As previously discussed here and here, Division Street in SE Portland is about midway through an impressive overhaul. The majority of the construction is occurring from 30th to 35th, but the entire street from 10th to 82nd is seeing great changes. The street itself is getting some much needed love from the city as they are currently rebuilding the street with bioswales and new crosswalks below 40th, a new easier to navigate intersection at 42nd, and a road diet with bike lanes from 60th to 82nd. There are new apartment complexes going in at 48th and 43rd, and the controversial apartments at 37th avenue are nearly finished after a half-year stagnation period caused by a revoked building permit.
The vast majority of complaints I hear from the neighborhood come from the gangbuster construction zone from 30th to 35th. Endless delays and idling traffic are the result of the aforementioned street repair mixed with eight construction projects along the retail-heavy five blocks. Three of those projects are complete, but five are still in sidewalk-closing full construction, which has caused a zigzag labyrinth for pedestrians to navigate along the stretch. The neighbors may complain about the noise and loss of parking, but there is a tone of understanding and excitement that also comes with it. New businesses are already moving in, and property values are rising. The historic storefront center of Division, roughly from 35th to 37th, is seeing new life and new leases, but the center of activity appears to be leaning to the five blocks to the West.
Right now, walking around this section of Division is maze-like, but the future looks promising. The city has zoned the area as a walkable main street with a focus on storefronts and the ’20-minute neighborhood’ scale of development. The nearby Clinton Street is one of the oldest and most-ridden bikeways in Portland, and the street upgrades on Division include new bus bulb-outs, painted crosswalks, and ample bicycle parking. What was surface parking lots and an auto-repair shop are soon to become apartments over boutique shops and restaurants. The mix of old, new, and remodeled buildings create a nice urban fabric that has a unique density and street vibe that does not feel too overwhelming or out-of-place like some of the newer projects on similar main streets such as North Mississippi or NE Alberta.
By the end of this next summer, Division should calm down as all of the current projects are scheduled to wrap up around that time. The new Division will be different from the old, that goes without saying, but the outlook is good for the once sleepy street. As Portland grows up and becomes more and more city-like, each and every neighborhood will be forced to adapt to the new realities of increased density and demographic changes. Division street has thus far lucked out with its new collection of well-designed additions, and the neighborhood should look forward to enjoying the new amenities as the seemingly endless construction madness finally winds down.