Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Burnside Bridgehead project includes possible bike-through retail window

Posted by on August 11th, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Though it’s a shame that the creators of this image seem to have been unaware of the existence of Couch Street’s bike lane, they do seem to be enthusiastic about serving people who arrive by bike.
(Image: Key Development)

In the latest burst of bike-oriented development on the Burnside Bridgehead, a developer is considering turning the tables on all those drive-through windows that allow cars but not bikes.

Key Development has proposed a 20,000-square-foot, $7 million commercial building on the space immediately west of Couch Street’s southward curve towards the Burnside Bridge. Currently in design review, the project would include a bike-oriented retail plaza, possibly with a bike-through window.

It might also function as a sort of annex that’d create easy bridge-level bike access to residents of the big 21-story tower that’s now in construction right behind it.

The big 284-apartment and retail building currently being built between NE 2nd and 3rd Avenues is called “Yard”; the smaller building with the proposed bike plaza and drive-through is tentatively called “Sideyard.”

In an interview Tuesday, developer Jeff Pickhardt said he envisions a curb cut facing the curve of Couch Street that would let people on bikes roll into the plaza and beneath an archway built into the left side of the Sideyard building. There, he said, people could access a retail window.

“Latte guy makes you a latte, you never leave your bike, you roll through onto Burnside, off to work you go,” Pickhardt said.

He’s also looking into a retail tenant that would function as a simple bike shop that would sell “goods and services” to people on bicycles. And, in a proposal not yet approved by the city’s design commission, Key has suggested a skyway between the two buildings that would let residents, shoppers and employees at Yard park their bikes at Sideyard and continue directly into the large building.

Pickhardt said Key’s concepts for the Sideyard building developed out of questions from the design commission about how to connect Yard with bike and foot traffic. Those connections will be essential to the building’s success, because Yard includes only 200 on-site car parking spaces, all tucked below the main street level of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Moreover, freight customers in the surrounding Central Eastside Industrial District have been skeptical about new additions of bike infrastructure to the streets in the immediate area.

In addition to its 287 apartments (57 of which will be set aside for people making 60 percent or less of the region’s median family income) Yard will itself include another 20,000 square feet of commercial space.


Pickhardt said he hopes the Sideyard project, with its sloping green roofs, will function as a milestone on people’s journeys through the center of the city — a sort of milepost zero for the Portland address system.

“Hopefully this is a place where we can provide a little bit of a break in the commute for folks, hopefully welcome them into our project,” Pickhardt said.

Yard as seen from the northeast, approaching from the Couch bike lane or through the front window of a No. 19 bus.

Pickhardt said financing for Sideyard is lined up and said the building would, if approved, aim to start construction by late 2015. Yard’s grand opening is scheduled for June 2016.

One thing that’s not atop Pickhardt’s agenda, or seemingly that of any of the developers now investing heavily in a very low-car future for the Burnside Bridghead: improvements to the bike lanes on the Burnside Bridge. The bridge carries an estimated 2,000 bike trips per day in both directions. That’s far lower than the Hawthorne, Steel or Broadway bridges, thanks in part to the lack of physical separation between bikes and cars and in part to the fact that the bridge’s westbound bike lane disappears into a bus stop, parking lane and right-turn lane as it descends into downtown.

Pickhardt said he thinks “the discussion’s just starting” between developers and local governments about how to improve the bridge in the future.

Like many large new residential buildings in central Portland, Yard will offer residents a bike repair stand and bike wash, plus even more bike parking spaces — 492 — than the city requires. Down the street from Yard at 419 E. Burnside will be another building that plans a “bicycle lounge” to help attract residents in its target 25-34 demographic. And across Burnside, another yet-to-be-named building will offer 10 stories of offices, retailers and apartments with just 42 auto parking spaces.

Pickhardt said the cluster of transit-oriented, bike-oriented buildings will combine to create an intensely bike-friendly feeling.

