Musings On A Tree Inventory

20140906_115959We suggested you go. We even did it ourselves. But in the end, it was probably a difficult sell, as counting trees doesn’t exactly excite the senses. But the neighborhood tree inventory was more than that. It was a learning experience; a way to meet new neighbors; a different way to see the ‘hood; and then there’s the fact that it was a step to get more trees for Foster-Powell.

20140906_111949And thanks to one volunteer, Ruth Williams, we can now say it was somewhat poetic, too.

Here’s her account:

“We arrived at Foster carts and happy espresso was giving all the volunteers delicious coffee. We got our clipboards and vests. Someone rumored there was a zizyphus tree in area 13, but we had to see it to believe it.
20140906_125341“Groups of two or three set off to count the trees, some on bikes, some walking. Arborists on call roamed to assist with tricky species. We found trees that were full of berries for birds, walnuts for squirrels, pears, apples, apricots, cherries and figs for people to eat. A pair of hornbeams supported a red hammock. A porch was covered in hops. A toddler rode by on a red tricycle. A weeping birch danced in the wind. We debated whether chestnuts or cryptomeria were sharper. We found an Acer that stumped the experts with sets of three leaflets, Manchurian maple, or box elder? A spirited debate ensued.
20140906_093507“Some blocks had no street trees at all. Some blocks had eleven inch planting strips which would be unlikely to support any worthwhile-sized tree. The locust flowers were blooming pink a little late, and the ashes were glowing in yellow fall color. Different teams counted 68 or 110 trees or so. A volunteer visiting from Germany recognized trees, their Latin botanical names being the same everywhere. We decided Fosterites love eating vegetables and fruits from their front yards. We felt this was a neighborhood where people are respectful of their neighbor’s pumpkins, not a smashing pumpkins kind of place.
20140906_110902“We finished up with a stop on 69th st to see the fabled zizyphus, covered in grape-sized ju-jus, bright green, healthy, a botanical oddity. Volunteers regrouped at the carts for beer, burritos, and brownies.
“It was warm. We went home to lie down and dream of the melodious species of our neighborhood trees, Nyssa sylvatica, Elaeganus multiflora, Zizyphus jujuba, Tilia cordata. These silent sentinels stand tall along our streets slowing stormwater runoff, combing air pollutants away, producing oxygen, shade and fruit, Adding color, fragrance and grace to our yards and homes. Shading our hammocks for naps. Counting the trees reminds us of all the things we count on them for.”
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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

What a fun time to be Foster-ites, eh? Spiffy new storefronts, new businesses, soon-to-be functional movie theater, and the eventual Portland Mercado. If only we could blink three times, pray for the trifecta, and wake up to news that the Phoenix Pharmacy building has sold to someone who’s intent on not letting it rot.

Here are your weekend tidbits…

- Ok, I said “spiffy new storefronts” above. But that doesn’t do it justice. The Red Castle Plaza—just go with it—is putting some serious sex appeal into Foster. No awning, exposed brick facade, and windows that peek out at the tree line. This is a huge aesthetic upgrade for the commercial core of the neighborhood. Can’t wait for more of it along Foster.

- I also said “new businesses” above. That may not do it justice either. Foster Road will be scoring a record shop in the near future, as Green Noise Records have announced their intent to move into the neighborhood. And they even have a space picked out…we just don’t know where yet. Add buying music to the list of things you won’t have to leave the neighborhood for anymore.

- The Bobwhite Theatre is turning 90. Celebrate. At the theater. Music and revelry all weekend long, capping with a free/all ages community party and cake cutting on Sunday. September 26 – 28.

- The Foster-Powell Neighborhood Tree Inventory wraps up this Saturday with a final workday. Volunteers are still needed. Think about it. Serious, it’s not as boring as it sounds.

- Southeast Uplift recently posted a nice writeup and Q&A session with the neighborhood’s own Christian Smith and Erica Bjerning. Check it out. And for those that don’t know them, they’ve been actively involved in improving our neighborhood for the better part of a decade. Nice to see them get some love.

- For those into rankings, Foster has a few racked up. Newest among them? One of the country’s best 21 strip clubs. Bravo, Devils Point.

- Live music for the weekend and beyond:
Torta- Dennis Elmer, Friday night; Zac Allen’s Jazzy Night, Saturday
Starday- Rockabilly w/Shuggie B Goode, Friday;  TBD, Saturday; FoPo All Stars Series, Wednesday
Gemini- Echo Pearl Varsity, Saturday night; Flex Logic, Thursday night
Bar Carlo- Sweet Reggae Sundays w/DJ Margo, from 5-10 pm; Allen and Letts Duo, Wednesday from night

Be cool, all. Enjoy the weekend.

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Foster To Get Record Store. Maybe.

Ok, first Nayar and O’Malley’s give themselves a bit of a facelift. Then Renaissance Guitars sets up shop in the hood. The Bobwhite gets sold and subsequently lined up to start showing movies. Then Red Castle Plaza—formerly known as Foster Plaza—gets the wheels moving on a major renovation to restore its original facade (and get rid of the god forsaken monstrosity of an awning in the process).

All this within the last six months. (The list gets quite long if we go back further.)


Add record shop to the list. Maybe. Probably.

