The Portland Development Commission posted to youtube this video of the Action Plan for redevelopment strategy for MLK Boulevard. Thanks for this find to nifty local blogger J.D.S., whose Salvage Heart blog touches on MLK redevelopment, including recent posts on Anita Smith, and some comments on the difficulties faced by tenant-deficient Heritage and Fremont buildings on MLK.
The Heritage Building, located between Shaver and Failing on the east side of MLK, has not been able to attract enough tenants to its office space and Albina Community Bank has scheduled a foreclosure sale, according to Ryan Frank in last week’s Oregonian. The Heritage Building project, its building renovated in 2006 with the addition of two floors above street level to create additional office space, is in default to loans to both Albina Bank and the Portland Development Commission. Frank’s article notes that King’s Crossing (also known as The Fremont Building) at Fremont and MLK is struggling to attract tenants to its above-ground-level offices.
The Heritage Building appears to have a couple of stable street-level tenants: Hawkins Hardware, and No Limit Martial Arts. The building itself, according to the PDC, is “the first LEED Gold certified building in inner Northeast Portland.”
Across the street from HB’s and down a few blocks, a bar that intentionally reaches out to different portland communities seems to be thriving. I remember when this spot held a grunge/punk bar called Chances, but according to this nice write-up that ran in the Oregonian recently, bar manager and soon-to-be owner Dale Acelar turned it into Kiknbaque in 2006. I’ve been in the Kinkbaque before, but only in the early evening when it was quiet; it seemed to have nice energy. The article makes it sound like a pretty nice hangout place, so I think I’ll check it out again soon.
A full-page article in today’s Willamette Week gave Hannah Bea’s owner Anita Smith an opportunity to lash out at the Portland Development Commission, gentrification, and “white people” who pushed blacks out on inner Northeast Portland. She says that for blacks, “Gresham is our new reservation.”
One thing is certain: MLK will miss Anita Smith’s outspokenness, and Portland journalists will as well – she has been the ‘voice’ of MLK Boulevard for several years in the local papers.
The article notes that Smith will hold a fundraiser at H. Bea’s this Saturday to help cover her final bills.
Meanwhile, the storefront next to Hannah Bea’s, formerly home to Vicious Cycle, sits empty a couple of years after VC headed to Interstate. A 2007 article in the Tribune notes this about Vicious Cycle owner Raschel Barton’s experience of owning a shop on MLK:
Vicious Cycle paid $7,000 for a zoning variance in its last location on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, after Barton learned from city officials that the old BMW repair shop she leased had been zoned residential.
Pretty stiff, especially since it wasn’t as though people were demanding to be able to build residential properties on MLK some years ago.
The sign below was attached to an MLK fencepost. I called the phone number and chatted with Daniel Hernandez, who reports that he rents this equipment for a hundred dollars a party, but discounted to churches, as he does this as a “service to the Lord.” He has different characters he can inflate (Dora the Explorer, for example) and attach to the “inflatable,” but alays the inflatable will have the sign that says “Jesus loves you” on it.
“functional glass” – this made me chuckle:
fake fire at Old Town Pizza in Vanport Square:
billboard between E. Sumner and Webster:
plaque outside the Standard Dairy building:
In the post below on the Grant Warehouse site (the notoriously toxic chemical warehouse owned by Erwin Grant until the city enlisted the federal government in a cleanup of the site, and then bought the land and tore the warehouse down), I *again* posted a picture of the wrong site, I believe. The photo on the post below is the south half of the land between Cook and Ivy; the Grant Warehouse seems to have been on the north parcel, as pictured here:
If you check out this environmental assessment of the property done for the Portland Development Commission, you can see a picture of the Warehouse itself (and in the background, the old King Grocery that stood at Fremont and MLK for so long). I’m excited to have found a picture of the building; it triggered my memory of seeing the warehouse years ago.
I was chatting with a woman, Jamie, who was letting her dog, Marley, play in the south (fenced-in) half of the Cook to Ivy block. She lives in the townhouses on Cook that abut this piece of land, and she told me that when she moved in, she had to sign an acknowledgment that she understood that asbestos might be in the ground in the area near her home. She said she remembers the Warehouse before it was torn down; she remembers that the south half of the block was occupied by Ephraim’s Body Shop until Ephraim headed out to open a body shop elsewhere.
Of course, both halves of the block edging MLK are now empty lots. I couldn’t find any documentation on the Body Shop; it’s possible that the small building pictured next to the warehouse in the Environmental Assessment linked above was the body shop. The document also confirms that extensive soil testing was conducted on the block, due in part because the block had been used as a service station in the past and underground storage tanks posed a threat of contaminants. No major levels of contaminants were found in the soil, and the PDC was free to move forward with finding possible developers to make use of the land.
I suspect there’s still more to learn about this block!