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Learn about what is currently happening with the Central City 2035 project. Read meeting announcements and summaries, as well as other recent happenings.

Industrial Services Business Profile: Winks Hardware

Down-home hardware store meets the needs of a variety of construction trades as well as do-it-yourselfers.

Entering Winks is like stepping back in time. The modest-sized hardware store is full of the usual hammers, hoses and heating coils. But wander back into the farther reaches of the store, and you’ll find shovels and scythes of every shape and size. In the age of high tech, Winks’ down-home atmosphere and friendly staff make customers feel well taken care of.

A family-owned business, Winks has been in the Central Eastside district since 2001. Following their customer base (which migrated from the Pearl District in the late 1990s and early 2000s as Northwest Portland became more residential), Winks relocated to better serve their customers and the other industrial users in the district.

In addition to offering invaluable service and products to businesses within the district, Winks’ Central Eastside location allows contractors and other firms located throughout the city easy access to the store.

Close to the I-5 interchanges, I-84 and McLoughlin Blvd, Winks is a destination as well as a stop en route to work sites for customers from throughout the region.

But Winks owners are concerned about the trend of larger distributors and manufacturers — customers critical to their business — moving out of the district.

To ensure their long-term success, they want to see the industrial nature of the district preserved and suggest investments in infrastructure that will support existing businesses so they can stay in the district. They say the area is the last place for companies like theirs to do business in the city and if industrial users are priced out, they’ll have no choice but to move to a new location outside of the city.

This is the sixth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the businesses of the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.

Manufacturing Business Profile: Pitman Building Kitchens and Pitman Restaurant Equipment

Veteran kitchen supplier evolves to cater to Portland’s growing commercial food industry.

Pitman Restaurant Equipment has been a fixture in the Central Eastside for decades. Owners Dan and Jason Pitman have been “doing kitchens” for 28 years and boast several locations in Southeast Portland. The latest addition to their suite of food-related businesses is the Pitman Building, a new type of industrial building at SE 3rd and Clay, with six commercial kitchens and nine small office spaces above. Because of the industrial zoning, the office spaces must be primarily used by the kitchen tenants or other industrial businesses.

Open since early 2013, the Pitman Building’s kitchen spaces are fully occupied by commercial food production companies with 3 to 10 employees each, including Aybla Mediterranean Grill and Artemis Foods. Based on this success, Dan Pitman has embarked on another project: rehabbing an old warehouse building on SE Water Avenue to accommodate three more commercial kitchens and office space on the second floor.

Pitman says the businesses that rent his kitchens “. . . tend to be start-ups and/or caterers, food carts and wholesale food producers that sell to Whole Foods and New Seasons — places that like to buy local.”

All of these businesses plan to grow, Pitman notes, and to that end he provides some marketing support. Ratagast cat food (fresh frozen cat food), for example, was a tenant and is now a national brand.

He originally located his restaurant supply business in the district because of the central location, and Dick’s Restaurant Supply (now Rose’s) offered “some friendly competition.” They often refer customers to one another. “The area works,” states Pitman “because a lot of the businesses here serve Downtown, and access to the freeway isn’t too bad.”

But freight and parking are issues. Getting the big trucks in and out of the area can be challenging, and Pitman speculates that it will probably get worse. Tenants and employees buy monthly parking permits to free up their parking lot for deliveries and customers, but on-street parking is becoming scarce.

“Ultimately, though, I think the change in the district is positive,” he says. “Change is good.”

This is the fifth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the businesses of the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.

Transportation systems, open space, the Willamette River and land use are focus of two-day planning charrette in June

Join the SE Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee to guide the future of Portland’s Central Eastside

Example of a Charrette map
Drawing on maps is just one way community members can provide specific feedback for the area. This example is from the Summer 2013 Inner Southeast Station Area Charrette.

On Tuesday and Wednesday (June 3 – 4) the City of Portland is hosting a two-day planning charrette for the SE Quadrant Plan. This event will gather public input to shape the future of this unique part of the Central City.

