Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

To this Portlander, this feels right.

Huh: I have been a Portland resident long enough to miss things. As have a lot of us: Portland's having growing pains, and a lot of development in places we didn't think would get redeveloped. A well-known Hawthorne Blvd. bar even I've been to, Sewick's Lounge — known as Sewickley's Addition when I moved to near it in 2001, and which people pronounced "Sewickity's" for some reason, AND a place where one time the already-infamous Tonya Harding jumped behind the bar to start mixing drinks — is another high-profile place scheduled to be knocked down and replaced with mixed-use development featuring apartments. (I'd wondered recently whether the building's long-closed Sewickley's Home Plate Diner was going to reopen. I GUESS I HAVE THAT ANSWER NOW.) Another such building's going up at SE 50th and Division, next to Landmark Saloon; when I asked one of the Landmark workers exactly what it was, he said "What do you think?" Portlandia probably shouldn't do a sketch about new mixed-use buildings in Portland; that'd rub salt in wounds.

I and others in Portland are having angst about both losing neat places, and the risk of being priced out of what's left. It's nowhere near the nightmare a place like the San Francisco Bay Area currently has; but we still worry, probably irrationally, about whether we'd get to the same nightmare. Meanwhile, for several reasons, we're still losing stuff. Now I'm thinking of The Red Coach, a downtown restaurant from the 1960s to a few years ago — new owners did a hell of a job reviving it, I thought, when they made it into a burger bar called All Way. I went there a lot last year, and felt I was getting at least a taste of what people had loved about Red Coach. But then All Way closed, too. Shoot. Not for rent or redevelopment, so this is a different angst, but: a cool place, not there anymore.

Backspace ain't there anymore for rent-related reasons; it's another place I miss. It was a spacious and welcoming restaurant, bar, computer lounge, and art/performance space in Old Town, and it closed in 2013. That hit extra hard because we'd fought for it; I and others backed a fundraiser in 2012 to help the place out of a financial hole. The owners tried to move Backspace to East Portland; that hasn't happened yet. So it likely won't.

There's still a small victory, though. The Backspace rooms, empty for two-and-a-half years, will soon be home to an expanded Ground Kontrol, the retro-futuristic video arcade around the corner. Ground Kontrol is a good place, and is doing well, and is making sure it's not going anywhere. And thus, a neat piece of Portland is going to be neater. I was moved to tweet to Ground Kontrol, "Do the Backspace space proud."

We can't have everything we love(d) about Portland, but we can have this.
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments