Foster Streetscape timeline gets a new wrinkle

In a parallel universe, Foster Road is lined with street trees and ornamental lighting. Pedestrians don’t have to wait for car after to car to speed past them before a break provides a safe moment to cross; crosswalks would be lit, traffic would be slowed, and you would have fewer lanes to cross. Bike lanes would combine with the new pedestrian-friendly atmosphere to bring more and more people out of their cars and linger along the corridor instead of speeding by. Getting the kids to school in the morning is no longer a question of whether the rush-hour commuters will stop to allow safe passage.

foster-road-bannerstreetscapeAlas, that vision adopted by the city in 2014, which was more than a decade after a previous plan for Foster had been drafted and adopted, has yet to come to fruition. And, likely, there will be another year that lapses before any sign of activity on the project.

Welcome to “Foster Streetscape Delays Redux.”

We’ll spare you most of the details, but here’s the somewhat brief rundown on why we won’t see traffic and safety improvements to Foster until mid-2018 at the earliest:

As we shared in September when design/engineering was at 60%, PBOT still anticipated construction for the Foster Streetscape Plan to commence this spring. In other words, sometime between now and June. Fast forward to this last February, when that timeline shifted due to an influx of funding from the Fix Our Streets campaign, which allowed PBOT to incorporate a much-needed repaving of Foster (from SE 82nd to 90th) into the project. And as we explained a couple months ago, that wrinkle, albeit a positive development, forced planners to split the project into two: an eastern portion and a western. The eastern portion was designated to go first, which is what ultimately pushed the spring 2017 start date (for the west) to spring 2018.

All of the above (detailed more in February post) still holds true. Sort of. The repaving project in Lents initially sparked concerns that the use of federal funds for the project—I believe we have $3.25 million from the feds for the Foster Streetscape—would trigger a series of environmental requirements that would make the project less feasible. Most of those requirements centered on stormwater treatment, such as the need for bioswales, etc. The splitting of the projects, in effect, was somewhat of a run-around of those requirements, as the federal funds would have been parceled out to the western stretch, leaving the feds out of the eastern half of the project.

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PBOT rendering of planned cross-sections

As it turns out, though, the feds saw the splitting of the project as a “run-around” too, which prompted PBOT to bring the separate projects back into one. As such, there will still be some environmental requirements, and we’ll now see a few bioswales added to the design. Rich Newlands, project manager for PBOT, attended Monday’s Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association meeting to articulate all these changes. While many more details were offered to describe the process PBOT has gone through, the main changes that result are: design/engineering will be prolonged to reflect new stormwater treatment requirements, with said design/engineering expected to hit 100% in July; subsequent delay in when the project goes to bid, expected to be at the end of fall; construction would start no earlier than March 2018. The only change to the physical project will be the addition of bioswales—one is expected to be constructed at SE 51st, where a mixed-use project is planned for development at the former Busy Bee lot; across the street from that project by Diane’s; one more at SE 54th.

In regards to the updated timeline, Newlands did acknowledge that a March 2018 construction start does not necessarily mean we’ll see movement along the western stretch of Foster at that time. The actual timeline for construction phasing will be determined by the contractor who wins the bid for the project. It is unknown if both ends of Foster would be worked on simultaneously, or one before the other. Newlands offered, too, that re-engineering the timing of traffic lights at SE Holgate and SE 72nd will require a few months of lead time, which realistically means the western stretch of Foster wouldn’t see much activity during the first few months of construction.

All of this is to say that, yes, the Foster Streetscape Plan is still a go in the eyes of PBOT. The timeline has become a bit a wishy-washy, though, and the most realistic and earliest start to construction will be sometime around summer next year. Hopefully this will be the last time we have to provide an update before construction actually starts.

For those in the neighborhood who have been working to advocate for this project for 15+ years, we’d like to give you a shout-out. Ditto for those who have joined at some point along the way. Hopefully all the advocacy creates a safe and beautiful Foster.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

Welcome to your Foster weekend, where a little bit of wet and gray does nothing to alter your chances for a bit of live music, a happy hour (or two), breakfast or dinner in the hood, an art walk, and/or some spring gardening. We may get some sun breaks—don’t hold your breath—so find a way to get out in the neighborhood.

