The corner of Foster and 72nd gets plenty of use by drivers, bikers and walkers. And with the various plans in the works, the area will almost certainly see even more in the years to come.
Until recently, the three lots on the south side of Foster were the home of Metro Auto Wholesalers. But when the economy tanked, so did Metro Auto, leaving the mortgage-holder –the local nonprofit Albina Community Bank –as the owner of the property. The smallest lot of the three (the one on the southeast corner of 73rd and Foster) was taken over by Aboy Hardware’s Gardening Center, which had it’s own financial difficulties for a while but has come out with a stronger commitment to the Foster Road area.
The two larger lots were acquired by the PDC for future use. The lot on the SE corner of 72nd and Foster is likely to become the home of the new Portland Mercado, though nothing’s set in stone yet. There are no plans currently on the table for the third lot –the one on the SW corner –though ROSE CDC did prepare a plan for a mixed-use project that would have housed low-income people with disabilities there.
Transit-oriented development is a goal of Portland’s planners and policymakers, and 72nd and Foster is a perfect spot for it. That’s why the area has come up again and again in discussions of mixed-use development along Foster.
This area is ripe for something good. Its accessibility to frequent transit and proximity to Mt Scott Park, Fred Meyer and other local services make it a great choice for future affordable housing and retail. As ROSE CDC recognized, this corner is ideally suited for seniors and differently-abled people who would like to live independently but who need to be sure that they can get to the grocery store safely. If the Mercado comes to 72nd and Foster, it will bring exactly the kind of local small-business focus and pedestrian activity that the neighborhood needs to thrive.
But 72nd and Foster is already one of the busiest transit stops along Foster. According to PBOT, it’s also one of the most dangerous in terms of numbers of car-car, car-bike, and car-pedestrian collisions. It’s a confusing intersection, with the 72nd Ave couplet and greenway to the north and a fairly busy Raymond Street running to the east toward Marysville School.
Adding additional pedestrian-intensive uses without planning safer ways to get people across the street will only exacerbate the issues we’re already seeing. It is the job of the Streetscape CAC to ensure that this area of Foster is ready for the uses that will be coming soon, ready or not.