Neighbors comment on Lents Town Center

Find out why Prosper Portland held this open house in Lents about the ‘Phase II’ development of Lents Town Center. You can attend another “Community Conversation” about it, on February 25 …

Many people turn out for the Lents Town Center Phase II open house, held in the gym of the Wattles Boys & Girls Club..

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Since creating the “Lents Five-Year Action Plan” in 2014, Prosper Portland (then called the Portland Development Commission) has been involved in the Lents Town Center redevelopment projects – a collaboration with the Bureau, city agencies, community partners, and developers, which has initiated  four new large projects along SE Foster Road at 92nd Avenue.

With the Asian Health and Services Center, Lents Commons apartments, and Oliver Station East & West mixed use housing all completed, and with ROSE Community Development’s Woody Guthrie Place under construction in Phase 1 of the redevelopment project, the Bureau is now working on Phase 2.

Explaining the project to visitors is Prosper Portland Project Coordinator Alison Wicks.

“This is the redevelopment of the 4.4-acre property on SE 92nd Avenue between SE Harold Street and Ramona Street, behind the Wattles Boys & Girls Club,” explained Prosper Portland Project Coordinator Alison Wicks at an open house in the gym of the youth facility on the evening of February 11.

“We’re looking to see what the community wants in terms of housing, public open space, commercial space, and equitable development,” Wicks told East Portland News.

“What we have done so far – we have taken what we have heard in our public engagement process, and we’ve looked at what values we’ve heard from the Lents community,” Wicks explained. “Then, we’re starting to talk about what this [project] might look like for the development project.”

Robert Schultz, a Lents neighbor since 1992, talks with neighbors about how Lents Town Center Phase II is developing.

“Actually, I find this process to be frustrating,” remarked longtime Lents neighbor Robert Schultz.

“Prosper Portland says they’re seeking feedback on the topics of commercial development, public space, and housing – they’ve already said very clearly that the bulk of the area to be developed will be ‘market rate housing’, and will not be low income housing.

“They’ve also said there will absolutely be no mixed-use – no businesses on the ground level – but now they are asking for commercial space ideas,” Schultz said. “And, I have no idea what will go in the big open space.

“Another puzzling thing is that Prosper Portland made it clear that they are sacrificing the additional time to gather community input for their [project]; the timeline that is based on an antiquated, five years old plan – making it look as if this is being done for show!”

After enjoying food provided by nearby restaurant El Pato Feliz, many people leave comments about how Lents Town Center is to be completed.

Participants posted many ideas about housing that included:

  • Universal housing with ADA access
  • Affording housing for the younger generation with large units
  • Mental health facilities with housing
  • Housing for the homeless
  • Coordinated access supportive housing

 

And, some of the ideas for commercial development posted included:

  • Grocery store, with healthy, low-price foods or food co-op
  • Retail store with vintage furniture and goods
  • A business incubator
  • Coffee shop and deli or family restaurant
  • Individually owned food carts
  • Thrift store / used book store

 

Lents neighbor Nick Christensen completes a survey form.

Some attendees of the open house, such as Nick Christensen, said they were upbeat about the prospects of Lents Town Center Phase II.

“I’m excited to see some of the proposals here,” Christensen told East Portland News. “For example, the idea of getting a blend of market rate and affordable housing in Lents Town Center is part of the promise made by Prosper Portland. Having the market rate housing to support businesses in the community is really essential.

“And, I hope they go forward with a market rate project that includes a retail element, as well as a public plaza,” Christensen went on. “I’m hoping that, as we can close the chapter on redevelopment, we’ll see a great ‘Main Street’ reborn here on 92nd Avenue.”

Long time Lents residents and supporters David Potts and Char Pennie leave off their surveys.

To learn more about Lents Town Center Phase II, see the official Prosper Portland webpage: CLICK HERE.

February 25: Lents Town Center Phase 2 “Community Conversation

From 6:00 until 8:00 p.m., interested people are invited to the second such meeting, the topic of this one is called “Public Benefits”. Prosper Portland wants to know: • What kinds of businesses are important to you? • What kind of public space do you imagine here? • What kind of housing do you imagine here? Go, and let them know.

Please RSVP online at EventBrite: CLICK HERE. It’s at Wattle’s Boys & Girls Club, 9330 Southeast Harold Street. 97266.

Or, take a web-based survey to register your opinion; it’s open now through March 2019 (it’s hosted at OpenTownHall.com): CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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