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Fairview Food Carts, Part I

Fairview friends, you’re getting food carts.


A pod is scheduled to open on Sept. 1 at the corner of Halsey Street and 223rd Street with as many as 16 food carts, an enclosed eating hall with bar, bathrooms, a play area, a place to project movies and host musicians, and a public plaza with a towering 40-foot art sculpture.



The pod will have 250 seats, indoors and out, and 85 parking spaces. The south-facing parking lot on the site is designed to allow for a farmer’s market to spring up when the seasons are right.


I can take neither credit nor blame for the project. The Fairview food cart pod was approved by the city council last fall, prior to the November election.


Fairview Mayor Brian Cooper is the project champion, quickly driving it forward through financial, code, and design reviews and approvals. At a council meeting this week, Mayor Cooper said the food cart “checks more than a dozen boxes” from recent resident surveys and council goals. Those include boosting the Main Streets on Halsey effort to build a walkable main street for Fairview, Wood Village, and Troutdale, creating new eating options in the city, and building a place for the community to gather to listen to drink, eat, shop, listen to local music, watch movies, or let the kids play while you kick back with a beer.


The Portland metro region is famous for its food cart scene, and the Fairview pod is inspired by the upscale, bustling pod in nearby Happy Valley. Called Happy Valley Station, it features 18 carts offering everything from Thai noodles to Philly cheese steaks. The Happy Valley facility has a covered beer garden with over 45 beer taps and six wine taps and is open to host business meetings, birthday parties, even wedding receptions.


The project stands to bring Fairview significant benefits – and risks. In October, the council voted to sign a 10-year lease on the land the pod will sit on, and to borrow the money to develop the site through the city’s urban renewal program. The city will also hire an operator to run the pod, getting Fairview in the business of running a business. Development costs for the site, the mayor reported this week, are expected to run $2.5 to $3 million. (Don’t worry. Your property taxes won’t go up to pay for food carts. Urban renewal financing allows the city to borrow against future tax revenue. I’m still learning about this whole system. A pretty good description of urban renewal can be found on the City of Lake Oswego website).


The food cart pod project is moving really fast. At our Jan. 6 council meeting – right after I was sworn in – we hired P&C Construction to design and build the site (see Page 18 of the council meeting materials) with a Phase I cost of $91,228. At our meeting last week, on Feb. 3, the council approved amendments to city building codes to allow for food cart pods and to set the bar for safety, appearance, amenities, and other issues.


You can get an overview of the code changes here, if you scroll down to Page 26 in the council packet, where you’ll find a terrific presentation by Fairview Senior Planner Sarah Selden.



A high-level summary of the new code:


· Single food carts are not allowed in Fairview, only pods of four or more carts

· Pods can only be created in the “town center commercial” zone that runs along Halsey and includes a handful of possible parcels

· Fire, food sanitation, and other safety rules set by the county and state must be met

· Pods must be set back at least three feet from the street and create “an attractive and engaging pedestrian environment” along Halsey

· Drinking water, paved surfaces, outdoor lighting, and bathrooms with sanitary sewer connections and hand washing stations are required

· No lattice, cyclone fencing, or other inexpensive materials are allowed


Those code changes, already extensively vetted and approved by our planning commission, were unanimously approved.


In a special meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. called by Mayor Cooper, the council will review, discuss and vote on the next phase of the food cart pod design. Join us! You can find the meeting materials and meeting link on the council web page likely tomorrow.


I want to know what you think of the pod design, the project goals, and what sorts of food and amenities you’d like to see on the site. You can call or text me at 401-837-6055 or send me an email at lawtonw@ci.fairview.or.us You can also attend the meeting, or send in comments or questions to Fairview City Recorder Devree Leymaster at 503-674-6224 or leymasterd@ci.fairview.or.us


Public input is critical on such an important project. This special community gathering place will be paid for with your tax dollars and managed by your city government. Please share excitement, concerns, or questions.


Meanwhile, I titled this post "Part I." As the food cart pod design takes shape, and more decisions are made, I'll continue to keep you up to date.

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