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PBOT is intent, at the moment, in helping businesses by letting them use part of the street -- here's how

DAVID F. ASHTON - Gino Accuardi, of Ginos Restaurant and Bar, says hes looking forward to the European atmosphere to be created by the planned weekend Main Street Plaza in the road, on S.E. 13th in Sellwood. (The postal carrier in the background is greeting BEE readers - hes one of the dedicated crew who bring you your BEE each month!) Businesses in Sellwood along S.E. 13th Avenue have taken the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) up on their "Healthy Businesses Permit" project, so that they can use some side-street pavement for outdoor seating, pickup areas, and queuing zones.

While volunteer organizers wait for PBOT approval for the "Main Street Plaza" that would actually close off S.E. 13th Avenue from S.E. Tacoma Street as far north as Lexingtom on weekends, the local coordinators are still looking for a replacement for the project's placeholder name, "Sellwood Square".

"Now, we are asking our community to select the new name for the Main Street Plaza, and that poll will be available on our website – www.sellwoodsquare.com," said Media Engagement Coordinator Erika Richter on behalf of the project's volunteer committee and leaders, including Ayomide Nikzi, and Carman Vannieuwkerk.

"Of course, our website's URL will be updated to reflect the new name, once we have gathered input from our community," observed Richter.

PROVIDED ILLUSTRATION - What might the proposed Main Street Plaza, on S.E. 13th Avenue on weekends, actually look like? Heres the design thats been submitted. "Our general awareness campaign is going well," Richter commented. "Businesses and neighbors are responding with full support. We recently met with the SMILE [the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood association] to provide an update last week, and we're grateful for their support.

"To that end, we're working diligently to figure out how to expedite the approval process with PBOT, so that we can get S.E. 13th Avenue closed [up to four blocks north of Tacoma] on the weekends. This is critical," said Richter.

Current proposed site plans for the "Main Street Plaza" include:

· Business shared spaces

· Parking; both 5 minute and 30 minute pickup zones

· Emergency Access Corridor

· Micro Enterprise Spaces

· Public Activity Spaces

"Our plans have been submitted to PBOT, and we have almost unanimous support from the local business owners, and more than 80 residential neighbors respondents who have signed on to our petition of support," Richter pointed out.

'Business Plazas' open in August

The first Sellwood "Side Street Plaza", on Nehalem Street, running to about 100 feet west of S.E. 13th Avenue. Grand Central Bakery, was the first Side Street Plaza to be approved. Tea Chai Te, and Milieu, among others, are to be featured in this space. These plazas will be open daily, from noon until 9 p.m.

Looking forward to the opening of the "Side Street Plaza" on Spokane Street was Gino Accuardi, of Gino's Restaurant and Bar, at 8051 S.E. 13th Avenue – under the historic "Leipzig Tavern" sign.

"We already have a 'Parking Plaza', and being able to expand, while we still have nice weather, will allow us to staff up a little more and safely serve customers," Accuardi told THE BEE.

"This, and the 'Main Street Plaza', if approved, will help bring people some fun, and the feeling of a little normalcy while social distancing," Accuardi said. "I'm looking at it as a fun social experiment; it's kind of a European feel that's just right for an Italian restaurant, other local businesses, and micro-pop-up venders."

Another "Side Street Plaza" will be along S.E. Lexington Street, next to Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters – a business that currently also has a "Parking Plaza" permit and outdoor seating.

"It's lovely that we can stay open and serve the community," said Blue Kangaroo's Sheema Shariat.

It's very important that we can continue to safely serve our community, that we dearly love; and, with the larger space we're sharing with the food cart pod, have a nice place to visit here in our neighborhood," Shariat added. Although no "Main Street Plaza" street closure is planned for Westmoreland, a number of merchants – especially restaurants – have taken advantage of the opportunity to set up "Parking Plazas" along S.E. Milwaukie Avenue and Bybee Boulevard, and more likely are coming.

Learn more about this PBOT-promoted project as it develops, online – www.sellwoodsquare.com


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