Wonks R Us

Where Public Policy and Small Business Meet

Turning parking lots into parks

For at least the past two years, there has been a coffee cart on the corner of SE Morrison and Grand that has been vacant.  It sometimes looked like someone was going to move in, but nothing ever actually opened.  One of our members even took to calling it the Duck Blind.  But recently all of that changed.  Recently not only did someone move in to the cart, they also created a nice little sitting spot, complete with rock garden, fountain and hanging plants, in the parking lot where they are located.

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Hanging Plants

The Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) is sparse on greenspace or even places to it outside in the (occasional) sun and eat lunch.  There is the Eastbank Esplanade which is great for walking or sitting eye to eye with a kayaker, and we can see Waterfront Park.  If one is willing to trek east a bit, there is Colonel Summers Park.  But there is no place really nearby to just take a 10 minute break outside.

So I was very pleasantly surprised when I walked by the former duck blind the other day and saw the great space they had created.  There are coffee carts all over Portland, and a very few even have chairs or a bench, but this is the first time I have seen a coffee cart create a restful space.

I can’t say whether the motivation of the coffee cart owner was to entice customers away from the numerous cafes in the ‘hood, or just to create a visual break from Grand Street traffic and a parking lot.  To be honest, I don’t really care.  I just appreciate that we now have a nice little peaceful space just a block away.

I know that their space is not public the way that the others are, but in some ways that makes it a better example for the local business community.  Portland Parks & Recreation is in the business of greenspaces.  Coffee carts are in the business of selling coffee.  But the folks who own this cart saw the business value in merging the two, and as their neighbor, I really appreciate the effort.

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