The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.