Foster Road merchants spur revitalization efforts

At their 44 block-long ‘Fun on Foster’ party, and in their working up an area ‘Investment Strategy’ – here’s what the Foster Road merchants have been doing …

Fun on Foster Festival” vendors attract many visitors to Laurelwood Park.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although SE Foster Road – the highway from Portland to Lents – 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.

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

12-year-old crocheting whiz D’Angelo Wilson and his mom Patrice Richards shows off his skill at the Fun on Foster Festival at Laurelwood Park.

On September 29, the Foster Area Business Association (FABA) put on another “Fun of 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 at Laurelwood Park, a small, triangular green spot at the intersection of SE 64th Ave. and Foster Road. Sixteen or more merchants along the street also hosted special events in front of their stores.

Ben Rice Band plays on the Fun on Foster Festival Music Stage at SE 60th Avenue and Foster Road.

This cruise-in “bookmarks” the Fun on Foster Festival in outer East Portland at the east end at New Copper Penny.

One spot that drew visitors throughout the day was the music stage set up at SE 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

John Green and Nicole Green look over some of the project ideas presented in the Foster Corridor Investment Strategy open house.

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 Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association.

Foster Corridor Investment Strategy leader Tony DeFalco, of Tony DeFalco & Associates, greets participants.

“The Foster Corridor Investment Strategy is all about trying to find the best investment opportunities for this corridor, from SE 50th Avenue, and eastward,” explained PDC Senior Project Manager Kevin Cronin at the October 10 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;
  • Coordinates 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 tonight’s Open House, we’ll have a really good draft project opportunities we’re going to move forward with.  And, will test the feasibility of implementation of those projects over the next five years.”

When the meeting started, Cronin said, “This is all about how we create a thriving Foster Road corridor. This is a conversation we’re starting tonight, and will continue on, 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 avenue)
  • Integrated capital improvement plan for infrastructure
  • Small scale projects that can be implemented immediately by community groups


PDC Senior Project Manager Kevin Cronin reviews the objectives of the Foster Corridor Investment Strategy program.

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, see their website: CLICK HERE to view it.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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