Month: April 2009

Portland Development Commission advertisement in the Observer

This week’s Portland Observer, released yesterday, contains a full-page ad from the Portland Development Commission. Interspersed with photos of buildings along the Boulevard and a photograph of Rev. King himself, is text urging readers to “support local merchants” since “local restaurants and store-owners are the backbone of a healthy economy”.

Further text reads:

“The Portland Development Commission believes that economic opportunity should be shared throughout the community. PDC is committed to working with its partners to increase minority home ownership, to create opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, and emerging small businesses, and to value employee diversity.”

Photos on the page include Vanport Square, the Old Town Pizza delivery bicycle, Hankins Hardware, Horn of Africa, Bridges Café, and the building that houses the Eliot E-Mat Café.

Shaver Green: rising, and some thoughts on the n’hood

Two weeks ago: I’m walking down Shaver Street away from MLK, photographing the under-construction Shaver Green lower-income housing complex, when a nearby resident, standing on his front step, notices and stops me to talk. This gentleman, about fifty years old, and with features that could perhaps be gently described as ‘weatherbeaten,’ minces no words as he spits disgust into the air. “Motherfuckers didn’t even let anyone know they were building this piece of garbage,” he says, waving towards Shaver Green.

He’s lived in his house for twenty-two years, he tells me. “Fucking piece of shit,” he calls Shaver Green. “Property owners always get screwed.” He tells me his property taxes have risen a thousand dollars because of Shaver Green (I checked this, and it is not true. Property taxes on the property he lives in have risen two hundred dollars a year over the past decade), and he predicts plenty of fights in the neighborhood over parking, since Shaver Green’s parking lot is tiny.

He, a white man, tells me he liked it when the (Albina) neighborhood was black. He complains of “snitches” in the area. “Can’t do anything now without someone turning you in” to the police, he tells me. He speaks of his neighbors, saying that black folks nearby have kept up their properties and invested in them, while white homeowners have not. His agitation is palpable as he describes his neighborhood in transition and to him, under siege.

Grant Warehouse site: past, present, future.

In days past, the lot between Cook and Ivy on the east side of MLK Boulevard held what came to be known as the Grant Warehouse, as described here and here. This fabled building spent years as a semi-secret storage depot for hazardous chemicals, until the city found out, brought the EPA in to do a clean-up, forced Irwin Grant to sell the building, then tore it down.

Now, the Portland Development Commission has settled on a plan for the site. As the Portland Sentinel noted yesterday, Vern Rifer and Ivy City Homes have submitted a proposal to PDC that has been accepted.

The site will hold ten “live/work” spaces along the Boulevard (such as those that are available in the ground floor of the Graham Street Lofts), with ten housing units above. A further ten housing units will comprise a building set behind the first one, with much of the development in the shape of townhouses.

PDC says that approximately eighteen of the housing units will be “affordable” (quotes are in the Sentinel article), costing from 125-175 thousand. Construction is expected to begin next year, bringing more housing directly onto the Boulevard.

Meanwhile, two weeks someone laid down dirt on this empty lot in the shape of two eyes, and a smile, and planted daffodils in it: