Foster: seven years later

img_5779Portland Monthly recently released its April issue, which represents the magazine’s yearly look at the city’s neighborhoods. While the magazine offers commentary on neighborhoods’ offerings for young families, food and drink, or best values in relation to housing costs and proximity to amenities, it also breaks down each of the city’s statistical standings based on population, park space, real estate prices, crime, etc.

This year’s addition makes no special mention of Foster-area neighborhoods, in particular, other than to suggest that home prices here still represent a decent value compared to other “close-in” neighborhoods. But, after reading the issue, we were prompted to go back and look at other issues from years past. And then we were reminded of a post we wrote three years ago about the state of the neighborhood. In that post, we took a look back at the 2010 Portland Monthly neighborhood issue, in which Foster-Powell (and the inner Foster-area in general—Mt. Scott-Arleta and Creston-Kenilworth included) was listed as one of three “up-and-coming” neighborhoods in the city to keep an eye on.

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Before our beloved Pieper Cafe set up shop at the corner of SE 65th and Foster, Yo Mama’s Coffee and Tea House was Da Hui’s next door neighbor

Nearly seven years later, we thought we’d take another look. And what we found, despite rising home prices, a few new businesses, proposed mixed-use developments, and the constant  ring of “potential,” is that Foster is still very decidedly Foster.

Our post three years ago referenced a then-four-year-old article that pointed to places like Tango Berretin, Performance Works NW, An Xuyen, the Gun Room and Artistic Taxidermy, Meticon Bikes, Slingshot, and Foster Burger, as evidence the “old west ambiance” of Foster was tapping into an “urban planner’s unrealized Parisian dream.”

And as we pointed out three years ago, not much had changed since that 2010 article (except for the sad passing of Guapo Comics and Coffee—RIP!). Sure, there were some subtle (and not so subtle) shifts—housing prices increased, a few businesses came and went, the Foster Streetscape Plan was approved—but the same ring of “promise” still echoed without the major transformation that some had expected.

And to an extent, that’s still the case today…even seven years later. And, perhaps, it’s totally ok. Sure, the pace of change may not be fast enough for some; for others, it may be too fast. Somewhere in the middle, though, there’s something refreshing about Foster still being Foster.

But while Foster still maintains that rough-and-tumble aesthetic, when we dig a little, the subtle changes may actually not be so subtle. There are three mixed-use housing developments  proposed between SE 51st and SE 72nd, of which could bring more commercial space and nearly 200 units of housing to the corridor in the next couple years; new businesses continue to find homes in the district, some of which could not have survived in this part of Portland seven years ago; the surrounding residential areas have seen home values nearly double in a short amount of time.

So with the “old west ambience” meets “unrealized Parisian dream” as the backdrop, where are we now? In some ways, as we’ve suggested, not too far from where we were in 2010. Many of the same businesses that formed the district’s identity in 2010 continue to do so today; Foster is probably more East Portland than it is Hawthorne; and many are still waiting for all the touted potential to be realized.

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Renderings of a proposed mixed-use development across the street from Portland Mercado 

In others ways, like we implied above, the change has actually been dramatic. You can get Stumptown Coffee at Pieper Cafe, Water Avenue Coffee at Speedboat, and there’s a third coffee shop at Portland Mercado; Foster Row, a former drapery, now houses several artists, crafters and makers, in a commercial-arts collective across the street from Devil’s Point; Portland Mercado has reshaped an entire section of the corridor, bringing visitors from all over the city, and, soon, a mixed-use commercial and housing development will spring up across the street; a bottle shop, game store, yoga studio, kids’ toy shop, and (soon-to-be) vegan burger restaurant no longer seem out of character for Foster; live music is a regular occurrence at multiple Foster bars; we now have four tattoo parlors; several art studios and galleries have opened in the last couple years; we even have a new, state-of-the-art and renowned recording studio operating out of one the neighborhood’s historic buildings.

In reality, a lot has changed on Foster. But not so much that it doesn’t resemble itself anymore. And as refreshing as that may be, it might not be the case in another seven years. We’re in for a wild ride, folks…

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

A trip to sunny California, or Arizona, or coastal Florida, really sounds nice right about now. We don’t mean to be a bummer, but the weather has us down. The few recent sun breaks have been refreshing, but we’re still not over the hump. Here’s hoping to good weather soon. Welcome to your weekend!

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– An EaterPDX article this week mentioned the impending opening of Off The Griddle, the eagerly awaited veggie burger (and more) restaurant. Off the Griddle is in the final stages of renovation, and the former Double Treble/Gemini Lounge/Lizards/Renos/Yadayada space will soon be slangin’ their burgers to the Foster masses. Get ready!