Here are your weekend tidbits…

– The big happening this weekend is Second Saturday Foster Art Walk. It’s hard to believe we’re more than a year into the monthly art walk, and, at this point, we’ll assume it’s fully entrenched as “a thing.” We can confirm the following venues will have some form of art on display (and maybe some drinks and snacks) for April’s showing:
Darling Press Studio- Laminations: Lamentations and Luminations, new works by Andy Matia, 5 – 9 p.m.
Po Boy Art Gallery and Framing- Jim Mazza art opening w/DJ Joel Barber and more, 2 – 8 p.m.
Latchkey Gallery- Opening reception for Artis Jeff Chase, 4 – 8 p.m.
Flat Blak Gallery- One Night Stand: Portland artists Murphy Welch and Ethan Walsh exhibit, 5 – 8 p.m.
Wild at Heart Salon- The art of Annie Breedy
Backstory Books- Opening reception for the paintings of Christine Schulbach, 4 – 8 p.m.
NWIPA- Reception for Vicki Wilson’s ceramic sculptural installation, Growing Resistance, 6 – 10 p.m.

– Not sure how we missed this last month, but March marked the 10-year anniversary for Slingshot Lounge in the neighborhood. They obviously are doing it right over there—everything from the unpretentious but just-hip-enough vibe to the grimy bathroom graffiti; laid back booths and game room to the outdoor patio; and that chicken parm sandwich. Congrats, y’all. Keep doing what you do.

– Um, and a big shout out to Pieper Cafe, who is celebrating year number 5 this month! We heart you….

– And not to be forgotten, Portland Mercado will be celebrating their second anniversary this month, as well.

– Earlier this week we posted about some comings and goings in the neighborhood, including the departure of Raven Ink Tattoo and Green Noise Records, as well as the incoming Off The Griddle, the mixed-use development planned across from Portland Mercado, and a development on Powell that will bring a multi-story self-storage facility to the neighborhood.

– The backroom at Foster Burger is currently being renovated, and the once spill-over and meeting room space is, apparently, slated to become a bar. It’s unclear what the connection to Foster Burger will be, but we hear it’ll be more of a separate entity than an expansion of the current restaurant. We could also be totally wrong—more to come as we get a bit more clarification.

Here’s your weekend entertainment:
Starday Tavern- Buzz Holland Band Happy Hour w/Paula Sinclair (6 p.m.) and The Craftsmen (9 p.m.), Friday; The Soultone Band, Saturday at 9 p.m.

Enjoy the weekend, y’all…

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Comings and Goings

Despite its seeming stagnancy, the changes along Foster continue. Some are positive, some are sad. Some are smaller scale, others quite large.

Here are a few updates on some of the comings and goings along the strip (as well as one on SE Powell):

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Holst Architecture renderings of SE 72nd and Foster project

72F   The proposed mixed-use development across the street from Portland Mercado takes another step forward. Per the city’s Bureau of Development Services, Holst Architecture and the Portland Housing Bureau have submitted applications for commercial building permits at the 7120 SE Foster location. As we’ve shared before, the development still calls for three stories of affordable housing atop ground floor retail. The four-story building will include 101 apartments, up to 10,000 square-feet of commercial space, as well as room for Asian Health & Services Center to provide health and community services. You can read more about the project from the architect, the city, and what we last wrote in July.

Off The Griddle   The veggie burger joint has not announced an opening yet. But they’re close. Renovations are mostly complete, the bar is stocked, and menu is being prepared. IMG_7145While you can expect the original OTG Burger, it appears that there will be 7 beers on tap, some wine offering, and liquor for cocktails.

Green Noise Records   Sadly, the mostly-punk record store operating next to Nayar Taqueria will be leaving its Foster location April 23rd. We wish them luck as they venture northward to N. Killingsworth. While the storefront is a little unpolished, this could be a great location for a business-to-be, as they would call Nayar and Meticon Bikes neighbors, as well as the book store, tattoo shop, restaurant, and two art galleries across the street.