“The group of folks that are developing properties there I think on some level are like-minded in their interest of providing bike-friendly projects,” Pickhardt said. “Those things working together, we have a pretty great outcome.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a regular column. You can sign up to get an email of Real Estate Beat posts (and nothing else) here, or read past installments here.

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  • ethan August 11, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Where’s the story about the Lloyd district?

    And I don’t think this will be very practical. I was told there was going to be some sort of a slip lane from NE Couch / 3rd to 2nd, which would put drivers directly through the path of the bike lane.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 11, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      It’s comin’! Hopefully this week but maybe after J is back next week. Keeping up with the news makes it hard to find time to finish big projects on 5 hours a day. But thanks for asking.

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      • Scott H August 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

        5 hours a day? We need more bike news! What can we do to squeeze more in? If we leave more comments or click around the articles more will that help bring more ad revenue in?

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    • maccoinnich August 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      There’s going to be a one way westbound street connecting NE Couch to NE 3rd. Here’s a drawing of it

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      • John Lascurettes August 11, 2015 at 5:46 pm

        Yikes! So, people in cars might potentially now be turning right across the bike lane on a sharp left curve where they’re likely to not see the fast approaching people on bikes in their side view mirrors. How is this even remotely a good idea?

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) August 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

          Yes, I’d heard about this but seeing that map convinces me that it definitely merits reporting. Thanks, Iain.

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        • maccoinnich August 11, 2015 at 11:20 pm

          I too have my concerns about the planned intersection, but there is also the potential for it to improve bike access. In the SE Quadrant Plan, recently adopted by the City Council, it was recommended that a signal be added at SE Ankeny & Grand. This would allow the Ankeny greenway to extend to SE 3rd. If a contraflow bike lane was added to the new Couch Court it would allow cyclists heading towards downtown to avoid cutting over to NE Couch at 6th. I don’t know however if anyone is planning for this.

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          • MaxD August 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm

            Maybe all these new residents and office workers will create some momentum for an elevated bike/ped connection north of here that would cross over the railroad tracks, but go under the I-84 ramps. This would basically connect NE 3rd to NE Lloyd just south of the convention center!

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      • ethan August 12, 2015 at 10:26 pm

        I don’t know how stuff like this gets through. It’s obvious just by looking at it that it’s a bad idea.

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  • maccoinnich August 11, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Interesting that they’re thinking about a skybridge over NE 3rd Ave, because city policy is to only approve those in exceptionally rare circumstances. The Design Commission just voted to approve one for OHSU at South Waterfront, but only because it was need to connect surgical suites in an existing building to a proposed new buildings. It’s hard to imagine such a compelling argument in this case.

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    • ethan August 11, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      The Design commission approved 1 (of the two skybridges that OHSU wanted).

      The one they approved was necessary due to the design of the original building. The second one was a skybridge to a parking garage… And I’m glad they didn’t approve it, but it’s a shame that they let the parking garage go through the way it is.

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  • lahar August 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    There is clearly not enough stuff going in on this hairpin turn. I like my hairpin turns with more distractions. I’m unenthusiastic.

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    • Chris I August 12, 2015 at 6:08 am

      I’m sure it will be just a matter of time before a wayward driver pilots their vehicle through that fancy glass facade. Hopefully no one will be sitting out front or waiting for the bike-through latte at the time…

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    • Dan M. August 12, 2015 at 9:44 am

      If you find negotiating that turn to be a difficult exercise on your bike, maybe urban biking isn’t for you.

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      • John Lascurettes August 12, 2015 at 11:35 am

        It’s not difficult to negotiate on my bike. In fact, I love it. I can take it fast and it’s one of the few places in the city where I can take a nice leaning turn at high speed. Now, I have to worry about if a car is suddenly going to pinch me at this location – and cars are blind in their right side-view mirror because of the angle to approaching bikes that would be traveling fast through the curve. I don’t know about you but I observe less than 50% of cars turning on their signal before they start their turning maneuver (as in 100ft ahead of time as law states – I’d be happy with just 3 seconds of warning time). This is a right hook waiting to happen.

