They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

As we continue our search for the perfect location I cannot help but think of the Philip Eastman book my mother used to read to me, "Are You my Mother?" You remember the story; the one with the baby bird who falls from his nest and ventures on a quest to find his real mother? Each time a realtor unlocks the door I find myself feeling a little lost but remaining hopeful, the inside of me asking, "Are you my restaurant?"

Today our quest lead us to an end cap located on NE 60th and Glisan. The area is technically in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, an area we love, and is also close to Mt. Tabor. From what we understand the landlord has done some extensive storefront improvements. Painted red brick with a built in planter box outside (I immediately envision snake grass) and large expansive windows create an inviting entrance. The end-cap space actually shares two ADA bathrooms with the retail space next door which happens to also be vacant. We asked the realtor about the possibility of widening the common doorway to allow easier access to both spaces and she seemed to think it would work. Combined the two retail spaces equal approximately 2500 sq. feet, the perfect amount of space for what we would be trying to accomplish. And so the observing and scrutinizing began...

The first space was perfect. Today was the first day in Portland that actually felt like Spring and for the first time in days the sunlight was able to escape the clouds. We were delighted to see how much natural light the two windows provided throughout the space and became even more delighted when we saw that one wall was in completely covered in exposed brick. I'm not sure why but I have always had a thing for exposed brick, I find it both masculine and comforting. When the realtor said possible TI (tenant improvements) could include hardwood floors I was ready to sign the lease right then and there. Nevertheless, the space was simply too small by itself which of course forced us to look into the idea of adding the second retail space into the lease agreement.

The second space was less impressive and consequently carried a better price tag. Nondescript and seemingly lifeless, I mentioned to Evan that we could easily close off part of it to make an office for ourselves. But in the end it was clear that the only highlight of the second space aside from additional sq. footage was that it had access to the first space. Also appealing was the unfinished basement down below- the perfect possibility for dry storage.

All in all we were quite intrigued with NE 60th and Glisan. Our only major concern was the lack of parking around the area. Unless we made an arrangement with the building next door, there are only three parking spaces available in the provided lot. While many of the locations we've looked at lack a lot all together, for some reason when a lot does exist but in a completely pathetic way, it makes me ask, "why even bother?" rather than appreciate its existence at all.

And so we return home, not sure if we've found our "mother" or not. We are forced to ask ourselves these practical questions:
1. Does this building draw you enough to stop and eat here?
2. Would you be willing to eat here even if you had to park 1/2 block away?
3. Does the second space make you want to curl up and die or is there something you can do to make it work?
4. Who lives in this community? Are they walkers, bikers, public transportation commuters?
5. What can we do to make a positive contribution to this community? What services are lacking or could be improved upon?
6. How long do we wait until we make a proposal?
7. What TIs could we ask for from the landlord that won't scare him away?

We like the space but do we love it? Maybe she is our mother- busted parking lot and all. Or perhaps she's just some distant relative that merely bares a resemblance.

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