Within a year’s time, Foster Road very well could see the construction of its long-anticipated Streetscape Project, as well as the addition of three, four-story mixed-use projects that’ll add a combined 188 units of housing to the corridor between SE 50th and SE 72nd.
It wasn’t long ago that a new bar or coffee shop was big news. Now large-scale projects may be the flavor du jour. Over the last couple weeks, we’ve shared updates on two such projects—72Foster, across the street from Portland Mercado, and the YMCA rebuild, which will include housing as part of the development.
Now, a third comes into focus: a Foster housing and retail project that’ll combine for a four-story development on the lot once occupied Busy Bee Cleaners. And while Busy Bee once joined forces with the Burger King across the street to inform drivers of what kind of neighborhood Foster would guide them through, a new landmark will now indicate what and where the neighborhood is heading. According to the architects of the project, Scott / Edwards Architecture, the mixed-use building will serve as “gateway to this rapidly growing neighborhood.”
As proposed, the development will include 33 units of housing above ground-floor retail space. While this does not sound like a large project—the 72nd and Foster will have 101 units, they YMCA adds 54—the location and design may be the more significant components. If there was a location in the neighborhood that more emphasized Foster’s mostly car-centric past, we’d be shocked. This stretch of Foster breaks off of SE Powell, a state highway, and is quickly received by a fast food restaurant with large parking lot and drive-through; the post office has a sorting center here; Speedboat Coffee once catered to the hoards of driversby with a drive-up window (before a dispute with a neighboring business); and the two-block triangle is bordered in by SE 52nd, which is perpetually backed up.
Now, there will be something that says, “People live here.” And it’ll look nice, too. Say what you want about the prototypical Portland mixed-use project—four floors, retail space on bottom, and a fancy but uninspiring and generic facade—but there’s something to be said about a diversity of architectural styles. And this project will add diversity to the corridor, if not a “gateway” that the architects intend. It will also part with the neighborhood’s car-centric past, too, by minimizing parking to 16 spots. This may scare some, but it does well to take advantage of major bus lines and bikeways that run near that intersection.
How the changes impact the overall character of the neighborhood will remain to be seen (though, some can safely speculate). But at the very least, Foster is starting to put a small dent in the city’s housing crisis.
RIP Busy Bee. RIP Old Foster.