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        • Dan M. August 12, 2015 at 1:27 pm

          Yeah I love taking that turn too. It’s really fun, especially when you get the green at speed heading into it so you’re at full tilt.

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    • paikiala August 12, 2015 at 9:56 am

      A hairpin turn returns users in the opposite direction from which they entered. This is a left turn.

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      • John Lascurettes August 12, 2015 at 6:39 pm

        Well, if we’re going to get all pedantic, it’s an S-curve because it immediately turns right again – it’s not quite tight enough to be called a chicane. So there.

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      • was carless August 13, 2015 at 9:36 pm

        I think they meant a chicane – it bends back to the right after the initial curve.

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  • Kevin Wagoner August 11, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Sideyard! Sound incredibly awesome. I like the bike by window of Caffe Vita on SW 3rd. I sometimes bike up to it in the morning, grab a coffee and they bike over to the top of the Steel Bridge and watch the city come to life. It is an awesome experience. Sideyard would rock!

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson August 11, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    A Burnside Bridge fix is easy. Go with two traffic lanes each way and use the extra lane for wider and separated bike/ped facilities.
    re “freight,” note that for every two people who travel to or through CEID and who switch from a private car to bike or transit or walking, room is made for a large truck. SOVs obstruct freight, not bikes and buses.

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    • Chris I August 12, 2015 at 6:09 am

      It really is that easy. Traffic levels do not warrant three eastbound lanes on the bridge.

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  • Adam Herstein August 11, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Brilliant. I love it. Now let’s get protected bike lanes on the Burnside Bridge.

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  • WD August 12, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Can I somehow buy into a share of PDW’s profits from Bar-ista sales? If bike-through windows catch on this city is going to need a lot of cup holders.

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  • Spiffy August 12, 2015 at 7:38 am

    interesting sign names on their mock-up… shake shack, bikepimp, waxoff, playwit, saltyfarmer…

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  • davemess August 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I’m trying to think of all the drive-thru windows that don’t allow bikes? The only two I can think of that I would ever use are Burgerville and my bank, both of which welcome bikes.
    Seems like drive-thru’s aren’t as prevalent in Portland as other cities.
    Can people list others that I’m missing?

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    • Mao August 12, 2015 at 11:22 am

      It depends a lot on who’s working at the time. I’ve had fastfood places tell me to walk inside while other times they don’t care. There must be more than just Burgerville for bike-friendly drivethrus

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    • Terry D-M August 13, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Wallgreens recently approved bikes in their Portland five through.

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    • Steve B August 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm

      I’ve been turned down at the drive thru on Wendy’s on Sandy. I’ve heard similar about Jack in the Box.

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    • was carless August 13, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      I’ve always biked through Burger King. When I feel like it…

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  • Champs August 12, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Some express doubts that people will be able to drive and bike through there safely, and to some degree I share them. Freewheel Bike on the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis is a great format, but also a magnet for oblivious people: customers bolt out, riders stop suddenly, etc. Extra caution required.

    Even more doubtful is that the barista will be able to afford to rent much more than a hall closet in that building. I’ve done my apartment hunting this summer and auto parking isn’t the only outrageous socialized cost of housing. Community bike rooms: if your bike isn’t behind an inside door you personally lock, it may as well be outside on a rack. Wash stations: you subsidize bathtime for the annoying neighbor dog that barks every time someone is in the hall. All this, starting at 450sf and $1300/mo!

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  • Doug Klotz August 12, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Does anyone remember that when they built this curving street, Couch to Burnside, that there were street trees near the curb in that sidewalk around the curve? They were taken out rather quickly. (Perhaps BikePortland has a photo in it’s archive that shows them). It does seem that those should be returned, to get more shade on that street and make it more pleasant to walk along there. I don’t think they’d interfere with any traffic views.

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  • RushHourAlleycat August 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Best image caption ever!

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  • was carless August 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Also, don’t forget that there will soon be a big building on the left:

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