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(Aug. 9, 2016) - Commissioner Steve Novick, Transportation Director Leah Treat and representatives from Old Town Chinatown and the Ankeny Alley associations cut the ribbon today on Portland’s newest public space: Ankeny Plaza.
The project is the latest in a series of programs and projects by the Portland Bureau of Transportation celebrating “Portland in the Streets.” As part of the celebration, PBOT released an interactive map highlighting the numerous resources, events and activities Portlanders can use, visit, lead or join that take place in the public right-of-way, including Ankeny Plaza, BIKETOWN, block parties, street fairs and Portland Sunday Parkways.
Ankeny Plaza, Portland’s latest example of innovation in the public right-of-way, covers 20,000 square feet -- the equivalent of half a downtown city block -- on SW Third Avenue. Located in front of Voodoo Doughnut, just east of the Keep Portland Weird Mural and just west of Portland Saturday Market, Ankeny Plaza creates a welcoming public space at a key destination for tourists and locals alike.
The idea first came to PBOT’s attention when Better Block PDX and businesses in Old Town Chinatown held a three-day, public space demonstration project in October 2014. The event’s success led to further collaboration between PBOT and the local neighborhood and business associations.
The Third Avenue Reconfiguration Project was the first stage of the effort, followed by the installation of Ankeny Plaza. The Second Avenue Reconfiguration Project began last weekend and is nearing completion.
To create Ankeny Plaza, angled parking on SW 3rd Avenue between W Burnside and SW Ankeny was removed and new parking spaces were installed approximately 29 feet west of the curb running parallel to the street. Adjacent to the parking spots are new, self-watering planters as additional protection and greenery for the cafe seating in the new public space.
The Ankeny Alley Association will manage the day-to-day maintenance of the new Plaza as part of their agreement with PBOT. Businesses using the cafe seating in the space have sidewalk use permits. A BIKETOWN station and kiosk were also installed in the new plaza.
The total cost of the Ankeny Plaza project is $20,000 from PBOT’s Community Permitting Program. The Portland Development Commission also awarded a $82,000 PDC Community Livability Grant to the Ankeny Alley Association for the project. This additional money has not yet been allocated. PBOT and the Ankeny Alley Association are exploring long-term improvements and strategies to best use this additional funding.
“Back in May, City Council proclaimed the summer of 2016 to be Portland in the Streets season. We made that proclamation because we wanted to highlight what a valuable resource our streets are not just for getting around, but for beloved community events like Sunday Parkways, block parties, street fairs, farmers’ markets and now, Ankeny Plaza,” said Commissioner Steve Novick. “Our streets are our largest public space and here in Portland we are very good at using them to celebrate community, to foster our neighborhood businesses and, of course, to have a lot of fun.”
“In Portland, streets are the most abundant type of public space, occupying nearly 20 percent of land area in our city,” said Transportation Director Leah Treat. “This plaza is setting an example for the rest of the city as we embark on our Livable Streets Strategy that will support new innovation in the public right-of-way.”
Said James Silviano, President of the Ankeny Alley Association, “When the city of Portland, and Portland Development Commission step up and make these kinds of improvements, we feel it. All of us feel like we stand together, and the city is behind us.”
“In 2013, the Old Town/Chinatown Community Association, in partnership with the PDC’s 5-year Action Plan, embarked on a journey in making the neighborhood one of the best in Portland,” said Helen Ying, Board President of the Old Town China Community Association. “One of the perceived obstacles that bubbled up was that the traffic patterns and Burnside Boulevard had divided the north side of the neighborhood from the south side. With the pedestrian improvements along SW Second and Third avenues making it easier for people to explore the neighborhood, we have created a bridge for that divide.”
“The north/south protected bike route on 2nd and 3rd allows a safer connection for bicyclists,” said Dan Lenzen, Old Town Chinatown Community Association Business Committee Chair. “Every intersection in Old Town now has a designated crosswalk. The PBOT street realignment has given us safer auto speeds. Pedestrians can now walk, shop and dine throughout our neighborhood safer. All this has been done with a 0 net effect to district parking.”
“Better Block PDX is proud to see PBOT implement these public space improvements that were initially proposed by the neighbors and businesses in the Old Town Chinatown Community Association,” said Better Block PDX Volunteer Ryan Hashagen. “It’s great to see how one weekend of people sitting on hay bales and playing ping pong in the street can spark a larger community conversation and imagination!”
Portlanders interested in organizing a street fair, block party, community barbecue, marathon, parade or other event in Portland's streets can get additional information at: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/66077
An interactive map that includes street fairs, farmers markets, BIKETOWN, Ankeny Plaza and other activities in Portland’s streets can be view at: http://arcg.is/20Cv1HJ