Month: March 2010

Urban Renewal in North/Northeast Portland: gentrification & the PDC.

Jake Thomas writes in this week’s Portland Observer about the possibility of changes to the N/NE Portland urban renewal areas laid out by the Portland Development Commission (PDC), incuding the urban renewal area that encompasses Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

While the prospective changes to the urban renewal areas proposed by the PDC involve the boundaries of the areas, local residents that Thomas spoke with seek changes to the implementation of urban renewal areas.

Karen Gibson (whose article on disinvestment in Albina I referred to in a post yesterday) told Thomas that “We have to do more than develop property.” Ideas mentioned in the article include funding for non-profits, aid to current homeowners and small businesses, and a community land trust to help keep housing in North/Northeast Portland affordable.

I found a PDC video on youtube describing urban renewal in Portland, looking at some of the successes on King Boulevard and Alberta Street, and speculating about what other areas might be ripe for inclusion in urban renewal areas. The narrator notes that “neighborhood residents have expressed a desire to revitalize in an inclusive, grass-roots fashion that respects the diversity of the neighborhood”.

Here’s the video:

a few notes.

The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods is holding a N/NE Neighborhoods Portland Plan Retreat this Saturday. The NECN’s facebook describes it as “retreat for people who live, work and provide services in inner north and northeast Portland. The purpose of this retreat is to come together with our neighbors to identify issues and opportunities that our community is facing and tell the City how we want our community to develop over the next 25 years.”

The Retreat will be held at Curious Comedy, 5225 NE MLK, this Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.Check NECN’s facebook here.

Jack Bogdanski’s blog last week had a post that included a funny photo from the Walgreen’s at Ainsworth & NE MLK. The most interesting part of the post is the recollections by a commenter about the Safeway at the same corner, and a couple of the folks who used to visit the store…

US regulators call on Albina Bank: Heal thyself.

As reported in the Portland Business Journal and at oregonlive.com, federal regulators overseeing the banking industry have laid down requirements for Albina Community Bank to improve its loan portfolio and increase its capital reserves. Albina Bank, headquarted at 2002 NE MLK and with five offices in the city, lost over eight million dollars last year. The bank’s website describes Albina’s mission this way:

We are one of just approximately 61 commercial banks across the country certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury, and we’re here to help inspire you and our local neighborhoods.  Deposits at Albina are reinvested in our local Portland neighborhoods inspiring jobs, wealth and success.

FoxBusiness.com quotes Cheryl Cebula, President & Chief Operating Officer of Albina Bank, as saying that “[w]e continue our commitment to supporting our customers in the Portland communities, and are seeing significant growth in new business and new customer relationships. Portland is our home and we have a unique and meaningful social mission to fulfill here. Our customers are responding to our local banking approach and are bringing deposits to us. In fact, our core deposit base has grown substantially from a year ago.”

Founded in 1995, Albina Community Bank absorbed American State Bank, formerly the Freedom Bank of Finance, about a decade ago. The Freedom Bank of Finance opened in 1969 by Venerable F. Booker, who saw a need for a community lender in North/Northeast Portland. Freedom Bank of Finance/American State Bank spent thirty years on Union Avenue/MLK Boulevard until its absorption by Albina Bank, all but a few months at 2737 NE MLK (CrossFit MLK now occupies the building).

Karen Gibson, Portland State professor of urban studies and planning, notes in her fascinating article “Bleeding Albina: A History of Community Disinvestment, 1940-2000″ that Booker opened the Freedom Bank of Finance to address the severe reluctance of banks to lend to Albina residents so that they might buy a home, or make home improvements. Along the way, Booker fought to keep the federal government from discriminating against black-owned banks in its distribution of deposits.

Gibson’s article can be read here; I highly recommend it as a primer to understanding how Albina was permitted & encouraged to deteriorate, and what present-day gentrification looks like in Albina. I found the link to her article on Will Bennett’s Golden West Project website, a blog devoted to African-American historical concerns in Portland.

Shots at The Shop.

The Shop, a contractors’ services agency, is housed in the building at 4867 NE MLK. Here are some photos I’ve taken of the building, and its adjacent lot:

Portland Maps tells us that the building was constructed in 1924; for a couple of decades it housed a firehouse, known as Chemical Engine 14 (at 4867 NE Union Avenue, as it was known then).

Spiffin’ Up MLK 2010: Help clean up the boulevard!

Join SOLV and area volunteers in cleaning up MLK Boulevard’s sidewalks and empty lots on Saturday, April 17th.

From SOLV’s website:

Spiffin Up MLK is an annual community work-party and celebration to pick up the boulevard and adjacent streets and help neighbors with specific projects. The celebration will have community resources and information. Activities include: Litter Pickup, light yard work. Lunch, Celebration, Raffle, Entertainment

Register to help with Spiffin’ Up MLK  via SOLV’s online form.

Here’s a video of first SOLV’s first volunteer community clean-up of MLK Boulevard in 2007:

“The Going Gets Easier at MLK”; Dekum Street on facebook.

Check out Jonathan Maus’ write-up at bikeportland.org on the city’s changes to MLK Boulevard at NE Going, posted today. He describes how the changes to MLK are a major part of the Going Street Bicycle Boulevard project, which will improve the roadway on Going for bicyclists from N. Vancouver to NE 72nd Avenue.

Maus has great pictures on his post, so I won’t add any!

It’s Happening on Dekum is a nifty facebook page with photos and events about NE Dekum Street in Portland. I’m glad to have found it!

Percussive oddity.

This strange apparatus appeared on a telephone pole at NE MLK & Hancock:

It has a metal can, a tightly coiled metal spring leading from the can to its backboard, a string with large bells on it, and a wooden stick at the end of the spring.

Hitting the can with the stick didn’t produce much sound, but yanking on the coiled spring and letting its reverberation ring through the can made a pretty amazing sound. Check it out for yourself!

Grant Warehouse Project Open House tonight.

From the Portland Development Commission:

Monday, March 15, 2010
5:30 – 7:30 PM

The Grant Warehouse Project, located at 3368 NE Martin Luther KingJr. Blvd in the Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area is [a] housing project consisting of 30 units, 18 of which will be permanently affordable. This is an opportunity for community members
to review  and comment on the various design plans for the project.

Contact:
Joleen Jensen-Classen, Public Participation Manager, 503-823-3352

Location:
Old Town Pizza
Vanport Square
5021 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Transit Stop:
Bus #6 stop 5952

More on the Grant Warehouse site here, here, here, there, and especially here. The history of the Grant Warehouse was the first story that captivated me when I began researching the history of Union Avenue/Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.