Bye Bye Busy Bee

IMG_0817First there was. And then there wasn’t.

Busy Bee Cleaners officially met its demise yesterday (though, the business had actually been closed for a while), more than fifty years after its building’s birth in 1963. The building and 4,950 square-foot plot of land was last sold in 1991 for $200,000. PortlandMaps lists its “real market value” at just over $339,000.

IMG_0819We’ve yet to hear what plans for the land are, but one thing we do know is it won’t include the 60s’-era building, which could have been Foster’s answer to Hawthorne’s Space Room.

We also know that the plot of land Busy Bee sat on is deceptively small, as it sits next to a more vast gravel lot which gives the illusion of one large parcel. However, said gravel lot (at 12,500 square feet) is owned by the same person, essentially creating a Screen shot 2015-05-05 at 8.36.21 PMfairly large development opportunity for him or her—unless they intend to sell the land altogether.

Foster is definitely going through a growth phase, so something like this comes as little surprise. I guess what’s surprising—and maybe even saddening—is the loss of a somewhat iconic and, oddly, historically unique architectural artifact. (Ok, maybe some of that’s a stetch. But still.)

IMG_0822It’ll be interesting to see what (if any, other than just demolition) plans are for this lot, especially as development along SE 50th has picked up from Hawthorne to now south of Division, inching ever closer to Powell. At this point, we can only hope that we get something that fits the mold of a soon-to-be more pedestrian and bike friendly Foster.

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10 Responses to Bye Bye Busy Bee

  1. Alex says:

    Something good. PLEASE

  2. Adam Herstein says:

    That would be a great location for housing with ground-floor retail.

  3. Agreed. Mixed-use would be great. Let’s just hope would-be developers realize that Foster will not be as car-centric in the near future. (Read: let’s hope new development is equally as bike and ped-friendly.)

    • malexreed says:

      The “general commercial” zoning is a huge obstacle to the redevelopment being bike- and ped-friendly. It means minimum parking requirements (which means a driveway, and probably a sidewalk-fronting surface parking lot) plus “landscaping” requirements (think neglected strip of grass). Those requirements are a big factor in getting us new development like the Burger King rather than new development like the building holding Asterix Eyeware (which, if I’m not mistaken, could not be built new now due to zoning).

      There were a good handful of comments to this effect (to change general commercial zoning to storefront commercial zoning in this area) in the comprehensive plan update map app, but we may well (probably will) need more pressure on the City to change the zoning if redeveopment will create walkable storefronts on this strip of Foster instead of mini strip malls.

      • Adam Herstein says:

        Per Metro’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan, Foster is set to be rezoned as Mixed Use – Civic Corridor.

        • malexreed says:

          Hey Adam, I’ve been looking at that website! I’m not a planning pro, but I think that “Mixed-Use – Civic Corridor” is a “Comprehensive Plan designation” for planning purposes, not a land-use zone for development purposes – and I think that the land-use/development zones are what matters for what’s allowed to be built on a particular parcel. On the Map App website, the City notes that the existing and proposed future zones are “General Commercial (CG).”

          On this document: , it explains what General Commercial means in general. I think the most crucial part is on p. 130-11, where a table says that General Commercial requires a minimum landscaped area of 15% (Storefront Commercial has no such minimum). Compare this to the commercial district near Foster & Holgate, where there is no landscaped area aside from the parking strip (which I’m not sure counts? Anyone knowledgeable want to verify or correct me on that?).

          Here is the parking part:

          The relevant portions are on p. 266-6 and p. 266-7. General Commercial has a parking minimum. Storefront Commercial has no parking minimum.

          The current zoning is General Commercial for the entirety of Foster, except for the 82nd & Foster, Lents Town Center, and 62nd-67th & Foster areas. Because parking and landscaping minimums more or less enforce a suburban-style, auto-oriented urban form (think the 7-11 at Foster & Holgate), I think that if we want bike/ped/transit-friendly development on Foster, getting the zoning changed for much or all of Foster from General Commercial to Storefront Commercial is a crucial first step.

  4. mabell44 says:

    What’s the environmental cleanup going to have to be to make it usable as a place that serves food or houses people?

    • I don’t know off-hand, but I imagine it’s fairly significant…perhaps part of the reason they’re razing the building instead of re-using it or incorporating it into the development.

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

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