An eye on downtown Milwaukie

A lot has changed in the past couple of years in Milwaukie – especially downtown Milwaukie. A new, younger council has been elected. They’re bringing new ideas. A new population is moving in. A younger population. Refugees from Portland that can’t afford to live there any longer lured by large lots and space (and one of Portland metro’s largest selection of mid-century housing). Their mayor – and at least one council member – commute by bike.

Light rail started service in mid-September. It will – it already has – brought changes. New businesses, shifting shopping patterns and not enough parking. (Hey, at least people are using it.)

Milwaukie has a rich, historical past that’s often overlooked. The Lot Whitcomb, launched in December, 1850, was the first steam-powered craft built on the Willamette River. The Bing cherry was created in Milwaukie. Gary Gilmore, the first American to be executed in ten years after the death penalty was re-instated, attended Milwaukie High. So did his brother, Mikal Gilmore, author of Shot in the Heart and a well-known Rolling Stone magazine writer.

It’s an interesting time to live in or near downtown. It’s like a case study for rejuvenating a small Main street. Downtown is like a blank slate, ready for new shops and spaces. It’s either going to happen or not (2008 is a prime example of the house of cards collapsing). Some of the issues and events at hand – and ones this blog will be covering and watching:

-Demolition of a block of businesses to make room for a parking structure (the owner’s have every right to do so, unfortunately. The city council has passed code so this can’t happen again). Will there be a stay of execution for the block of buildings that includes a popular coffeeshop, church, restaurant, and a boutique?

-Dark Horse – they take up most of the bottom floor retail and if downtown is to survive and grow, they’re going to need ground-floor space. Dark Horse has already moved some of its space upstairs.

-Light rail – are new businesses really moving in? What will be developed? How will the downtown change?

-Safer infrastructure for pedestrians via the Monroe Neighborhood Greenway.

-Removing the dam at Kellogg Creek.

-The city council just passed new code to allow food carts and a food cart pod.

-Milwaukie is looking to get the Portland Parkways into downtown Milwaukie next year.

That’s a lot going on and we plan on diving in and reporting on it.

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