Architecture trend: retail alleyways
There are four new developments going up around Portland with one thing in common: retail alleys.
There are at least four new developments going up around Portland with one thing in common: retail alleyways.
As shopping centers and malls like Pioneer Place and Mall 205 suffer hits and misses (Washington Square is still healthy), architects around town have been incorporating active street-level shopping and cafes with public green spaces, plazas, bike parking and creative bus stops at a single-project level.
Portland's modern take on active transportation — incorporating bikeways, skybridges, the Green Loop and Tilikum Crossing — is looking toward a more sustainable future, one lot at a time.
Critics fear no one will be able to afford to live above these new street retailers or want to lease the retail space, but designers are combating these fears by establishing anchor tenants, offering affordable housing and creating active access to transport, like a green walk through a block to a MAX station.
Most notably, they're adding active pedestrian walkways to provide alternative to busy traffic, and lining them with retailers and incentives for taking a walk, such as cobblestones from the city's historic inventory.
Dave Otte, principal at Holst Architecture, is taking the lead at 1400 N.E. Multnomah St., a recently approved development for a superblock in the Lloyd District.
"Rather than overlaying the 200x200 (regular-sized) Portland block structure over the site, we instead have taken specific context and responded by linking a major diagonal pedestrian promenade from the southwest corner to the northeast corner through the site that matches the historic traffic patterns through the site," Otte told the Business Tribune in an earlier interview. "There's a sidewalk there now that traces the same path we're going to use as an organizing element through the whole site, but with a very grand pedestrian promenade open to bikes and pedestrians with decks and fountains and art that connects to restaurants and retail — a very lively pedestrian experience through there."
No public streets will route through the development, only private drives and pedestrian and cycling paths, some underneath the buildings.
The trend gives pedestrians their own space away from busy vehicle roads, livening up the city streets.
The Business Tribune looked into retail alleys freshly built and still under construction to check out innovative active landscapes in architecture.
6637 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.
Designer: Waechter Architecture
This urban alleyway for pedestrians only, completed this summer, is between a 1929 Spanish Colonial building (the Relish Gastropub) and two new developments on its south and west sides, creating a special corner along Southeast Milwaukie and Claybourne Streets. The pedestrian alley is filled up with shops and cafes, and is scaled to be reminiscent of Old World streets.
Retailers in this alley include Fairlane Coffee, Salon 202, Perican Bing and wellness practitioners.
Around the back of the west wing is the site for Claybourne Commons row houses, also designed by Waechter Architecture.
The row house foundations have been poured, and construction is underway at both developments.
Developer: Killian Pacific Partnership
Designer: Ankrom Moisan Architects
Contractor: Andersen Construction
This mixed-use development consists of three separate, large buildings spread across two superblocks, the size of four regular city blocks that surround it.
This famously large development with 97,000 square feet of retail and 247 apartments is known for its site, which was once home to a herd of goats.
Filling a superblock with more buildings spread across the streets in the area, the distinct structures are separated by a series of alleys. The North building has four floors of apartments above the anchor grocery store Market of Choice, and to the west a two-story market retail building is underway.
The south building has five floors of apartments about the hardware store, and the east building has smaller retail spaces beneath three floors of apartments.
Along Yamhill Alley, concrete steps rise to a plaza with downtown views and access to multiple small retail stores, some of which are as small as a few hundred square feet. Yamhill Alley and Market Terrace feature plants growing up greenwalls and vines overhead.
The anchor retailers, who have more than 100,000 square feet of space, will be Orchard Supply Hardware and Market of Choice.
Retailers are scheduled to open by January, after residents move in this December.
Lloyd IMAX Theater Lot
1400 N.E. Multnomah
District: The Lloyd
Designer: Holst Architecture
Landscape architect: 2.ink Studio
Developers: Bob Bisno, Dan Palmer
This development for 37,780 square feet of ground-level retail below 677 apartments and 12 live-work units is on the site of the IMAX parking lot. Plans include micro restaurants along with retail spaces, activating the pedestrian zones near the MAX station along Northeast 13th Ave.
It's another superblock site, transitioning nearly five acres from surface parking to pedestrian heaven.
There's a private drive leading into the resident and shopping garage along Northeast Hassalo Street that intersects with the pedestrian way in a large plaza.
The plaza plans include picnic table seating for the micro restaurants, a digital art wall and walkable water feature. The plaza also hosts the main entry to the southeast building.
"The way we're articulating the building with continuously changing geometry, we're trying to create a very lively facade that is more than just a facade treatment — it's changing the volume and massing of the building to break down the scale to be more suitable to the pedestrian realm," Otte said.
A Maker Hub, located next to the live-work units, has plans for roll-up garage style doors facing the pedestrian walkway.
The path ends at Multnomah Gateway near the intersection of Northeast Multnomah Street and 15th Avenue, flanked by retail spaces. Multnomah and 13th plans include continuous retail space along the sidewalk.
District: Old Town China Town
Developer: Gerding Edlen
Designer: Ankrom Moisan Architects
Contractor: R&H Construction
AMA designed this building for their own new office, with three levels of office space and two floors of workforce housing, with some income restrictions — it's an equal housing opportunity for those earning less than 80 percent of the median family income. It's a six-story building with an active ground floor: three retail spaces front the corner of Northwest First Avenue and Davis Street.
Ainsworth Lane, the pedestrian alley along Northwest First, includes outdoor tables and seating, plant life and bike racks.
It uses 768 square feet of cobblestones from the city's historic inventory in the alleyway and along Northwest Naito Parkway, exiting along Northwest Couch Street. The material was approved because the location is within the historic district of Old Town.
Along Northwest Naito Parkway and Davis Street, the pedestrian right-of-way features a cast iron grove, serving as an entrance to Portland's cast-iron district, with plants and extended sidewalks.
Portland has the second largest collection of cast-iron architecture in the nation — built mainly between 1850 and 1880 — only topped by New York City's historic Soho District.
Around the block is a station for Blue and Red MAX Lines, it's near Amtrak's Union Station and the Greyhound bus station — it's walk score is 97, transit score 91 and bike score 99.