It was downright cosmopolitan. I got to attend the opening night for two new Portland restaurants on the same evening.
The big news this week is that the Portland Press Herald was finally sold. There have been discussions and negotiations for months and finally, the new owners of our city’s daily paper have signed on the dotted line. As a result, there are 31 less managers throughout the company and the real estate assets are already up for sale with a line of potential buyers out the door. The main building housing the operations sits at the top of the Old Port, directly across from City Hall, with the old printing facility and massive parking lot across the street.
Things that are making me happy about Portland this week:
The City of Portland has figured out a creative way to support the arts. The new arts tax increment financing (TIF) is the first of its kind in the country. It recognizes that as artists make a place more attractive, they threaten their own sustainability. So now, when developers make improvements through renovation or construction in the Arts District, an increase in property value means giving back.
The first day that the thermometer hit 70, I heard the jingle of the Good Humor ice cream truck making its rounds throughout the neighborhood. You hear it first. Then you see it slowly turn the corner, creeping down the street at 10 miles per hour.
I’ve been a fan of Videoport since 1995 when I was living in Portsmouth and driving to Portland to rent my movies. The store is that good.
Opened in 1987 by Bill Duggan, Videoport is a Portland icon of quirkiness and independence. They file their movies under headers such as Incredibly Strange Films (which includes the entire Russ Meyers collection) as well as a niche section dedicated strictly to Anime.
My friend Christopher Campbell is an architect living in Portland and working around the state. He just completed a residential job on an island in the midcoast and was looking to get it featured in Dwell, the magazine specializing in modern design for the built environment. I am a Dwell subscriber and pounce on it the minute it hits my mailslot. Pages and pages of sleek modern residences filled with creative people and innovative solutions to living space. Meow.
That’s the overriding sentiment from residents in response to last week’s pronouncement by Forbes magazine, calling Portland “American’s Most Livable City.”
The rankings compared cities for income growth, cost of living and culture as well as low levels of crime and unemployment. Our neighbors in the top five are Bethesda, MD, Des Moines, IA, Bridgeport/Stamford, CT and Tulsa, OK.
I cannot count how many times I have walked past the Masonic Temple on Congress Street but I can tell you how many times I have noticed it: Zero.
On the street level, there are bland businesses with drop ceilings, fluorescent lights and rotating tenants. What’s to notice?
Recently, I got to tour the interior because membership in the Masons is dwindling and the building is now up for sale at $5.25 million.
This week I was a guest panelist at the forum “Sustainable Portland by 2030! How Do We Get There?” sponsored by the Portland Society of Architects and the Urban Land Institute. My fellow panelists included former city councilor and mayor Jim Cohen, Muskie School professor Charlie Colgan, CBRE/The Boulos Company president Morris Fisher and investigative journalist Colin Woodard. The title of the event threw me off as I thought it was focused on green initiatives but the core question