* Disclaimer: long post ahead. We’ll just say that we’re making up for a quiet last couple days, as well as the ones to follow leading into the new year.
Here we are, another year of shameless championing of Foster, and another wish list that is not too unlike last year’s version. (Can’t we have our streetscape, already? Or the rapid flash beacons that were promised to make crossing Foster a little safer?)
But unlike last year’s wish (and the one before) of an improved, safer, and beautified Foster, we’re not holding our breath for PBOT to expedite things. Instead, our big wish this year is for property owners along Foster to “shit or get off the pot.” Let me rephrase that: our hope is that the many buildings on Foster that appear vacant and/or in disrepair will see their owners kindly and lovingly bring their properties back to life—or rent, sell, gift their buildings to someone who will.
That’s our wish. You all, however, had a more specific and tangible wish: more food options in the ‘hood; a grocery store and more retail options were a close second and third.
These are all good starting points—infrastructure, amenities, etc. But before we get too down for the things we don’t have, let’s turn our cheer toward what we do have. (See, this post wasn’t going to be all ‘bah humbug-y.’)
Christmas, indeed, came early to Foster. While change seems slow to come to these parts, it’s a long and busy road that can see its improvements and additions obscured by traffic, sirens, and neighboring abandoned buildings. We assure you, though…we did get a few early Christmas presents.
New business in the hood
2014 brought a record store to Foster (Green Noise), a guitar shop (Renaissance Guitars), an arts and craft-making collective (Foster Row), movies to the Bob White Theatre, news of Higgins Boiled Bagels opening a storefront, the Portland Mercado nearing completion, an herb shop (People’s Herbs), yet another salon (Wild at Heart), and new owners and a name change to the former Dusty’s Bar and Grill (now FoPo Tavern). Whoa! That’s a lot.
Foster also got prettied up this year. Again, the sum of all the renovations and sprucing-up has not drastically changed the character of Foster—and sometimes it goes unnoticed amid the hubbub of aforementioned traffic and nearby urban decay—but we’ve noticed, and it goes a long way toward making Foster more “stick around and enjoy” than “drive through on your way to Hawthorne.”
Here’s what we saw: Red Castle Plaza saw its hideous, green awning come down in favor of old, exposed brick and street-facing windows; O’Malley’s got a paint job and new plantings in their sidewalk strip; the Portland Mercado is all kinds of sexy, vibrant, rainbow-y joy; Nayar Taqueria got new windows and not one, but two paint jobs; a vacant, rundown building became fixed-up storefront and record store seemingly overnight; even the Phoenix Pharmacy is slated to get a mural and temporary facelift.
Foster Row, Bar Carlo, and O’Malley’s have given Foster a little more glow recently. Their Christmas lights are a welcome addition, and make for a brighter, more welcoming drive, walk, or bike through the commercial core. Maybe it’s just for the holidays (though, Bar Carlo usually has sidewalk lights), but it’s indicative of the pride of place that may be taking hold on Foster. We still maintain our familiar grit, but Foster has increasingly been blending this grit with a new appeal—a place where people want to visit, hang, and spend more time. Even Santa chose Foster for his annual romp and shenanigan-ism.
So while we remain ever hopeful of a new streetscape, less abandoned buildings, and more places to keep our money in the neighborhood, Foster has found a way to succeed where maybe it had once failed. It has shown a stubborn determination and resiliency that just may be one of its defining characteristics.
If we were to stop posting today, on the day before Christmas, just a week before the start of 2015, we’d feel like we were leaving you all with a much better Foster than we started with just a few years ago. And that’s really all we could have wished for.
Happy Holidays, Foster People. Be cool, and enjoy the figgy pudding.