After saying goodbye to Vibe of Portland after nearly 3 years of tenancy, we are excited that Black and Beyond the Binary Collective (BBBC) has moved into the space. BBBC will be utilizing Tabor Commons to accomplish their mission of being “dedicated to advocacy and healing for transgenderand gender-variant Oregonians who are Black and have lived experiences as a member of the African diaspora.” SE Uplift is looking forward to building on our partnership with this vital community group. Outside of COVID-19, BBBC will host workshops and events that are open to the broader SE community as well as events specific to Black and non-binary/trans community members.
BBBC, along with a dozen other applicants, took part in a competitive selection process to become the new Tabor Commons tenant. The selection criteria was centered around our mission and the community feedback we collected in 2016 (see details below). SE Uplift also used our newly adopted equity lens to evaluate proposals based on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) work and documents approved in 2020 by our Board of Directors (available here).
Tabor Commons is located on the northeast corner of SE 57th and Division across from Atkinson Elementary School.
- Ownership – SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition
- Property size – 0.21 acres (9,360 sq ft). The large property is landscaped with native landscaping and on-site water retention technology, a shed for storage and a covered back patio.
- Allowable uses – The property is zoned Commercial Mixed Use 2 (CM2), which allows uses of retail sales and services, office space, household living, institutional uses and very limited manufacturing.
- Existing building – The “one room” building is approximately 1,005 square feet, equip with kitchen equipment, one restroom, shelving, tables and chairs (if needed).
- Rent – Up to 1,800/month. Historically, SE Uplift has rented this space at below market rate to support other organizations doing community work. We understand these are difficult financial times for many organizations and businesses, and are open to negotiating a reasonable rate dependent on the merits of the proposal.
- Other Features – The property and building are covered in custom art pieces and murals that infuse character into the space and make it a place you don’t want to leave. There is ample bike parking out front along with a spot on-site. There is a small on-site parking lot.
- Past uses – gas station, used car dealership, convenience store, deli, coffee shop, arts education studio.
- Other – see more information about this property on Portlandmap
For More History on Tabor Commons... Keep Reading
How We Got Here (2016 Community Outreach Process)
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.
SE Uplift began a community process to solicit feedback from community members, the original community partners, other community organizations, local businesses, and others about the future goals, use, and function of the site.
On October 27th 2016, SE Uplift hosted an Open House where community members learned about the history of the site and provided input on its future. Meeting Slides and Materials: Meeting Presentation; Voting Activity; Summary of survey responses.
We also produced an online survey to gather feedback.
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
What We Heard
At the time our survey closed on December 20th 2016, 208 community members participated in an online survey and 28 attended an in-person meeting to weigh in on the future of the Tabor Commons property (previously Café au Play). Both comments collected at the community meeting on October 27th, as well as survey responses indicated a significant amount of interest in this property remaining a community space open to the public, and supporting arts and cultural opportunities.
As for the future look and capacity of this site, respondents are supportive of using the site as is, or redeveloping the site to support one or more of the desired uses.
Who We Heard From
Not surprisingly, the majority of respondents live close to the site in the Mt. Tabor, South Tabor, and Richmond neighborhoods. This may, in part, be due to the majority of the print promotion (flyering, banners, etc.) taking place in the general vicinity of the property. However, notification went out to all Neighborhood Associations in the coalition area, and survey response came in from nearly every neighborhood as well as some residents outside the SE Uplift coalition area. It is also worth noting that while we heard from approximately 230 residents and business owners, there are over 151,167¹ people living in the coalition area and, therefore, the survey reflects a small portion of those voices. SE Uplift will continue to seek public input throughout the process.
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, 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.
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.