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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.

Old Buildings, New Uses: Gardeners and Ranchers Building

The evolution of an industrial building

The Building Then

In 1922 the Italian Gardeners and Ranchers Association constructed the Italian Gardeners and Ranchers Association Market Building on Martin Luther King Blvd next to the Hawthorne Bridge viaduct.

Now known as the Gardeners and Ranchers Building, the three-story building provided farmers and peddlers with a central location to sell and distribute produce. The association and building were also instrumental in establishing the Central Eastside as a center for produce distribution and industry, and Gardeners and Ranchers served as a gathering place and ad hoc community center for newly arriving immigrants.

This building that once contained a produce market, dairy product section, a specialty Italian import grocer, a pool hall, meeting rooms, and later a clothing manufacturing facility, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Although it is no longer used for wholesale or produce distribution, its current tenants provide an example of how new industrial uses are populating the Central Eastside.


The Building Now

Today the Gardeners and Ranchers Building is home to more than 23 businesses that use every portion of the building, from the basement to the top floor.

Currently, the basement houses tenants like Ruckus Composites, which began repairing carbon fiber bike frames in a windowless 200 sq ft work space in 2008. Needing a place to paint their frames, they reached out to a cabinetmaker on the second floor, who made his paint booth available as needed. A few years in, the folks at Ruckus discovered they were not the only bike manufacturers in the building. They bumped into Oscar Camarena of Simple Bicycles, who shares his small work space loaded with metal fabrication tools with an architect/designer who makes specialty metal furnishings.

Next to Simple Bicycles is Plywerk, a small but growing company that does photo mounting and art panels in addition to constructing bamboo panels on site. Started in the basement of its founder, the company now occupies several hundred square feet of the Gardeners and Ranchers Building, where staff manufacture the frames as well as mount and ship the finished products to customers near and far.

The second (and top) floor of the building — an area likely used as the original meeting rooms and pool hall of the Italian Gardeners and Ranchers Association — now contains space used by Nike SB (skate boarding), Clogmaster (custom shoes), Virtual Native (web design), Plus QA (desktop and mobile applications) and Streetcar Press (publishing), among others.

The Gardeners and Ranchers Building presents an interesting case study of how older industrial buildings in the district can be reused by a mix of businesses, across different sectors. It also demonstrates how different businesses in the district form interdependent and synergistic relationships that help each one prosper.


This is the eighth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the industrial buildings 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.

Knowledge-Based and Design Business Profile: Transfer Online

Online shareholder management app developer represents a new kind of industry in the Central Eastside.

The self-proclaimed “first company to develop a web-based system for stock and shareholder management,” Transfer Online is a great example of a software company in the industrial district that manages web-based applications with a team of in-house developers.

President and CEO Lori Livingston moved the company to the Central Eastside from the Pearl District in 2010 because rents were going up on the west side, she didn’t like the tall buildings and was looking for a different environment. She prefers the raw, gritty nature of the area, the character of the buildings and the close-in location, which allows her 30 employees to take transit, walk and bike to work. While moving her business, she purchased the building on the corner of SE 7th and Salmon, where she has been hosting tenants of the Portland Development Commission’s Start-Up Challenge.

Livingston is no stranger to the urban industrial environment. She once had a business in one of New York City’s historic industrial districts, which flipped to high value condos and offices. “I saw small businesses — myself included — disappear from the city. I don’t want that to happen here.”

As a landlord, Livingston knows what tenants are looking for: bike parking, showers, retail and restaurants. And she wants to see more retail amenities closer to her business, “So you don’t have to get in a car to go out to lunch.”

This is the seventh 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.

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.