Raven Ink Tattoo   The tattoo shop next to Da Hui will also be leaving us if rumors are true. Perhaps they already have. If true, and you know someone who’d love to locate their business next to Pieper Cafe, the soon-to-be Off the Griddle, and the aforementioned Da Hui, there could be a commercial space available soon.

60th and Powell   According to the city and PortlandMaps, the Dennis’ 7 Dees property is nearing its transformation, too. A developer has submitted applications for Land Use and Design  Review for a proposed self-storage facility at the nursery site, which most likely spells doom for the current garden center. The proposed three-story building will be different than most self-storage facilities we’re familiar with—the developer builds storage facilities that more resemble mixed-use lofts than they do the typical drive-up facilities, it won’t be a 24-hour facility, will be heavily landscaped, and may include Powell-facing community space on the ground floor. To the latter point, the community space would be concession to neighbors who seek more positive energy at the street level, as well as, possibly, a space for the South Tabor Neighborhood Association (or other community groups) to meet.

Know of any other comings and goings? Let us know.

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Happy Weekend, Foster People!

Ok, we might be on to something here, folks: high-50’s this weekend, a good amount of sun, and then hitting the low-60’s by midweek. Perhaps spring really is here! Enjoy, y’all…

Here are your weekend tidbits:

– Has anyone been to Futpool Portland since its opening? We’re curious how the gaming goes.

– Speaking of Futpool Portland, we thought we’d throw some love toward that small stretch of businesses that occupy the 6900 block of Foster. If you need skateboard apparel, art, clothing, vintage/retro furniture, wanna catch live music or televised soccer, get your dog groomed, or play futpool, that stretch has you covered. Much love to I Heart Retro, SMART Collective, and Pupdo’s Pet Grooming for holding down that part of the strip for the last couple years. And best of luck to Futpool Portland as they join them.

– Some of you may have noticed the canopy that is now covering the outdoor patio at Bar Maven. It’s a welcome addition until the rain fades away. And more immediately, too, it will help ensure the patio can host such events as Ninkasi’s Dino Patio Party this Saturday. Check ’em out for some dinosaur-themed double IPAs, as well as a couple new beers they’ve concocted. Plus swag.

– For the runners out there…the FoPo Run Club wants you! Here’s a description from the group, who asked to share the love with you all:
  “We are a new Run Club in Foster-Powell!! We run “the wedge” aka the Foster-Powell triangle every Wednesday at 6:30 pm. We start at Starday Tavern, and runners have the option of doing a 2.5 (mile) triangle or 4.5 (mile) triangle route. All paces are welcomed.
  “On the last Wednesday of the month we switch things up and start/end at a local restaurant.
  “We are a group of runners that supports our local community and embraces everything about our neighborhood. We live/work/play in Southeast Portland, and we call FoPo (and the surrounding neighborhoods) our home.
  “Look for us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as FoPo Run Club.”
Any inquiries email: foporunclub@gmail.com

Here’s your weekend entertainment:
Starday Tavern- Get Down w/Mr. Musu, Friday at 9pm; Deephaus, Saturday at 9pm; The Quags (6 pm) and Chill Out w/Chaz Lake (9 pm), Sunday
Bar Maven- Ninkasi Dino Patio Party, Saturday at 5pm

Let us know what else is happening in and around the neighborhood. Be cool, y’all…

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Throwback Thursday

Forgive of us for waxing nostalgic. But while we’re on the theme of change, we thought we’d share this picture of a picture of a picture we posted a couple years ago…along with, well, an updated version from the same location.

Here’s the original.*
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Perspective is everything. Fast forward a couple years…

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Sadly, the original photo is no longer on the pole, though remnants are.

Notice the transformation of the (barely shown) building on the right (which was once a used clothing store, now housing 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu), and, lastly, the three-story apartment building in the background.

* Unfortunately, we’re unable to give credit to the person responsible for the photo (once) on the pole.  We wish we could, though. 