– Earlier this week we posted about the YMCA rebuild that will replace the old childcare facility with a bigger and more modern version, along with the addition of 54 apartments. The mixed-use development joins two other mixed-use residential projects proposed for Foster, and will be one of the first dominoes to fall in terms of new construction coming to the commercial corridor. Hopefully it has a net-positive impact.

– On the Powell side of things: Hello Lay Low Tavern, Goodbye Dennis’ 7 Dees. The former Coasters Bar & Grill (at 6015 SE Powell) is newly transformed into an old, SE Portland version of Club 21, the now-closed but once popular bar just off of NE Glisan and Sandy Blvd. The owners of Club 21 bought Coasters, transplanted a bit of the old decor from Club 21, renamed the space Lay Low Tavern, and voila….the newest neighborhood bar. And just throwing this out there: they do brunch on the weekends and have a rad little assortment of burgers.

– Oh, and about 7 Dees. Word is, they’re gone. We mentioned plans for development on the property several months ago, and it appears it’s all coming to fruition. The end result, a lot of self-storage units and the departure of the garden center. We’ll post more about the proposed self-storage facility next week, but we can safely say this two-block stretch of Powell is quickly changing.

Here’s your weekend entertainment:
SMART Collective- Gidrah//Isolation Chamber//Vanity Project//Brilleu//Morality, Friday at 6:30; Bashface//Quone//Deer Park//Bitter Buddha, Saturday from 5 – 9 pm
Starday Tavern- Lucas Benoit (6 – 8) and 2nd Annual FoxFest: Live Portland Hip-Hop (9 – midnight), Friday; Sarah Gwen Peters (6-8) and Tenbrook Bluegrass (9 – midnight), Saturday

As always, let us know what else is going on. Enjoy the weekend, y’all…

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YMCA rebuild comes into focus

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-8-18-38-pmThe Y-Arts Center at 6036 SE Foster has been the subject of redevelopment plans for close to two years. In its simplest conception, the plan is to rebuild the YMCA childcare facility to more modern specifications, while adding 54 units of housing in a mixed-use building that will rise four stories along Foster Road and three toward the rear near Holgate.

Plans for the property, situated just east of the commercial stretch that includes Tambayan Filipino Restaurant, Kilroy’s Tattoo, Flat Blak Gallery, Backstory Books and Latchkey Gallery, have sat mostly dormant until this last December, when it was announced the project would be going through a Planned Development and Conditional Use Review. It was then that we posted plans and renderings for the site, which would represent one of the largest developments planned for Foster in the near term. (Others would include the mixed-use projects proposed at SE 72nd and SE 51st and Foster.)

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Architect, Charlie Baxter, presented architectural renderings of the proposed YMCA mixed-use development. Top photo is looking north from Holgate; bottom is from Foster looking south

While the need for mixed-use and more dense housing along Foster is clear, it is not lost on developers that development of this kind is new to the neighborhood. For that reason, just as we’ve seen with the 72nd and Foster project, developers and architects are meeting with the community to discuss their plans and seek feedback. And last week at the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association meeting, the architect (from Leeb Architects) for the YMCA project did just that.

While the focus of the Q & A quickly turned to parking, a few details about the project were revealed. We share below:

Plans currently call for 54 units of housing to be split into two buildings: one four-story, mixed-use building that will front Foster and include the rebuilt childcare facility at ground-level and 42 apartments above; another 12-unit building will rise three stories to the south toward Holgate. The larger building will be nearer to Foster than the current facility now sits, which should do well to better engage with the street and provide more pedestrian-oriented energy. There will be a north/south passage road connecting the facility and apartments closer to Foster and those to the south near Holgate. 58 parking spots will be included in the project, as will significant landscaping (the site is currently 90% paved), a children’s play area, and communal grounds for barbecuing, etc. If all goes according to plan, construction could start as early as spring 2018.

IMG_6960While the idea of adding multi-story housing along Foster may feel like an uncomfortable concept, and concerns about parking and a changing character of the neighborhood are valid, increased residential density along transit and commercial corridors is a necessary step for the city’s sustainability—both economically to keep rents down, but also to ensure population growth doesn’t push on the urban growth boundary. A diversity of housing stock also adds to the vitality of a neighborhood. Almost as important, though, is how new developments such as these will fit into the neighborhood and how it will impact the corridor. Growth is inevitable, but we should demand thoughtful design so as to ensure a positive impact on the neighborhood. We’ll cross our fingers and hope the aesthetics of the building add vibrancy to the corridor and make the coming changes a little more palatable.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, folks! And happy weekend, too. We have some news for you, some entertainment, and, perhaps, a promise of some sun before the weekend ends. Get out in the neighborhood, have some fun, and enjoy what appears to be a sunny, mostly dry Sunday.

