Month: April 2008

Vanport Square

Vanport Square is the new development on MLK between Alberta and Killingsworth.  It is supposed to contain a new 24 Hour Fitness, but all it has so far is an ugly, ugly sign:

Actually, it has a few other features: a nice stone pavilion and garden in front; a beauty supply store (suddenly, these are common on MLK!), and a sign announcing the new home of Horn of Africa.  There are also numerous empty storefronts and what appears to be some office space.  For all the hoopla announcing the building of Vanport Square, it remains to be seen what it will add to MLK.

Venue is Back!

Well, actually, it just closed. Venue, which last year replaced Billy Reed’s in the Standard Dairy building, closed last month (according to a person working next door at the Eliot E-Mat Café. On craigslist, the owners of Venue are selling off what equipment is left from the restaurant. I never made it into Venue, so I can’t say what it was like (Billy Reed’s closed in 2006, so Venue was less than two years in operation), nor have I seen any press on its closing and can’t find any info online about it. We’ll see what happens next with the space.

Streetcar on MLK?

The Portland Streetcar Systems Project, headed up by City Commissioner Sam Adams, is narrowing the choices for future streetcar routes, and Northeast Portland has a slew of proposed routes still under consideration. Possible streetcar lines could run on Vancouver/Williams from the rose quarter north (this seems like a likely choice to me, since these streets have relatively little traffic compared to MLK), and MLK Boulevard from Broadway to Lombard.

Other possible routes in inner Northeast include Sandy out to 102nd; Alberta; Killingsworth; and Adams’ controversial Burnside streetcar route, to be bundled with a switch to creating one-way streets on Burnside and Couch. A streetcar line on Fremont Street was eliminated from consideration earlier this year.

Is MLK already carrying too much traffic to accomodate a streetcar? Is it the sort of transit artery better served by buses? The street definitely needs more buses in the short-term, as they are full at both rush hours. Would Williams/Vancouver be a better route for a north-south street car because it carries less autos than MLK does?

MLK Heritage Markers

The Portland Development Commission is looking at developing a ‘gateway site’ on MLK that will announce entry into the neighborhood, and ‘heritage markers’ to be placed along the boulevard itself. From the PDC website:

PDC and PDOT would like to begin to work with the community to develop a Concept Master Plan for the redevelopment of the gateway site into Portland’s inner northeast neighborhoods and for a series of heritage markers along NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. This project aims to fulfill the goals of the Albina Community Plan and other community plans to enhance the identity of the inner northeast neighborhoods.

The Albina Community Plan (1993), Eliot Neighborhood Plan (1993), Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Transportation Project (1998), and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Action Plan (2006) call for the identification of a gateway at the intersection of NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and NE Grand commemorating Dr. King. These documents suggest that a gateway should also enhance the pedestrian environment, incorporate multicultural public art, and announce the entrance to a historic area of Portland.

The PDC webpage also asks for public suggestions and comment on what the gateway site might look like, and on the heritage markers. Also on that page are links to proposed designs for the gateway site and heritage markers, linked as PDF files. The designs look nifty, particularly the ‘story benches.’ It will be very interesting to see what the city intends to do with the curvy stretch of Grand between Hancock and Schuyler, the block that ‘announces’ you are entering inner Northeast.

For my part, I’m going to try to obtain copies of the action plans mentioned above.

Spiffin’ Up, continued

The Gandhi-funkers played on to wrap up the HandsOnPortland event, and I snapped this shot of the sign announcing that the lot at Fargo and (west) MLK is for sale:

From a distance the Wright Commercial logo looks like a hand flipping the bird, but close up it isn’t so bad. Wright Commercial controls other properties on MLK, as we’ll see over the course of this blog.
Friends of Trees, an organization headquarted on MLK, helped organize the event, along with NNEBA and SOLV.

spiffin




spiffin

Originally uploaded by heddalee

I decided yesterday that I wanted to start a blog where I could talk about and display photos of the changes happening on MLK Jr Boulevard in Portland, particularly the stretch of blocks from Broadway to Dekum Streets. By coincidence, HandsOnPortland organized a cleanup on MLK today, called Spiffin’ Up Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. I missed the cleanup itself, though I did wander by one of MLK’s too-numerous empty lots on Fargo and MLK the west side of the street), where the Spiffin’ Up afterparty was taking place. There was a jam band, which was singing about “G Funk- got to get your Gandhi Funk,” as well as some tents and a bbq set up, and a half-dozen or so spectators.

the NNEBA on this banner is the North/Northeast Business Association (referring to North/Northeast Portland).