Tabor Commons Project Update as of December 2016
December 5th, the SE Uplift Board approved a motion to postpone pursuit of a long-term solution for this property and secure a temporary tenant at Tabor Commons for 24 months. This decision came after the Board deliberated over the community input received throughout October and considered other important factors such as an organizational leadership change occurring in 2017. SE Uplift Board members are taking their commitment to the community – to preserve this property as a community resource – very seriously. SE Uplift wants to make a well-informed decision and recognizes additional expertise, resources, and time is needed to do so. We appreciate the community’s input and interest in this property and look forward to continuing this conversation in 2018 where the SE Uplift Board will continue to explore the three options shared with the community 1) Use site as is, 2) Redevelop the site, 3) Sell the property.
Until a long-term decision is made, a temporary tenant will occupy the space. More information to come on the process and criteria by which SE Uplift will solicit and select the temporary tenant.
What’s next for Tabor Commons?
Tabor Commons is located at 5633 SE Division Street. The community gained ownership of this former drug crime property after a three-year effort lead by the Mount Tabor and South Tabor Neighborhood Associations and the Atkinson Elementary School PTA. In 2006, these community organizations asked Southeast Uplift to take formal ownership of the property on behalf of the community partners. From 2006 to 2010, these community organizations partnered with Café au Play and hundreds of community volunteers to redevelop the property. From 2010 to 2015, Café au Play operated a family-friendly community coffee shop on the property. Café au Play hosted many community events, discussion groups, kid-focused entertainment, and a barista training program for high school students. In early 2016 Café au Play closed its doors. While this chapter has ended, the SE Uplift Board is excited to work with the community to explore a new use for this property that aligns with the wishes of the community and SE Uplift’s mission and values
Opportunities to weigh in.
SE Uplift will provide a number of opportunities for community members, the original community partners and other community organizations, business owners, and others to share their thoughts about the future goals, use, and function of Tabor Commons. The SE Uplift Board recognizes that this property was acquired and developed by community members and looks forward to receiving and considering community input in making a decision on the future use of the property.
Weigh in on the future of Tabor Commons October 27th
When: Thursday, October 27th from 7-8:30pm
Where: TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont St, Dining Room
Why: Learn about the history of this site (located on the corner of SE Division & 57th Avenue), and provide SE Uplift’s Board with input on what you think the future goals, use, and function of Tabor Commons should be.
Not able to attend the Meeting? The online survey will remain open until December 15th 2016. Take this online survey
The other part to all of this is how important it is to step up and do your part. Cafe au Play was not created by one person, it was created by thousands of people. We all need to do our part so places like Cafe au Play have the opportunity to thrive. As we go through the visioning process again for Tabor Commons, a new idea will develop and a new place will exist. Let’s continue to work together to make sure this new place has the heart of Cafe au Play in it – building connections and offering opportunities to anyone that wants to get involved.
~Kristin Heying, Cafe au Play Founder & Director
SE Uplift’s Role in the Process.
SE Uplift is the current owner of the property. However, SE Uplift knows this site would not be where it is today without the hard work and generosity of many individual community members, Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association, South Tabor Neighborhood Association, the Atkinson Elementary School PTA, Café au Play, local businesses, public agencies, and many others. The SE Uplift Board will decide the future of this property after considering input from the community and key stakeholders, c key feasibility factors, and SE Uplift’s mission and values. The SE Uplift Board will develop a “request for proposals” (RFP) that will describe the goals, criteria, and minimum requirements the board will use to evaluate proposals for the future use of the property.
SE Uplift staff and volunteers will assess the current condition of the property, potential costs of holding and operating the site, the current assessed and market value of the property, different redevelopment opportunities, and more. SE Uplift will use this information to establish minimum requirements for any proposals for future use of the site.
SE Uplift Mission
To assist the citizens and neighborhood associations of Southeast Portland* to create communities that are livable, socially diverse, safe and vital. Southeast Uplift provides an organizational structure and forum to empower citizens to effectively resolve issues of livability and community development. See values here.
Please note, the project timeline has been postponed to 2018, see project update at beginning of page.
The idea of acquiring and turning the Tabor Commons property into a community gathering space first was proposed by Atkinson Elementary Principal John Withers in the 1990s. The property had been a gas station, mini-mart, used car lot, and then a small coffee shop. Since the 1980s, community members had been concerned about criminal activity at the site. In 2003, U.S. Marshals and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit arrested the property owner for selling pseudoephedrine to local meth labs. The MTNA immediately contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office and began the long process to get community ownership of the property. Read more here.
Past Community Outreach
When community members originally acquired the Tabor Commons property, they participated in a broad visioning process to guide the future use of the property. Their overarching goal was that the property and its uses benefit the community. They identified three priority functions for the property (see below). These original functions may still ring true today, we look forward to hearing from you via our online survey or at the October 27th Community meeting.
- Community: Create a community center/gathering place that becomes a setting for people to meet and build a stronger sense of community identify and purpose.
- Meeting/Activity Space: Provide the infrastructure for community-building activities by making available activity space and meeting rooms.
- Environmental/People-focused design: Showcase innovative environmental design features on a small site, including storm water management and “green” building techniques. Designed for people not cars.
The story of Cafe au Play/Tabor Commons Partnership
In an effort led by Kristin Heying, Cafe au Play Founder & Director, the first Cafe au Play organizational meeting was held in December, 2004. After much planning, preparation and community outreach, Cafe au Play completed a six-month pilot program called “On the Road with Cafe au Play” in 2006 which it partnered with family resource providers and performers to offer patrons a taste of the Cafe au Play experience at six local coffeehouses. The response was tremendous, and it served as a catalyst to engage community involvement and solicit financial support. Two years later, Cafe au Play was an organization with a strong foundation and a great deal of momentum. Through a dozen formal fundraisers and participation in countless neighborhood events, it had raised over $24,000 in donations from local families and businesses.
In June 2006, US Marshals transferred the property to the SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition on behalf of the Tabor Commons organizers (Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association, South Tabor Neighborhood Association and Atkinson PTA). It took three years of hard work by community members and federal, county and local government representatives to obtain the property. In addition to negotiating federal, state and local regulations and paperwork, community members raised nearly $50,000 to cover the costs of acquiring the property. After raising the funds to turn it into a community-owned site, Cafe au Play and Tabor Commons worked together for four years to renovate the site and building into a unique community center coffeehouse.
Cafe au Play operated as a partner of Tabor Commons and as their tenant within the building for nearly 6 years. This project is a fine example of how community members and organizations can work together to affect positive change within their neighborhoods. In 2015 Cafe au Play shut its doors for a number of reasons, primarily that the model was not financially sustainable. It’s time to move onto the next chapter of this property’s story. For more information about Cafe au Play go here.
Tabor Commons is located on the northeast corner of SE 57th and Division across from Atkinson Elementary School.
- Ownership – SE Uplift
- Property size – 0.21 acres (9,360 sq ft)
- Current base zone – Storefront Commercial (CS)
- Allowable uses – variety of commercial, residential, institutional, and industrial uses. For details on uses allowed in the CS zone, go here.
- Existing building – it is approximately 1003 Square Feet, equip with some kitchen equipment, needs some repairs
- Past uses – gas station, used car dealership, convenience store, deli, coffee shop
- Other – see more information about this property on Portlandmaps.
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Additional project questions or comments?
Email Leah Fisher @ Leahf@seuplift.org