But what’s a charrette? A Charrette is an intense period of design or planning activity. Often used to bring together multiple stakeholders during one timeframe, a successful charrette will generate many ideas and promote joint ownership of solutions.

Interested community members are invited to join the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) during this intensive planning exercise. You can participate in discussions and mapping exercises about areas and topics throughout the district.

Day 1 (June 3) will focus on creating detailed concepts for the entire district, with individual breakout sessions for the following areas:

  • Breakout A: Southern Triangle
  • Breakout B: Mixed Use Corridors, including the East Portland Grand Avenue Historic District
  • Breakout C: Industrial Heartland
  • Breakout D: Riverfront & Public Open Space

Day 2 (June 4) will focus on strategies for implementing these concepts. Breakout E in the morning will cover the transportation network and public infrastructure to support the district concepts. Rough districtwide alternatives will be developed during Breakout F in the afternoon. A detailed agenda has been posted on the SAC Documents page.

The entire two-day charrette will be summarized at the SAC meeting Thursday night (June 5). Committee members will then have a chance to discuss the results as a group and shape the development of land use alternatives. 

Upcoming Meetings

Southeast Quadrant Charrette
Day 1 – Tuesday, June 3, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Day 2 – Wednesday, June 4, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, Room 7A
1900 SW 4th Ave (7th floor)
Topics: Land use, river, open space and transportation systems

SAC Meeting #7
Thursday, June 5, 2014, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Cascade Energy 3rd floor meeting room
Eastside Exchange, 123 NE 3rd Ave
Topics: Charrette results, discussion and input to shape land use alternatives 

Southeast Quadrant Open House
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Location to be determined
Topics: Presentation of draft districtwide alternatives 

SAC Meeting #8
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 6 – 8:30 p.m.
Location to be determined
Topics: Finalize alternatives, discuss policy concepts

All SAC meetings are open to the public and will include public comment periods. Meeting materials are posted approximately one week before meetings in the SAC Documents.

Warehousing and Distribution Business Profile: Pacific Coast Fruit

A family-run business carries traditional Produce Row activities into the 21st century

Nestled underneath the Burnside Bridgehead and next to a skate park, Pacific Coast Fruit moves 4 million pounds of produce and 100,000 packages a week into and out of the Central Eastside. The company’s 60+ trucks load and unload product 24 hours a day, serving places as far away as Victoria and Vancouver, B.C., and as close as local Fred Meyer stores.

A family-run business since 1977, Pacific Coast Fruit operations include wholesale, grower/shipper and manufacturing functions. Ninety-five percent of their business is in fresh produce, which they get mostly by truck, with some by rail and air.

Pacific Coast Fruit considered moving to a suburban location and even purchased land, but they aren’t going anywhere. They love being in the Central Eastside. Close to the freeway and the airport, the location works for them. They also find the food industry cluster a benefit; they are now doing business with the New Seasons Commissary that opened down the street.But freight movement can be difficult because of traffic in the area — especially getting trucks to I-5 southbound. Maneuvering trucks through the small street grid is difficult so they hire good drivers and hold regular safety meetings. Says company owner Dave Nemarnik, “This location works for us because we’re off the main travel corridor, but I can see why it may not work for others.”

With 310 employees at this location, the company is among the largest employers in the Central Eastside. Jobs include entry-level food production, warehouse workers, drivers, and sales and support staff. The company provides benefits to all employees.

Employees at Pacific Coast Fruit come from all over the region (Camas, Southeast and Northeast Portland, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tigard), and parking for them is a problem. Although the company has a parking lot and leases some spaces across the street, “We are maxed out and can’t grow anymore at this location,” states Nemarnik, who wants to see more jobs in the district.

“Family wage jobs are important,” he emphasizes. “They create wealth.” Open to different kinds of economic activity in the area (e.g., design, software), Nemarnick cautions that office work shouldn’t replace manufacturing jobs. “We need to build stuff here and think about the education system for the trades. Companies will come here if there are trained employees.”

Regarding the possibility of more housing in the area, Nemarnik says, “I don’t mind residential close by, but a lot of residential would be a problem; it would force out business. And new residents need to be aware it will be urban living here. This is a 24-hour operation.”

