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Foster Road merchants focus on revitalization efforts

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - The Ben Rice Band plays on the Fun on Foster Festival Music Stage at S.E. 60th Avenue and Foster Road.Although S.E. Foster Road – the highway from S.E. 50th to Lents, and beyond – runs through one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, and has been a center of commerce for a century, empty storefronts recently have signaled a decline in prosperity there.

But, nearby businesses and residents, and governmental entities, are now doing their best to revive commerce along a 44-block segment of Foster Road – starting at its western end at S.E. Powell Boulevard at 50th Avenue, and moving southeast along Foster.

On September 29th, the Foster Area Business Association (FABA) put on its latest “Fun On Foster Festival” – an event created a few years ago to draw attention to the amenities and businesses in the area.

A focus was the vendor fair, with food and merchandise booths in Laurelwood Park, a small, triangular green spot at the intersection of S.E. 64th Avenue and Foster Road. Sixteen or more merchants along the street also hosted special events in front of their stores.

One spot that drew visitors throughout the day was the music stage set up at S.E. 60th Avenue and Foster Road, offering six hours of musical acts, culminating with a concert by “The Brothers of the Baladi”.

“Foster Corridor Investment Strategy” plans vetted

With an eye toward developing what participants say is a “coordinated, prioritized, and implementable set of actions to improve economic, environmental, and social conditions in the neighborhoods and commercial areas along Foster Road”, work on the “Foster Corridor Investment Strategy” continues.

In cooperation with the Portland Development Commission (PDC), which has dedicated $50,000 to the project – paired with a $250,000 METRO grant – it is led by the Foster-Lents Integration Partnership, the Foster Green EcoDistrict, and the Mount Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association.

“The Foster Corridor Investment Strategy is all about trying to find the best investment opportunities for this corridor, from S.E.50th Avenue eastward,” explained PDC Senior Project Manager Kevin Cronin, at an October 10th Open House held at the Lents Masonic Lodge.

“Many City Bureaus have gotten together to form this partnership,” Cronin added.

The goal of the partnership is to create a “community-based, feasible approach that is supported by Partnership and the Community”.

Their stated objectives:

· Reflect the views and values of residents and businesses within the project area;

· Coordinate existing plans and goals from various City, PDC and Community efforts;

· Fit into the local and regional context;

· Demonstrate the technical, regulatory, and financial feasibility of selected projects;

· Identify investments that encourage additional investments; and,

· Result in a coordinated sequence of projects and actions.

Hopefully by the end of 2013, we will have a new strategy in place, Cronin said. By the time we finished tonights Open House, we had a really good idea of draft project opportunities were going to move forward with. And, well test the feasibility of implementing those projects over the next five years. This is all about how we create a thriving Foster Road corridor. This is a conversation we starting tonight, and will continue for the next few months.

Four main topic areas include:

· Commercial property energy retrofit program

· Traffic safety and streetscape improvements on Foster Road (52nd - 82nd Avenues)

· Integrated capital improvement plan for infrastructure

· Small scale projects that can be implemented immediately by community groups

As the some-60 attendees prepared to break into discussion groups, Cronin added, We do not need just another plan  a plan that will sit on a shelf somewhere. This is intended to be a working strategy, to be put into action.

For more information, go online to: HYPERLINK "http://www.pdc.us/our-work/urban-renewal-areas/lents/current-projects/flip.aspx" www.pdc.us/our-work/urban-renewal-areas/lents/current-projects/flip.aspx