Up and Coming


We live in the Woodlawn neighborhood. The neighborhood’s borders are NE Ainsworth on the south, NE Columbia on the north, Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd on the west and NE 22nd on the east. If you’ve ever driven up MLK and come to the intersection with a Safeway, Walgreens, Starbucks and Popeye’s on each corner, that’s where we start. When we bought a house here in the summer of 2006, we were told it was an “up and coming” neighborhood. I think that must be real estate speak for “rapidly gentrifying”. Look at us, Ma – we’re gentrifyin’!

We live a block south of Dekum and 8th, right off the Dekum Triangle. Lest you think airplanes and yachts have mysteriously disappeared in this area, let me assure you the nomenclature is due to the unusual arrangement of the streets. A legacy of the days when there was a railroad depot in the ‘hood, the typical grid of Portland streets suddenly twists on it’s axis 45 degrees here, leaving a large number of oddly shaped lots and intersections. The Dekum Triangle is basically the intersection of Dekum, Durham and Oneonta, just west of beautiful Woodlawn Park.

Aside from the Safeway/Starbucks intersection, there’s not much happening in Woodlawn, aside from the Village Ballroom building (which also houses a second-hand clothes store and punk rock record store). Most residents were cheered when the long-anticipated revival of the Dekum Triangle was set in motion this fall by the opening of Good Neighbor Pizza.

Though unimaginatively named, Good Neighbor Pizza is an oasis in this food-barren neighborhood. The pizza is quite good and organic, though a little pricey. The service has been spotty – but I’m cutting them a break because they are still so new. They recently received their liquor license and are featuring live music, so maybe my next visit will be more pleasurable. And I can’t really complain when I can pick up a delicious slice to-go on my way home from the bus stop.

At a recent neighborhood meeting, city planners ran down the list of new businesses and residential housing. As you can see in my homemade image above (click it to enlarge), this includes a new yoga/pilates studio, coffee shop plus an Italian restaurant and naturopathic clinic to be housed in the historic Dekum Firehouse. There are also two sets of condos slated to be built in the Triangle, both with ground floor retail. I have mixed feelings about this, as one of the 2-3 stories buildings will be going up right behind our house, so I’m living through a classic NIMBY moment.

Opinions at the neighborhood meeting seemed to be fairly positive, with many requests to keep the neighborhood’s diversity alive. Unlike the recent Cesar Chavez/Interstate naming fiasco, the city seems to be handling this situation well, taking a genuine interest in the resident’s concerns. In fact, the original design for one of the condos was sent back to the drawing board for not blending in well enough (more bricks and aluminum siding, please!).

The nice thing is that Dekum is only zoned for commercial up to Woodlawn Park, so the development will be contained. I’m hoping this will be one of those cool little pocket neighborhood destinations, like SE Clinton/26th and NE Killingsworth and 30th.

Next time you’re cruising around Northeast Portland, take a swing down Dekum, so in the future you can remember what it looked like back then.

UPDATE: While perusing Google for links for this post, I found an Oregonian article from Thursday covering the same topic. Yeesh. Click here to read a professional version of this story.

2 Comments so far

  1. Matt (unregistered) on December 8th, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

    Hey, I like your breakdown better than the one in the Oregonian. And we live sorta nearby and have been looking forward to your neighborhood’s positive community growth… Looks great and keep metblogs posted!

  2. thanks (unregistered) on December 9th, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

    Thanks for the info, completely forgot about that pizza place tonight…should have gone there…

    anyway, live close by…looking forward to the continued investment in the neighborhood…too long no one invested anything in the neighborhood…hope the times continue to improve

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