Monday, October 31, 2016

SE 91st & Foster Plaza

The next sorta-park we're visiting is a relatively new one. For years now, the Portland Development Commission has been trying -- fruitlessly so far -- to gentrify the Lents neighborhood, particularly the stretch of Foster Rd. between about SE 88th & I-205. So far they've poured close to $100M into the area, and the fickle condo tower gods have yet to appear & bestow their various blessings, so the struggle continues. A recent PDC effort here was called "Lents Streetscape Improvements", which involved redesigning a few intersections and adding a couple of large gateway monuments to let drivers know that a.) they had arrived at Lents, and b.) this fact was important. One of the intersection tweaks added a bend to SE 91st Ave. at the intersection with Foster, and the original straight bit of street was transmogrified into the semi-shiny new plaza you see here. (Note: in 2016, Google Maps still can't decide whether it wants to show you the old street grid or the new one. If you don't see a bend in the embedded map above, try clicking "View Larger Map", which will take you to a map that's both larger and newer. Don't ask me why; I don't work for Google and am at least as confused as you are.)

The little plaza doesn't seem to have an official name, and a 2014 Willamette Week article dubbed it "Cockroach Plaza", due to the pest control business housed in the building next door. That's a bit unfair, considering the building is a vintage Carnegie library that just happens to house a pest control business right now. I will grant that the plaza won't win any urban design awards. It looks like it could use a weird sculpture in the middle, or a couple of food carts. Possibly they're waiting a few years to do that, so locals can get used to the new bend in the road & won't plow right through the local fruit cart or something.

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