The Street Eats extended, and Portland pulls a… Portland.

A report in The Columbian newspaper mentions that the City of Vancouver has extended the “Street eats” program for a full three years. This was a program designed to give local restaurants additional seating space outdoors during the pandemic to help them stay afloat. This allowed restaurants to apply for a grant and permission to use one or two on street parking spaces to build covered out door seating areas. It was highly successful and likely saved the businesses of numerous restaurants. There is even an app showing the participating restaurants. Three years may seem like a long time, but I think this has evolved into a business opportunity rather than just a makeshift effort to support local business.

Downtown Vancouver actually has pretty good parking for a mid-sized city with the level of density we have. I know some people get cranky when they can pull right in front of the place they want to go, come on, walk a half block, it won’t kill you 😉 This program maxes the number of spaces used to just 50 and that is an almost immeasurably small percentage of total available parking in the city core. It is truly nominal. I think city officials see an opportunity to create a more lively atmosphere and if so, I agree.

Portland pulls a “Portland.” Yes that’s a thing. The Columbian also reported that a local anti-highway group in Portland called “No More Freeways” filed suit against the federal government claiming a plan to add auxiliary lanes to I-5 at the Rose Quarter would cause more pollution. I have nothing against a group that wants to promote public transit and fewer cars, that’s all fine and well. But there is more to a highway system than just commuting and such. Highways are an integral part of every modern country on the planet. The section of I-5 through the Rose Quarter is a joke, it is a laughing stock. Portland is a major US city, and it has its primary arterial Interstate 5 choked down to just two lanes in each direction. This group doesn’t seem to understand that choking traffic to a crawl is the number one cause of localized automobile air pollution. Literally the science is all over this. Ah but science is only useful to an activist when it supports the cause, otherwise it is a nuisance best ignored.

Portland and the ODOT are not planning to expand the capacity of I-5 but rather to just add much needed auxiliary lanes allowing cars to safely and smoothly mitigate the transitions on and off the various ramps supporting the busy Rose Quarter area. I have little doubt this group will succeed in bullying local officials to pull out of the program, denying Portlanders a safe downtown highway, increasing traffic incidents and adding more pollution as congested traffic dumps exhaust of idling cars into local neighborhoods. Oh, and killing off $800 million in construction revenue and great union jobs for local workers. Nice one Portland… please stay south of the Columbia River, we don’t want to catch the brain cell killing disease you seem to have down there.

This anti highway attitude in Portland is the primary reason I do not support a ten lane bridge to replace the Interstate Bridge. Portland is not going to expand the I-5 corridor so there is no logical reason to have more than three lanes through on each side with one or two auxiliary lanes to support merging traffic. The key to the new bridge will be the approaches and ramps to keep merging cars rolling safely and smoothly.

Several projects in the urban core are in the final stretches including Angelo’s Mill Plain II Tower which provides much needed parking to support the Mill Plain I office tower and offers retail, office, and 44 units of housing. That project should be ready Q3 this year. The Kirkland Tower and Indigo Hotel project will likely be completed sometime this summer. Kirkland is already pushing through another project just north of the Waterfront and their other project dubbed Waterfront east has been in the new lately as well. The large seven story, 248 unit apartment building on Block 20 of the Waterfront is also in the final stages with exterior cladding and interior build-out underway.

I’m still waiting for groundbreaking announcements for both the ‘Timberhouse’ project on Block 3 of the Waterfront and the Broadstone on Block 17. Kirkland has not released publicly the pricing for the units in the nearly complete Kirkland Tower. This will be the newest and one of the nicest urban high-rise condominium opportunities in Vancouver. I still feel like the accelerated activity int he high-end Tidewater condo project with multi-million dollar units closing recently in much higher than average numbers could be indicative that Kirkland is doing well on pre-sales of units int he new 12 story tower.

For the fine-dining crowd: DosAlas directly above Wildfin at the Grant Street Pier, should open within a couple months and the El Gaucho restaurant at the new Indigo Hotel should be open shortly after the Hotel opens to the public late summer early fall.

The urban condo market remains strong, but it is not as crazy as the single family housing market in Vancouver which is just plain nuts right now. Anyone tired of endless bidding wars and offers 30% over ask can relax a little bit on the condos as those tend to be a little more ‘civilized’ transaction.

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