Building up the Baysides

Looking forward on the peninsula's last frontiers
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  August 16, 2010

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LOWER EAST BAYSIDE Zoning, which residents and city leaders hope to update, will dictate what develops here.

Perhaps you've been bowling and boozing at Bayside Bowl on Alder Street. Or maybe you've been biking down Fox Street and over to Whole Foods, throwing a glimpse over to Anderson as you pass — you just might see someone you know. Have you checked out the new Mayo Street Arts Center, wandered down a street that dead-ended prematurely, wondered who lives in the Kennedy Park housing project, or strolled along the footprint of the Bayside Trail, which will ultimately connect the Eastern Promenade with Deering Oaks Park (fingers crossed)? Surely you've read about attempts to rip up and redo Franklin Arterial, which seems to have been laid down by people who forgot that pedestrians exist.

In short, welcome to Portland's new hot spots, the last remaining chunks of the peninsula left to be shaped, where development can still be guided, where personalities of place can still be established. What will happen as Bayside and East Bayside continue to find their footing in Portland's urban landscape?


'SCARS AND DAMAGES'

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There's history here, and much of it can be blamed on a road. West Bayside (more commonly referred to as plain ol' Bayside) and East Bayside used to be one neighborhood, until the late-1960s razing of about 300 housing units along Franklin Street and the construction of Franklin Arterial, which largely cut off pedestrian access between them. Bounded by Cumberland Avenue, Marginal Way, Elm and Preble streets, and Franklin, Bayside centers on the area that stretches from downtown to Back Cove. And on the other side of Franklin, East Bayside stretches to Washington Avenue and uphill as far as Congress.

In the Muskie School of Public Service's 2009 East Bayside Planning Study, Franklin is labeled as "the most identifiable culprit for the sense of isolation from the rest of the city that one experiences here." There is a lack of street lighting and crime rates are higher here than in the rest of the city. The same Muskie School study found that residents consider public transportation options "unpleasant to use," that Fox Street "is currently dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike," and that "Lower East Bayside is unwelcoming to potential [Bayside] trail users." The effects on the other side of the divide were no less severe; city planner Rick Knowland acknowledges that until the mid-1990s, Bayside existed as something of a "forgotten cousin" among Portland's neighborhoods. A 2007 New York Times article described Bayside as "a place where city workers parked during the day and society's forgotten dwelled in the evening's shadows."

"Franklin did some damage on many levels to how that area functions politically and culturally," says Alan Holt, an adjunct professor at the Muskie School and the owner of Alan Holt Community Design Studio, a planning and architecture firm. "The good news is that there's a lot of good thinking and planning and implementation in the pipeline to actually repair some of those scars and damages."

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  Topics: News Features , Franklin Arterial, Deering Oaks Park, Bayside Bowl,  More more >
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