This is the fourth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the businesses of the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.

Portland’s Central Eastside: A Regional Employment Center

A variety of enterprises makes the area one of the city's largest employment districts

The Central Eastside (CES) is home to more than 1,100 businesses and 17,000 jobs — more than any other district in the Central City outside of the downtown core. Industrial uses and creative businesses sit side-by-side, as the area becomes an emerging location for cross-industry exchange, from film and digital enterprises to food, creative services and craft industries.

While employment in other Central City areas decreased during the recent economic downturn, jobs increased in this district — in part because of a growing presence of traded sector industries. As it has evolved, the CES has become more attractive to a variety of businesses, outperforming its fellow employment districts thanks to a unique collection of historic industrial buildings, space affordability and centralized location near Portland’s business core.

To support continued economic development in the area, the City of Portland has made substantial public investments in multi-modal transportation infrastructure, such as light rail, streetcar, and bike and pedestrian facilities. The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) line, opening in 2015, includes two stations within the district next to several larger redevelopment opportunity sites, which could accommodate growth of existing businesses or attract new industries and employment to the district.

Employment Sectors

The 1,000+ businesses in the district fall into several key employment sectors. Some of these, such as warehousing and distribution, reflect the earliest industrial users of the district. Other businesses represent the changing and evolving face of industry, such as film production, software development and web-based industries.

While different, these various sectors and businesses are all attracted to the Central Eastside, whether for its central location, building stock or proximity to nearby industrial businesses in the area. The Central Eastside provides an ideal location for this unique mix to establish and grow.

Warehousing and distribution businesses first made this district, once known as Produce Row, Portland’s center for industrial activity. Over time some businesses have “outgrown” the district; the small block or grid pattern that characterizes most of the district, as well as transportation constraints associated with the city center, can make large scale production and freight mobility challenging.

Yet there are many businesses that depend on a centralized location for their customer base and reliable access to the regional transportation system — but can operate in smaller locations. For these enterprises, the CES is an attractive location.

Manufacturing has long been a major industrial sector within the Central Eastside. Wood and metal fabricators, as well as tool and equipment manufacturers, have populated the district since its inception, and many still exist today.

However, a manufacturing revolution is currently underway in the district, characterized by small businesses making specialty goods in modest spaces with advanced technologies. The manufacturing sector also includes businesses that specialize in food preparation, brewing, distilling, and bicycle manufacturing and repair. For instance, a building that may once have been used by a single metal fabrication company now contains several enterprises specializing in industrial design. They manufacture their concepts onsite, using traditional techniques as well as advanced manufacturing tools, such as 3D printing.

Although the scale and types of businesses are rapidly evolving, the Central Eastside remains an important center for Portland’s manufacturing sectors.

Industrial service businesses generally serve other industrial and business sectors within the district, as well as the Central City. Examples include companies that supply parts, provide specialized services for manufacturing processes or do equipment maintenance.

Industrial service providers have a large customer base within the district that depends on easy access to their services. For instance, a number of construction companies within the Central Eastside have easy access to multiple businesses that supply building materials and construction equipment. This allows contractors to quickly get to the supplies and equipment they depend on, saving them time and money.

Knowledge-based and design businesses, including film, advertising, software development, architecture, engineering and industrial design firms, are increasingly calling the Central Eastside home. They are attracted to the open flexible workspaces that support collaboration between employees and can easily be tailored to their needs.

Some choose the district for the old warehouses, which offer space for sound stages required for filming. Architects, engineers and other designers want to be close to their client base within the district, and the area offers spaces where they can both design and manufacture prototypes. Others find that the buildings provide a level of flexibility that accommodates their specific requirements. And some are simply attracted to the gritty urban character inherent to the district.

Whatever their reason for choosing the Central Eastside, design and knowledge-based businesses are becoming a major presence in the district. There is growing interest in attracting more of these types of businesses to the district as a way of increasing employment opportunities. The key, however, will be to provide for this rapidly evolving sector in ways that are compatible with long-standing and more traditional industrial users of the district.

This is the third installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the opportunities that exist in the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.