The Past is the Future: The Continued Evolution of the Central Eastside

The mayor is his state of the city unveiled, prematurely apparently, a new moniker for the Central Eastside Industrial Are: Produce Row. The name is supposed to both harken back to the districts past as a hub for vegetable distribution and evoke the future as a place where the economy of tomorrow will sprout and grow. Unfortunately it was launched a bit prematurely and has provoked a backlash from some of the member of the Central Eastside Industrial Council. The rational behind the mayor’s decision was clear: to create a brand for a part of the city that is doing a successful job cultivating the type of small startups that the mayor’s administration is trying to cultivate. There is no doubt the area has evolved past its origins as a place for manufacturing and distribution. The neighborhood is now just as much about creative services and artesian foods.

Central Eastside Industrial District boundaries. Image from CEIC Facebook page.

The development of the neighborhood as an entrepreneurial hub for the city is taking a few more steps forward with the recent announcements of several new projects. The most high profile of this latest crop of development is Stumptown Coffee’s move to consolidate its headquarters and roaster in the Venerable Properties’ MacForce building at 100 S.E. Salmon St. and the adjacent 30,000 square-foot building on SE Main Street. This high profile coffee roaster will be joining other notable food producers including the the collection of artisinal liquor makers at Distillers’ Row, charcuterie pioneers Olympic Provisions and fellow roasters Water Avenue and Coava Coffee roasters.

American Brush Building at 116 NE 6th Avenue. Image from the DJC.

The next project of not is Urban Development Partners plans to rehab the American Brush building at 116 NE 6th Avenue for their new headquarters. If you don’t know UDP they are a small developer that has done some good infill projects around town over the last several years including Move the House Apartments and the Reliable Apartments on Division, both of which were delivered in the depths of the great recession yet seemed to do well. I believe they are also working on another Division Street project at the moment, but more about that in another post. They will be undertaking a full upgrade of the 19,000 square-foot building and using one of its four floors for their office and leasing out the other three.

Salvation Army Industrial Home Building at 200 SE Martin Luther King. Rendering from Venerable Properties.

The last project is Venerable’s plan to spend $7 million rehabilitating the Salvation Army building at 200 SE Martin Luther King.  Working with Fletcher Farr Ayotte Architects and Bremick Construction they plan to turn what is now a rather unremarkable building that does its best to ignore the street into a updated retail and office complex oriented towards creative professionals. The project will add 10,000 square feet of retail and 32,000 square feet of office to the area’s inventory providing a boost to the growing vibrancy.

6th and Couch Apartments. Image from Vallaster Corl Architects.

In addition to the projects above, a six story apartment building designed by Vallaster Corl continues to rise at N.E. 6 th and Couch and Beam should be starting on the rehab of the Convention Plaza Building any day now. Collectively these project just represent a few more step in the neighborhood’s path from downtown’s industrial backyard to its entrepreneurial doorstep. As mentioned in previous post, the gradual recovery of the economy has driven up demand for class B creative space by creative firms, tech startups and light industry such as micro food processors is high and growing. The Central Eastside is a perfect place to fill that need. Business like those can fit into the neighborhood’s existing mix, adding vibrancy while not threatening the presence of industry. The area’s history and industrial character provide an feel that no other part of town has and that many people, myself included, find very appealing. The coming of both streetcar and light rail are going to make the Central Eastside that much more of a hot spot in town, linking it even more tightly with downtown and the residential neighborhood to the east. We can look forward to hearing a lot more from this part of town in the future, especially if anything ever starts to happen at the Burnside Bridgehead site.

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