Friday, August 29, 2014

NE 28th & Weidler

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Our next adventure takes us to a triangular park-like space at NE 28th & Weidler, right next to the Hollywood Fred Meyer store. There is play equipment and swings, and a few benches, and a path meandering through it. There's no sign explaining exactly what it is, though, or who owns it. Which is a shame because there's an interesting story here.

This area isn't actually a public park, but rather is owned by Fred Meyer (or, strictly speaking, Kroger, its Cincinnati-based parent company), and it's the result of a compromise deal when the store went in back in 1990. The store (built on the site of the old Hyster forklift factory) was quite controversial at the time; neighbors claimed it would bring traffic problems and change the character of the Hollywood District, and generally felt it was just too suburban and car-oriented and simply wouldn't fit here. The little park was intended to be a buffer area between the store's parking lot and the residential neighborhood next door. More recently, the play equipment and park furniture were replaced in 2011 as part of a larger renovation of the store.

It does kind of seem like a missed marketing opportunity here. Imagine signs on the play equipment and outdoor furniture: "Kids can't get enough of this? Buy one for your backyard! On sale right next door! Free box of wine with every purchase, because assembling it is half the fun." Maybe they just don't sell the right sort of play equipment and outdoor furniture to make that feasible. Maybe it would be doable if there was a Home Depot or IKEA here instead. Or maybe the neighborhood's still too touchy about the store existing at all for this to be a good idea.

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