Portlanders prepare for Park(ing) Day party

Portlanders prepare for Park(ing) Day party

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(Park)ing Day in San Francisco, 2010.
(Photo: Josh Jackson)

The international festival that envisions ways to repurpose the 30% of central business district land area (PDF) that U.S. cities currently devote to auto parking keeps getting more interesting.

This Friday, Sept. 20, Park(ing) Day celebrations are going down at a few spots around Portland. But the most interesting might be the plan for SW Stark Street between 10th and 11th, close to Powell’s City of Books and just outside the Ace Hotel.

“We’re taking all of the parking spaces on SW Stark between 10th and 11th and turning them into extra bike parking, ping-pong tables, public parklets and outdoor seating for the nearby restaurants,” writes Katrina Johnston, the local researcher and designer behind THINK.urban. “Ace Hotel will also be doing two spaces in front of their place and there will be an event going on at The Cleaners that will serve as an unofficial after party.”

Sounds like a terrific event, especially since it’s happening in the heart of a downtown that’s in the midst of a big, multi-year conversation: whether to preserve every possible on-street auto parking space or to experiment with using all that real estate (it’s worth $20 per square foot per year) in some other way.

Last year, the Downtown Retail Council of the Portland Business Alliance, our local chamber of commerce, decided to oppose all expansion of a city program that let retailers opt to convert public auto parking to outdoor commercial patios.

That seemed like an odd decision, and it’s worth wondering whether the Downtown Retail Council really spoke for a majority of downtown retailers. In any case, stop by this downtown block party on Friday if you’re interested in thinking for yourself about interesting new ways to put our precious downtown land to use.

Closer to the east side? Check out Alta Planning and Design’s setup at 711 SE Grand. Look for the luau theme and (we’re told) the hot tub.

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