Montavilla and East Tabor businesspeople gather for fun — and to share concerns

The once-forlorn stretch of SE Stark St, from I-205 west to Mt. Tabor, is coming back to life. Why? See what Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams learned, when he visited the area

Meeting at Why Not Wine, METBA businesspeople Tarah Schuler, Kay Kirkham, Greg Bunker, Kristin Schuchman, Jacose Bell, and Ariana Dixon enjoy the association’s first social event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It looks like downtown Montavilla is, once again, beginning to thrive — thanks to business people have chosen to open stores, restaurants‚Ķand yes, the Academy Theater.

Banding together under the banner “Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association” (METBA), these outer East Portland entrepreneurs say that supporting one another increases the likelihood this area will again flourish.

Mix and mingle
For their first networking and social event, they met on February 28 in Montavilla at Why Not Wine, a wine bar serving light appetizers.

“I, like many of our members, want to get our association to percolate. So, we started this network event to help businesses support and learn about each other,” says Kristin Schuchman, a member METBA.

“I’ve lived here for eight years, and work as a marketing consultant as owner of Mixed Media LLC,” continues Schuchman. “I’ve hoped for more retail and restaurant establishments to come in, to give it the ‘village’ feel you get on Hawthorne or Belmont. It looks like my wish is coming true.”

About 25 guests filled the wine bar at this inaugural networking event.

Planning Montavilla Farmer’s Market
At the event, we met Kay Kirkham, one of the forces behind a proposed Farmer’s Market.

“The market will be on SE Stark St.,” she said, “at SE 76th Ave., in the vacant lot next to the Veterinary Center. They’ll let us use if for a minimum cost. We plan to be open on Sundays starting late in May.”

Interested in being a vendor? Contact her at:

Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams meets with METBA members to hear their concerns.

Commissioner Sam comes to town

The first business group visited by Sam Adams after he became a Portland City Commissioner was the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association. Adams vowed to return.

After a mid-afternoon get-together at several locations, Adams told us what he’s seen and learned at Flying Pie Pizzeria on SE Stark St.

“Businesspeople are feeling good; the district is definitely coming back. They’re getting more customers. New investment is coming into the district.”

Sam Adams votes Montavilla and East Tabor as the place you are most likely to find great pies – both kinds.

Adams: ‘Best pies in town’
“It is good to see the vitality,” Adams continued. “Since I last visited, it’s great to see the area really flourishing. And, in all of Portland, some of the best pizza ‚Äì at Flying Pie and Stark Street Pizza ‚Äì and fruit pies, especially the peach ‚Äì  homemade by Bipartisan Caf?© ‚Äì are here in Montavilla!”

Commissioner Adams tells us that business folks would like to see money dedicated to help with pedestrian safety; for things like bubble curbs and curb extensions. “I wish I had more money in the transportation budget for infrastructure improvements.”

Adams added that he felt a sense of “continuing frustration that ODOT raised the speed from 30 to 35 mph, right here in the middle of the district. While that is their prerogative, it makes no sense to me.”

Other concerns, says the commissioner, are regarding the up-tick of prostitution and drug dealing around SE 82nd Avenue of Roses, and on Stark St. to SE 78th Ave.

Takes a break during budgets
We asked Adams why he’s taking time away from the office during the budget process in City Hall.

“A commissioner who sits in City Hall all the time,” replied Adams, “and who doesn’t make outreach efforts, can’t stay in touch. It’s easy to think the world is one way, while the reality, on the street, is quite different. And, as Transportation Commissioner, I am concerned with traffic issues. I’ll do my best to help, given the budget constraints.”

President is pleased
While driving Alema McCrea, president of METBA, the short distance back to her car she left at Stark Street Pizza, where Sam Adams’ journey began, we used the opportunity to ask how she felt about Adams’ visit.

“I thought we got a lot of good information from him about how to proceed with our traffic issues. We also learned how we can deal with ‘green’ issues, like putting bio-swales in. Sam really listens, and tries his best to take care of things.”

Additionally, McCrea told us, “both this networking event, and the commissioner’s visit gives members the opportunity to talk together and share concerns.

“The association is growing,” she said. “We’re adding new members ‚Äì come join with us.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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