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– We’ll just throw this out there now. It’s St. Patrick’s Day…O’Malley’s is open at noon to celebrate. I’m starting my weekend early…perhaps you should, too. What’s more, they’ll have live Irish music from 6-9 pm, as well as a corned beef and cabbage dinner. Yes!

– As we mentioned yesterday, Futpool Portland’s opening is imminent. And the soccer enthusiasts should be happy. While the pricing structure and decor are still in the works, the owner wants to get doors open sooner than later, so as to introduce the futsal/soccer/pool combo game to the neighborhood. We got a sneak peek at the venue a couple nights ago, and the space is nearly ready. Here’s what to expect: for an hourly (or by the half-hour) rate, you and friends get a 20-by-10-foot table to play on; access to a fusball table; beer; multiple TVs that will air televised soccer events; and a backroom that’s available to rent out for parties (which would also include a playing table). The owner is excited to open the recreation space, but is also open to ideas from the community. We’ll keep you posted on its opening; when it does, stop in and give it a try.

– We’ll provide more details on this next week, but we have an artist/non-profit that wants to paint a mural on Foster. Their mission is to paint something with a social justice angle, and they feel Foster would be a good corridor to serve as its venue. We’ll put a call out next week, too, but if you know of a wall (and its owner) that could fit the bill, let us know.

– In a bit of sad news, Green Noise will be leaving its Foster location and resettling the record store on Killingworth. You have a little over a month to take advantage of their Foster location, as their last day will be April 23rd. We’ll wish them the best at their new location. And perhaps now would be a good time for any of you to start crafting your business plans with a new retail space potentially available soon.

– On a positive note, we chatted with the owner of the market-to-be at SE 64th and Foster (next door to NWIPA), and he’s still on track to open sometime this spring or early summer. The space is coming along, and the vision should align with many of your hopes for a community-oriented market.

– Guys! We have a doughnut shop in the (sorta) neighborhood! Doe Donuts is located at 8201 SE Powell, and is apparently worthy enough for Portland Monthly to include in their recent listing of plant-based eateries. Coincidentally, they also included Off The Griddle in its list; OTG should be open in the very near future.

Upcoming entertainment:
O’Malley’s- St. Patrick’s Day festivities, open at noon, live music 6-9 pm
SMART Collective- Watefronts//Lovejoy Fountain/Extra!Extra!, Friday at 7:30 pm
Starday Tavern- Buzz Holland Band Happy Hour w/Paula Sinclair (6pm) and St. Patrick’s Day Bash (9:30pm), Friday; All Star Funk Jam, Saturday at 9pm; Rascal Martinez, Sunday
Portland Mercado- Comedy Night, Tuesday at 8pm

Enjoy the weekend, y’all!

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Futpool Portland Nears Opening

img_6742It’s coming. And quicker than you think.

The coolers have beer, the table-tops are ready for play, and new cable hook-ups promise televised soccer at every corner of the building. Love soccer or not, it’ll be the first of its kind in the neighborhood, and probably Portland for that matter: soccer (or futsal) fused with pool on 20-by-10-foot tables.

Here’s what we wrote about the soccer-themed play space (at 6913 SE Foster) in November.

Think gigantic pool table with your foot as the cue stick, soccer balls as the pool balls. Soccer not your thing? Now imagine having a beer, catching a Timbers or Real Madrid IMG_6980match, and watching the evening unfold on Foster from behind the window-front. Perhaps you’ll become a fan soon enough.

The owner is eyeing a soft opening as soon as this weekend, possibly next. Either way, there’s soon to be one less vacant storefront on Foster; a new space for recreation; another place to grab a beer; a new venue for parties; a place to watch soccer. Oh, and they already have their own shirts.

Welcome to Foster, Futpool Portland.

 

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What’s New?

It’s been exactly three weeks since our last post. Times have changed, for sure, and our once-fierce-blogging days have waned quite a bit. And they’ll probably continue to do so until we simply cannot find the time for our Foster love affair anymore…or, at least, share that love with the commitments of work, the joys of parenthood, and the assorted demands that were once only thought to be the domain of old people. To the latter point, I think I’m arriving there. Combined, this unpaid labor of love can only go so far.

But we won’t die off just yet. Just a slow peter.

Ideally, we can stick around long enough to witness some of the prospective changes expected to hit Foster—streetscape improvements, new businesses, etc. Alas, those changes will also define a new era in the neighborhood. And as such, it will provide the perfect escape route for us as Foster enters a new age.

Join us we peter out…slowly (and very sporadically), but ever fascinated with our quirky little strip. We’ll try to make the next couple months fun….

In the next couple weeks, we’ll try to get caught up on the various goings-on in the neighborhood, share some news and updates regarding business and development along Foster, and reacquaint ourselves with 90’s-era hip hop. We’ll also take emails from anyone (really, anyone) who may want to take on a new (old) website and rebrand it as their own.

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