Friday, November 25, 2016

Lents Grown Story Yard

A couple of recent posts have looked at elements of the city's ongoing "redevelopment" (i.e. gentrification) effort in Portland's Lents neighborhood, centered on SE Foster just west of I-205. So far they haven't had a lot of success attracting actual new construction to the area, but they've spent a fair bit of PDC development money creating plazas and monuments and whatnot, in the hope that a new Pearl District might someday arise way out here. You might have inferred from my tone that I'm not entirely convinced this is either likely or desirable. But in all the time I've had this humble blog, the city has never once asked my opinion (or the opinion of any other random pseudonymous internet person, for that matter) before building something, and I doubt they're going to start now.

Anyway, after the initial phase of the project, the city ended up owning various bits and pieces of vacant land around central Lents, to be sold off to developers at whatever point developers take an interest in the area. Leaving them as empty lots for now wouldn't really create a sense of impending prosperity, so it was time to get creative. In August 2014, this parcel at SE 88th & Foster became Lents Grown Story Yard, a temporary art installation featuring odd wire-and-rocks outdoor furniture and large photos of local business owners. The PDC press release for the grand opening explains this is a temporary use of the land, paid for with rather small PDC and Arts Tax grants. This is basically the same model they used successfully with the former Block 47 mini-park at NE Holladay & MLK, across from the Convention Center. I've forgotten exactly what replaced the old mini-park, but the whole area north of the Convention Center has sprouted swanky new apartment buildings in the last couple of years, so it's probably part of one of those now.

Sorry about the picture quality, by the way. Everything I know about this place came from googling it after the fact; I didn't know it was there before going, and didn't realize what it was when I was visiting. While tracking down the weird "Retail Birthplace of U-Haul" marker across the street, I saw what looked like weird boxes of rocks across the street and took a couple of photos out of curiosity. If I'd known it was Art, I would have crossed the street for a better look.

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