Overshadowed though it may be today by the Cook Street Lofts apartment complex currently under construction across the street, the Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church (3138 N Vancouver Avenue) is an institution of the Eliot neighborhood and of African American history in Portland . The Church appears similar to most others across Portland, with a brick facade, stained glass windows, and a mid-sized wooden steeple. However, it is one of the few remaining structures from Vancouver Avenue in the 1950s, and a link to the era when the area was known as “Black Broadway”: the hub of African American life and culture in Portland.
On the transportation side, a few things are heating up. City staff hosted a meeting about a future NE 7th or 9th avenue bikeway. There was a strong preference to use 7th in Eliot’s section of the greenway due to it being cheaper and being able to address other safety concerns on 7th avenue at the same time. There is concern from the City’s perspective about diverting many of the cars from 7th to other routes although they have some tools to help this.
There are quite a few projects going up right now in and around Eliot. North Eliot is getting most of the action. The two proposed large six-plus story tower developments at NE Fremont and Williams as well as the project at NE 7th and Russell have driven the most uproar. However, there are a number of other developments being proposed or already under construction.
One house, two house, red house blue house, both will be gone soon. The two houses on Cook near Vancouver are slated to be demolished, forever erasing 110 years of history in the neighborhood.
During the great recession of 2008, many construction projects nationwide halted. New project proposals slowed to a rate that has not been seen in recent memory. Property values fell nationwide, but some interesting trends were associated with those changes. More Americans are starting to value walkable, close-in neighborhoods, like Eliot, over more car-dependent areas. And these preferences are not just with their hearts but also with their dollars. This was a trend that has been going on in Portland for quite a while, but it is having some real results on the ground in Eliot in the ‘10s.