As we begin the new year, we thought we’d take a quick look back at a Portland Monthly article that named Foster-Powell as one of three city-wide “up-and-comers,” and consider where we are now…and where we’re going.
“Though it may seem like an outpost, in reality Foster is only 10 minutes away from Hawthorne and 20 minutes from downtown.
“Slicing diagonally through Southeast Portland’s otherwise rectangular blocks, SE Foster Road looks like some urban planner’s unrealized Parisian fantasy. But the street actually began life as an Indian foot trail to Mount Hood. That may explain the surrounding Foster neighborhood’s Old West ambience: working-class bars, the Gun Room (yes, a weapons store), and Artistic Taxidermy, which has a jaw-dropping array of stuffed and mounted bears, cougars, and ducks.
“But with the nearby Lents urban renewal area extending all the way down Foster Road to SE 49th Avenue, and a future streetcar line already penciled in, this stalwart blue-collar neighborhood could be due for some spiffing up. If formerly disheveled thoroughfares like NE Alberta Street are any indication, a lively mix of storefronts, tree plantings, and thriving neighborhood businesses will soon arrive on the scene.
“As with many of Portland’s great (or in this case, soon-to-be great) hoods, artists sowed the first seeds of rebirth. Most notable is choreographer Linda Austin, who, 10 years ago, founded one of the city’s top DIY dance venues here: Performance Works Northwest. “When I first got here, [Foster] seemed like an outpost,” she says. “But it’s only 10 minutes away from Hawthorne and, on a good day, 20 minutes from downtown.”
“Other early adopters, such as An Xuyen Bakery and Guapo Comics, have recently been joined by the Slingshot Lounge, Foster Burger, Meticon Bikes and—tip your fedora—the Tango Berretin studio. In March, Austin and her partner, Jeff Forbes, unveiled plans for Performance Works’ expansion. Another indication that the curtain may soon be rising on this neighborhood’s best performance yet.”
In some ways not much has changed. Many of the same businesses are maintaining a similar foundation for improvement, pointing toward a burgeoning Foster. And we see more improvements on the way. But aside from the departure of Guapo (sorry to those of you who weren’t lucky enough to enjoy Guapo), this article could have been written today with no edits.
We also know that a lot has changed since 2010. A new streetscape plan has been drafted; new businesses have created added vibrancy to the commercial corridor; the Portland Mercado is slated to take over a long-vacant lot at 72nd and Foster; storefronts have been painted and improved.
If we look back four years from now, what other changes will we see?