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Foster: seven years later

img_5779Portland Monthly recently released its April issue, which represents the magazine’s yearly look at the city’s neighborhoods. While the magazine offers commentary on neighborhoods’ offerings for young families, food and drink, or best values in relation to housing costs and proximity to amenities, it also breaks down each of the city’s statistical standings based on population, park space, real estate prices, crime, etc.

This year’s addition makes no special mention of Foster-area neighborhoods, in particular, other than to suggest that home prices here still represent a decent value compared to other “close-in” neighborhoods. But, after reading the issue, we were prompted to go back and look at other issues from years past. And then we were reminded of a post we wrote three years ago about the state of the neighborhood. In that post, we took a look back at the 2010 Portland Monthly neighborhood issue, in which Foster-Powell (and the inner Foster-area in general—Mt. Scott-Arleta and Creston-Kenilworth included) was listed as one of three “up-and-coming” neighborhoods in the city to keep an eye on.

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Before our beloved Pieper Cafe set up shop at the corner of SE 65th and Foster, Yo Mama’s Coffee and Tea House was Da Hui’s next door neighbor

Nearly seven years later, we thought we’d take another look. And what we found, despite rising home prices, a few new businesses, proposed mixed-use developments, and the constant  ring of “potential,” is that Foster is still very decidedly Foster.

Our post three years ago referenced a then-four-year-old article that pointed to places like Tango Berretin, Performance Works NW, An Xuyen, the Gun Room and Artistic Taxidermy, Meticon Bikes, Slingshot, and Foster Burger, as evidence the “old west ambiance” of Foster was tapping into an “urban planner’s unrealized Parisian dream.”

And as we pointed out three years ago, not much had changed since that 2010 article (except for the sad passing of Guapo Comics and Coffee—RIP!). Sure, there were some subtle (and not so subtle) shifts—housing prices increased, a few businesses came and went, the Foster Streetscape Plan was approved—but the same ring of “promise” still echoed without the major transformation that some had expected.

And to an extent, that’s still the case today…even seven years later. And, perhaps, it’s totally ok. Sure, the pace of change may not be fast enough for some; for others, it may be too fast. Somewhere in the middle, though, there’s something refreshing about Foster still being Foster.

But while Foster still maintains that rough-and-tumble aesthetic, when we dig a little, the subtle changes may actually not be so subtle. There are three mixed-use housing developments  proposed between SE 51st and SE 72nd, of which could bring more commercial space and nearly 200 units of housing to the corridor in the next couple years; new businesses continue to find homes in the district, some of which could not have survived in this part of Portland seven years ago; the surrounding residential areas have seen home values nearly double in a short amount of time.

So with the “old west ambience” meets “unrealized Parisian dream” as the backdrop, where are we now? In some ways, as we’ve suggested, not too far from where we were in 2010. Many of the same businesses that formed the district’s identity in 2010 continue to do so today; Foster is probably more East Portland than it is Hawthorne; and many are still waiting for all the touted potential to be realized.

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Renderings of a proposed mixed-use development across the street from Portland Mercado 

In others ways, like we implied above, the change has actually been dramatic. You can get Stumptown Coffee at Pieper Cafe, Water Avenue Coffee at Speedboat, and there’s a third coffee shop at Portland Mercado; Foster Row, a former drapery, now houses several artists, crafters and makers, in a commercial-arts collective across the street from Devil’s Point; Portland Mercado has reshaped an entire section of the corridor, bringing visitors from all over the city, and, soon, a mixed-use commercial and housing development will spring up across the street; a bottle shop, game store, yoga studio, kids’ toy shop, and (soon-to-be) vegan burger restaurant no longer seem out of character for Foster; live music is a regular occurrence at multiple Foster bars; we now have four tattoo parlors; several art studios and galleries have opened in the last couple years; we even have a new, state-of-the-art and renowned recording studio operating out of one the neighborhood’s historic buildings.

In reality, a lot has changed on Foster. But not so much that it doesn’t resemble itself anymore. And as refreshing as that may be, it might not be the case in another seven years. We’re in for a wild ride, folks…

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