I heard it from someone who heard it from someone. You know how that goes. And my heart’s been broken before. But…

There’s this, straight from the source:
“I’ve promised not to disclose the exact address just yet, but Green Noise Records has a new location. It’s in Foster-Powell, about a 5 minute (tops) drive from our current spot.”

Ok, who really has record players? I don’t. I may never go in there. (That’s for dramatics, I totally will.) But when I imagine John Cusack and Jack Black hanging out listening to tunes, I can’t help but to get giddy over a record store moving into the neighborhood. Oh, and just ’cause I don’t have a record player doesn’t mean you don’t. Or someone you know. The fact is, they probably do. And there are enough people in Portland who definitely do.

So Green Noise Records moving to the neighborhood is a good thing. Definitely a good thing. If it happens, that is.

* We’re talking records, not record players. Buy more music, guys.

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And Then There Was Light

Deconstruction starts.
Awning coming down. More light.
Original architecture and windows exposed.

That was almost a haiku.

Here’s the before:










Restoration in progress. Coincidentally, they could leave it like this to mirror the Phoenix Pharmacy. You know, if they were sadistic and immoral. Nah…

Red Castle II











Let there be light. More windows, more light, more exposed brick = more sexy for Foster.

Red Castle










More to come…

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Foster Finds Fame in the Buff

Foster gets accolades for many things. For example, its wide, Parisian sidewalks are well documented. And we boast of one of the best burger joints in all of Portland, too. Foster-Powell also continues to be one of the hottest real estate ‘hoods in the metro region. And the local night/bar scene could rival most in the city.

Never mind that we also score high marks for our abundance of auto-related businesses (read: chop shops) and convenience stores, for we now get another thing to brag about: one of America’s 21 best strip clubs (according to Thrillist).

Devil's Point in SnowYep. And it’s not Seductions or Pussy Cats. Or Sassy’s or Shimmers, for that matter. (Not sure why I know all those. But I guess it also points to something else we have in abundance.)

So if you’re not hip to the Foster strip club scene, that leaves one more for national recognition: Devil’s Point, our very own rockabilly/’suicide girl’/den of mischief/strip club.

Yeah, that Devil’s Point. The one where Quentin Tarantino and Jax Teller may run into each other. Or some hip kid, Tom Waits, and the creep from up the street. It’s all the same, but there’s definitely a vibe, and Thrillist noticed. And with it comes another claim to fame for Foster.

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Another Foster Facelift Coming Soon

IMG_4240The Foster District is getting a much needed facelift—and we’re not talking about the Streetscape Plan. Foster Plaza, the commercial strip between SE 64th and 65th, will soon be transforming from 70’s-era strip plaza with an oversized and imposing awning, to a historically-restored and visually appealing centerpiece in the “heart of Foster.”

Boston has the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Foster has a similar monstrosity in the heart of its commercial core.

IMG_4250Not for long, though.

The ugly, green awning obscuring the presence of Red Castle Games, the future Cafe Red, and Portland Ketchup Company is set to come down as early as tomorrow.

Yeah, tomorrow.

It may not be as expensive OR expansive as the Foster Streetscape Plan, but it will have a more immediate impact. And it’s this type of physical improvement that the city (and, presumably, area residents) hoped would be spurred by including the western stretch of Foster in the Lents Urban Renewal Area. Fortunately, this is already happening organically in the heart of Foster and beyond. See O’Malley’s and Nayar Taqueria as recent examples.


These windows are currently being covered by the building’s awning.

And it may be proving contagious. The Bobwhite Theatre is getting fixed up inside, and there are plans to restore the marquis at some point. N.W.I.P.A. and Fat Yoga long ago placed planters and other green features in front of their respective spaces. And we’re currently seeing some semblance of a renovation project just west of Nayar. (Or so we’re told that’s what’s behind the black plastic covering the window.)

But back to Foster Plaza and that hideous green awning. It is hideous, indeed. Not only is it large and overbearing, but it extends farther from the building than the height at which it starts to protrude. It unnecessarily shades the shady side of the block, creating a long, dark corridor that makes it difficult to see what businesses are hiding beneath.


Original windows will now be exposed to Foster Road

But it’ll be gone soon. And thanks to Hanna Realty’s openness to change, as well as the Portland Development Commission’s assistance through its Storefront Improvement Program, the commercial strip will be getting a shot in the arm. The building will be markedly improved visually with the absence of the awning. That much is for sure. But in its place we’ll also see the original architecture exposed, which includes another layer of of windows currently being covered.

Permits are already in place, and the first step will be demolition of the awning. As mentioned, that could take place this week (tomorrow?). After that, work will be done to restore the original facade (including said hidden windows) and install new transoms.

Foster in its heyday. Original architecture of Foster Plaza sans awning.

Foster in its heyday. Original architecture of Foster Plaza sans awning.

This times perfectly with the late-fall opening of Cafe Red, as well as the marketing of the last remaining vacant space in the commercial building. And more importantly, it will make Foster that much more appealing. It will be a significant upgrade for a commercial stretch that is threatening to “pop.”

With improvements already happening, and more to come, Foster is seeing a renaissance of sorts. Or at the very least, we’re getting sexied up a bit. Thanks to the folks at Red Castle for being proponents of removing the awning, as well as the efforts they’re making to push the commercial core to the next level.

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