Saturday, December 6, 2014

If You Build it, they Will Come...?

If you read the title above in your best James Earl Jones voice circa Field of Dreams in 1989, spot on my friends. After living in the Foster neighborhood for a year and a half we are loving our home, loving the neighbors, and loving the neighborhood (I say that last one with my finger in the air, a pinch your nose sort of tone, followed by a "....but" implying there are just a few caveats). In the time spent living one block south of Foster rd. I have gotten  to see the good, the gritty, and the shitty gritty sides of the street. So without further ado, let's get right down to the real nitty gritty shall we:

In a city where every main street is filling in with condos, the rumor mill (aka the news) states that Portland is bracing for  its population to double in the next 20 years,  I find it odd that in the Foster neighborhood development is trudging along (two steps forward one step back). Don't get me wrong, Foster is filled to the brim with charming eats, drinks, and walkable to dos (here, here, here, here....). There is a good gritty feel to the neighborhood,  a variety of people, and some shops that reflect a diverse demographic. 

The shitty gritty mentioned above are the vacant buildings that sit glumly (with the occasional adorned boarded window), and the plethora of adult shops.  I'm referring to the 3 adult shops that line the blocks between 52nd and 54th on Foster rd. (not to mention the Strip club on the same block). I get it, humans have basic needs that get met in a variety of ways. For me placing 3 adult shops that  openly state on their website such services as "rub downs,"  and have colorful phrases on their signs such as "santa's little ho ho hoes," makes me wish the neighborhood would pick up its pace on changing (Couldn't we close down at least two of the three? Three is excessive.).  

I will note, within a year we have seen some really fantastic businesses move in  (Renaissance Guitars, Mid Point Cafe, Foster Row...which houses a variety of makers and creators, and Nayar Taqueria).  It seems like Foster could use some outside neighborhood development love to get the extra boost of TLC it needs. The City has plans for a future streetscape renovation which will change Foster road (in a nut shell: increased bike traffic, decreased car traffic, less lanes).  With the rate it has taken to get a streetscape plan passed (10 years, I believe ), and the history of pushing development dates back in this neighborhood, I'm concerned that a 2016 building start will turn into a much later date. 

It seems neighborhoods like Division have drastically changed in less then two years.  I don't imagine or want this type of change for Foster. Whatever happens next on Foster I hope is a balance of out with the old (shitty gritty) and in with the new (while keeping a bit of the good gritty to boot).  Below are neighborhood snaps of the good, the bad, and the ugly. A message to Portland developers or people who have visions of good businesses and money to back it (in my best James Earl Jones voice, ahem) If you build the businesses, open the shops, provide the good grocery stores... people will support you. My message to the local shops that are already hustling and bustling (Stumptown, New Seasons...etc.) if you open a business on Foster, other businesses will follow you.

Vacant dry cleaner building.

Local hot spot.

Carts on Foster.

Vacant Autoshop, mural states "our cars sell themselves."

1 of 3...go away.

Wolf and Rabbit gallery to open in the neighborhood at Foster Row. 

Darling Letter Press with a new store front...neighborhood gem! 

Foster Burger (adjacent to 1 of the 3 adult shops).

This building has been for lease for over a year (come on something good, make us proud).