What's Behind the Explosive Growth in the PDX Eastside Industrial District?
Over the years, Portland’s Eastside Industrial District has seen some massive changes. Many local businesses have persevered through the decades, while others have moved on or just plain gone under. Meanwhile, a neighborhood rich with opportunity, deeply embodying the entrepreneurial spirit of the city, has grown up on the east side of the Willamette.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the new kids on the block, the neighborhood’s growing tech scene, and a who’s who of those that have weathered the changes.
The Growing Tech Scene
Maybe it’s the proximity to OMSI, though that seems doubtful. Maybe it’s just the lower rents within easy access of downtown. Whatever it is, the central Eastside has experienced a bit of a tech boom over the last few years, as several of the warehouse buildings in the neighborhood have been converted into artists studios and small offices from tech startups.
As the Oregonian reported last November regarding the relocation of online banking company Simple, the move from the Pearl and other expensive areas downtown to the somewhat undeveloped Eastside just makes sense, as the area continues to improve.
Holdouts From the Old Guard
The central Eastside Industrial District has seen its share of businesses come and go, while some of the old guard have remained and grown into themselves as the neighborhood has come along around them.
City Liquidators has stuck it out through multiple decades of change, selling furniture remainders and other eclectic items like used carpet from the PDX airport (yes, they still have some). For more than 40 amazing years, they've been a mainstay in the inner SE Industrial District, offering tons of great new furniture, home decor items, office products and more, with brand new (in the box) and used goods, too. Produce Row Café has stuck it out through forty years of change on the Eastside and still serves up great bar food alongside the best in local craft beers.
And while technically not a business, the skate park under the east end of the Burnside Bridge deserves special mention as one of the region’s oldest skate parks, and a landmark for both tourists and locals alike.
The Best of the New Guard
Calling Hair of the Dog Brewing a “newcomer” really only speaks to the longevity of the neighborhood’s old guard. Brewing cask- and bottle-conditioned Belgian style ales near the east end of the Morrison Bridge since the mid-nineties, they have an atmosphere that only pales by comparison to their beers and menu options.
Legit newcomer Olympia Provisions, housed in a building just south of Stark in Portland’s inner Eastside, is not only a great restaurant, but it is also the salumeria (salami maker) that provides much of the city’s charcuterie regardless of where it is being served.
Last on our incomplete list of rising stars in the inner Southeast, Bunk Bar, the biggest of Bunk’s outposts throughout the city, hosts live music on the weekends, and serves some fantastic sandwiches (as you’d expect) and great drinks the whole week long.
Other standouts in the home decor department include, City Home Portland, which spans multiple warehouse-size spaces and offers relatively affordable vintage, re-purposed and in many cases, brand new furnishings and decor for the home; and Cargo, which imports many of its wares (decorative objects, gift items, and furniture) from India. A great place to shop for trinkets, birthday gifts, and more!
The Rising Sun Shines on Portland’s Eastside
Long undervalued because of its proximity to Interstate 5 and for the rundown nature of many of its buildings, the renaissance of Portland’s Eastside is well underway. And while many of the neighborhood’s long-standing businesses are adapting and thriving in the new environment that’s been growing up around them, the area has also become known as a hotbed of innovation in both food and drink, and tech.