Apartments Coming to Foster?

Foster Road has seen something of a resurgence in the last 5-10 years, albeit slow and with a brief lull in the middle of that span. However, in the last few years that resurgence has sped up a little. This comes as the city announced plans to invest on streetscape and safety improvements; new businesses have been steadily finding their way to Foster; and the Portland Mercado made a bold claim that Foster can be a regional draw.

Screen shot 2015-04-28 at 7.23.03 AMBut what’s been missing amidst the growing night life, new businesses, and increased investment has been housing. Sure, the residential areas have seen an increase in housing density with new infill projects. But what about Foster itself?

While nobody wants to see Division Street happen again, it can be argued that some element of housing along the commercial corridor would go a long way in creating sustainability. The business district needs people. Housing on Foster helps accomplish this.

Screen shot 2015-04-28 at 7.38.06 AMThanks to a tip-off from NextPortland, and according to the Bureau of Development Service’s list of early assistance applications, the YMCA’s Y-Arts Center at 6036 SE Foster is in line for a rebuild that would also include a multi-unit apartment complex. Unfortunately, the BDS document doesn’t provide any more information than that, so we don’t know how many floors or units.

We’ve long said that the stretch of Foster near SE 60th is burgeoning in its own right (see: Nayar Taqueria, Meticon Bikes, FoPo Tavern, Green Noise Records, Velvet Goldmine, Heads High Barbershop, and Tambayan), and adding housing to the mix could make that area a little more vibrant—although, seeing the site plans will be important to make that judgement.

We’ll keep an eye on this and share any details that emerge…

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15 Responses to Apartments Coming to Foster?

  1. malexreed says:

    Honestly, I wouldn’t be (super) sad to see Division St. / Alberta St. / Mississippi / what have you happen again on Foster, and I actually think it would be good for the city. On the bad side, it would price out some (many) renters in the area, it would make the low-priced businesses that I love and patronize either adapt (raise prices and become fancier) or go away and be replaced by high-priced restaurants, and it would slowly whitewash the gritty charm that we love. But there would be more places for people to live, which is sorely needed in this city. The concentration of residents would give us a stronger position to ask for better transit on Foster, and the overall economic vitality of the area would be increased. We might even get a grocery store (albeit a fancy one, but still handy to have if you just need a pint of ice cream or something). Plus better (or at least more – could it possibly be better?) people-watching. In total, I think it’s a plus.

    On the gentrification angle – new housing relieves cost pressure at the metro area, even if in some (many) cases it makes it worse at the neighborhood level. If we don’t build enough housing at the metro area level, the whole greater Portland area becomes unaffordable. That’s the type of gentrification that I’m most worried about. If not enough places in Portland let themselves become Division, then all of Portland becomes San Francisco.

  2. Adam Herstein says:

    Honest question, why – in your opinion – does “nobody want to see Division Street happen again”? I am in favor of the recent development on Division because it creates a walkable, vibrant neighborhood from what used to be car repair shops and vacant lots.

  3. Perhaps “nobody” was an over-generalized assumption.

    It isn’t the development—more density, mixed use buildings, increased walkability—that’s been a turn-off on Division. It was the speed at which it happened and how the city didn’t seem to have a grasp on the planning process, which led to a seeming cluster-fuck of developers acting like it was manifest destiny. I love the idea of walkable neighborhoods, as well as the density it requires (like on Division), but don’t want to see it imbalanced and inequitable. In other words, if Foster turns into “developers gone wild” like on Division, I hope there’s a greater emphasis on affordable housing, good bike infrastructure along the corridor, and retaining a variety of business and industry (i.e. a few less boutiques that cater only to a certain class—though, with that being said, I’m totally on board with less auto shops on Foster).

    • Adam Herstein says:

      Agreed, there should be a bit more planning. I also agree with businesses catering to a certain class of person on Division. I like Division as a destination, but would not want to live there. It’s nearly exclusively spendy restaurants and shops – not even a grocery store. Livability also takes into account how accessible daily tasks are and Division fails on that mark for all but those who have enough disposable income to eat out for every meal.

  4. Amy says:

    I would love to see a little more density in the area, I just hope it’s done right.

  5. I would really like to see the empty buildings (those are usable) rented out as they sit rather than rebuilt in order to keep the funky, older mix we have. Obviously the ones like the old Phoenix Pharmacy and the more decrepit buildings need to be razed and new, mixed use, building put in their place.

  6. Inner Ring says:

    I don’t think the city has any way to control the speed at which development that’s allowed on a site ( or a street) happens. They could add requirements that make it more expensive to develop, which might slow down or stop development. Or, they could just make more expensive development happen. It’s really difficult for the city to gauge how regulations affect development, over time.

    • I’m not sure what’s in the city’s power and not. However, I’d think there’s room for oversight in permitting and design review. And soon, perhaps, some level of meeting affordability criteria.

      • Inner Ring says:

        The city can’t deny a permit to build something that meets all current requirements. If there were a “design review” overlay, it could make it more expensive to develop, depending on the requirements. There would have to (under state law) be a choice between meeting written design standards, or choosing a review with the Design Commission if they want to do something else. That would be the only oversight beyond “does it meet the standards”.

        An affordability requirement is currently not allowed by state law. The law may soon change to allow “inclusionary zoning” for for-sale properties (one of the condos must be available to those of certain income, or one house out of a subdivision, e.g.), but apparently not for rentals, where such controls would still be prohibited under the “rent control” ban. Though, there are incentives being considered in the Mixed Use Zones project for Commercially zone properties.

        So lacking those tools, (or in addition), making it easier to build more units can help keep housing costs from rising so much.

  7. Pingback: Happy Weekend, Foster People! | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

  8. Pingback: Happy Weekend, Foster People! | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

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