I'm surprised by how many vacant lots there are on NE Alberta. For a street that's at the center of demographic change in Portland, that's gone in just over a decade from being a drug hotspot to written up in the New York Times as a "hub of the creative class" that's a great place to buy a boutique felt hat, in my mind I've given it entirely over to condos and brunch places. Especially since that laundromat closed.
But, no! In reality, the street is still full of vacant lots in between the flashy new development—my eyes just slide over them.
One of the vacant lots will be gone for good soon, though: A two story mixed-use building is going up at NE 20th and Alberta, on the grassy lot that has been vacant for at least a decade. Plans in 2006 to turn it into a 59-unit, six-story condo building fell through, but the the new plan comes from the development team behind Alberta Central, the mixed-use building where Barista is just down the block, and will also renovate the ACME building on NE 21st.
The new development, dubbed Alberta 20:20, will have nine first-floor retail spaces between the two buildings with office space above. Like Alberta Central, it will have some courtyard space, rather than being flush to the curb for the entire block. "There's lower Alberta, and there's upper Alberta. This is going to fill a void in there," says architect John Cooley. Here's a rough rendering, with the ACME building in front:
One quantitative sign of change: Since 1997, the lot's value has grown from $13,400 to $331,660. For the past couple years, the lot has been site of a mini neighborhood battle between neighborhood residents, who routinely use the lot as picnic-smoking-tea drinking space during Last Thursday, and the owners, who erected a fence around it.