options now, when Portland needs it most.
The southwest corner of Montavilla is receiving an intersection upgrade. New curb ramps and traffic light poles, are being constructed at the corner of SE 76th Ave and SE Division Street.
The new traffic lights will open up the intersection with Mast Arm mounted lights. They can sit further back from the curb compared to the older Box Span traffic lights, that are currently used at this intersection. This project also changes the signal configuration. It is changing from a three way intersection to a four way intersection. SE 76th Ave does not cross Division Street directly. Instead, SE 76th aligns with a private driveway for new housing on the south side of Division. Changes to traffic control at this intersection will allow for those residents to enter the intersection in a controlled manner.
Active construction is well underway at Pacific Plaza, on the corner of SE Division and 82nd Ave. Much of the steel frame has been constructed and the metal studwork is filling in the gaps. Near 80% of the roof work has also been constructed.
The building at 2464 SE 82nd Ave was little more than early foundation work back in February, when Montavilla News first reported on the project. Now the size and impact of the project is apparent to all that pass through the busy intersection. The project will pick up momentum quickly from here on out, until the building is ready for tenant buildout.
No new tenants are yet known, but this prominent location should attract interest for one of the ten storefronts being built. Below are several pictures documenting the progress.
Changes for a large lot at 7601 SE Division Street have been looming for the last five years. This location is currently an underutilized gated parking lot. Last sold for $525,000.00 on 06/25/2015, the future of the massive space has been in question. At nearly an acre, it is one of the largest undeveloped parcels on SE Division. Fortunately its foliage and fence has kept the space from projecting vacancy.
The most recent Early Assistance sought by Dig 76th Division LLC, indicates a multi-building development. “Construction of two new buildings with interior parking. Commercial retail on ground floor at Division, and apartments above. Second building will be all apartments. (115 residential units -total – between the two new buildings- are proposed.”
Earlier proposals, from mid 2019, had the project consisting of “four or five story multi-family building consisting entirely of affordable housing.” Before that, in 2015, a completely different plan was proposed. “Proposal is to construct a 9,000 sf one story building shell for future tenant use as a dialysis clinic. Reconfigure existing parking. Add new driveway and modify existing driveway.”
Many large project have to go through iterations before the right combination of funding and approval can be obtained. As the housing crunch in Portland continues, let’s hope this current version of 601 SE Division Street meets the approval of Portland’s city officials and investors.
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