What’s all that empty pavement doing outside one of the coolest intersections in Portland?
A group of locals are celebrating the summer by trying something new for two days at 26th and Clinton.
Better Block PDX, the team of volunteers who created a beautiful PARK(ing) Day lounge on Southwest Stark Street last fall have again lined up business support and gotten city permission to turn underused street space into a public plaza outside the Clinton Street Theater all day Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15.
Here’s what the temporary plazas will look like:
A row of parked cars outside Sub Rosa will move south into what’s currently a dedicated turn lane on Clinton, creating room for umbrellas, chairs, and tables.
Better Block PDX spokesman Ben Chaney said Wednesday that the project has cost the organizers several hundred dollars, including $50 for a city permit, $200 for traffic control devices and $300 for structural materials.
He said the group’s goal is to experiment with what the plaza might look like and build support for a permanent change to the street.
“We’re encouraging anyone who stops by to kind of give us a sketch and tell us what they might think,” Chaney said.
He said businesses on the street hadn’t offered any objections to the two-day demonstration, so long as it didn’t remove any auto parking, and that owners of the Clinton Street Theater had been particularly supportive, inspiring the “Popcorn Plaza” name.
The “plazas” will be set up at 9 am each morning and close at 9 pm each night.
“We have a great opportunity here to take what’s already a great intersection and take it to the next level,” Boris Kaganovich, a Better Block PDX organizer, wrote in a news release. “We’re hoping to inspire permanent change through inexpensive temporary infrastructure, change that will allow folks to linger, converse, stroll and shop.”
It’ll be exciting to see how people use the new space this weekend. But even if you can’t stop by, this looks like just the beginning for Better Block PDX. Chaney said the group is planning to “go even bigger” for PARK(ing) Day this September.
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.