Recent development in Eliot has had two notable impacts on the area. The first is construction of large apartment blocks. The second is the flourishing of new cafes, bars, and restaurants in small storefronts. The big question in my mind is what will happen to these in the immediate, as well as long term future? Effort to allow bar and restaurant service in adjacent parking lots and sidewalks this summer is a necessary first step, but unlikely to be sufficient to preserve all of them. Will the storefronts left behind by those that close just be boarded up, returning Williams/Vancouver and MLK to the way it looked prior to these developments? Will residents in those multistory apartment blocks relocate to lower density rental properties where they have fewer contacts with strangers and high-touch surfaces? Will folks who are allowed to continue working from home relocate, either to larger accommodations (2-bedroom units from 1 or studios) or leave the city altogether? Any of these trends would change the character of Eliot as we have known it.
Some other trends that are likely to persist include the reduced travel to work, for those who can, and for shopping as well as general avoidance of malls and theaters where strangers are thrown together (undermining the need to widen I-5). Will this be the end of the Lloyd Center? Its plan to become an “event center” seems especially poorly timed now, especially with the future of some of its tenants, (Lloyd Cinemas, Macy’s) unclear. And what of the Blazers? The Rose Quarter is already one of the smallest NBA venues. Can the Blazers tolerate having only half the seats available for sale? And, what about the large conventions needed to support the Convention Center and new hotel? Perhaps the transition may be more “business as usual,” than a new normal governed by social distancing and mask-wearing with few risks for a rebirth of the pandemic. Somehow, I doubt it.