September 17, 2008
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Portland is a city with some great main streets. SE Hawthorne is a perrenial favorite. SE Belmont, SE Division SE Clinton and SE 21st are continuing to develop as main streets. And the award for amazing turn-around goes to NE Alberta and N Mississippi which have been completely transformed from when I first moved here in 1988. While I know I have left off a whole bunch of main streets (NE Killingsworth and N Lombard, to name a few), there are also entire sections of our beautiful city where there is a dearth of places for folks in the ‘hood to hang out (Yes Virginia, there are place in Portland without coffee shops).
The City of Portland’s Planning Bureau has been paying attention and has some suggestions to make and wants to know what we think. On September 23rd from 8am to 11am, there will be an event to educate us about the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program. Portland used to have a Main Street program, but funding ran out and now the question is whether we want to bring it back or not. The focus of the Main Street program is to assist communities, at a grassroots level, to revitalize or create viable commercial districts. The program is designed to provide assistance and technical support for neighborhoods growing commercial districts from the ground up, those that just need some assistance and those that are toodling right along.
Even if your business does not have a storefront, think about how valuable it is to be able to walk to a cafe, go for a walk and window shop or even (gasp!) be able to buy your groceries without leaving your neighborhood. The most frequent argument I hear against revitalization are concerns about gentrification. Gentrification is a real and valid concern. No one wants to get priced out of a neighborhood they love. But, the Planning Bureau can’t take your concerns into consideration unless you show up and share them.
So, I hope to see you on September 23rd, from 8am-11am at the Kaiser Permanent Town Hall at 3704 N. Interstate Avenue. There is parking in the Kaiser garage or you can take the Yellow MAX line and get off at Overlook Park Station.