Just like some high school clique, someone’s always gotta be on the outs.
And in the Foster area, the “improvement gods” can only shine so much light on our gritty thoroughfare, despite an obvious energy pulling it in an upward trajectory. As such, we see progress…and we see setbacks.
First, the good news: The Bob White Theatre is back. Not that it was gone, but it was certainly on its way to becoming an oversized storage space for unused theater seating. Fortunately, someone else has the money to do what we all wish we could do with the space. That someone is Zachariah White, along with event organizer, Pulsar Productions.
Before you all get too excited, let’s remember that the cost of installing a digital projector is a lot. In other words, movies are not imminent. At least not in the way you all envision (hint: pizza, beer, and second-run flicks a la the Academy Theater—we never said Pulsar had a lot of money, just more than us). But, that doesn’t mean the Bob White can’t be a rad space. And hopefully White and Pulsar can prove that. And maybe, just maybe, movies become part of their plan down the road. For now, though, Pulsar is leasing the property in a “get-to-know-the-owner/prove-to-owner-our-model-works” type of deal.
The folks behind the new operation spoke at Monday’s neighborhood association meeting, where they discussed their background and plans for the space. For the time being, they intend to take things slow as they seek community feedback. And that’s where you come in. While Pulsar has filled the niche of dance party organizers/promoters in the past, they seek to use the Bob White for a variety of uses. For example, in addition to live music shows, they’d like to see the warehouse used on a regular (daily?) basis for other creative uses. One idea was to open some of the space up to artists or screen printers, who would then sublease some of the warehouse.
Ideally, while the Bob White generates revenue being leased out, its owner, Nick Storie, will then be able to make continued renovations. And while no major transformations are imminent, the marquee will remain lit on most evenings in a nod to the theater’s (hopeful) rebirth.
Unfortunately, as the Bob White finds new energy, an iconic building around the corner will remain vacant for a while longer. The Wikman Building, located just north of Laurelwood Park at 4420 SE 64th Ave, has been the focus of Rose Community Development since 2012, as they’ve sought to acquire the building from Multnomah County. For over a year, the site has been eyed by Rose and its coalition of stakeholders as a potential community center, where a mix of uses/businesses could be supported by and cater to the surrounding neighborhood (i.e. business incubator, child care center, internet cafe, etc). This plan hinged on piecing together a financial plan that the County felt comfortable with. Just last week, however, the County notified the coalition that they lacked an anchor tenant and sufficient revenue projections to purchase the building. This has all but ended the process of taking over the site, which was deemed as surplus property by the County last year. A request for proposals will be submitted by the County to seek a new buyer.