SE Portland's Lents Neighborhood: What to Expect
Lents has been one of Portland’s up and coming neighborhoods for some time now. So much so, that it’s been reported on the Internet at sites like Thrillist and on the local network news. With all that coverage, it appears that one of Portland’s Eighty-Second Avenue, Eastside neighborhoods is primed to be the next big thing.
Given the unique mash-up of cultures, one-of-a-kind retail and restaurant options, and everything else that Lents has to offer, this probably won’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who already lives in Lents or Montavilla, or any of the other east of Eighty-Second Avenue neighborhoods.
For those of you coming late to the table, let’s get the definitions out of the way. Lents is a Southeast Portland neighborhood bordered on the north side by SE Powell Boulevard, in the west by SE 82nd Avenue, in the south by the Clackamas County and City of Portland boundary, and in the east by SE 112th Avenue.
Lents is due east of the Foster-Powell Neighborhood, south of Montavilla and Powellhurst, and west of Pleasant Valley. It is also one of Portland’s oldest, largest, and most diverse neighborhoods.
History: The Original Town of Lent
On a rainy day (we can safely assume) in 1892, Oliver P. Lent platted the original Town of Lent between SE 92nd and 97th Avenues, and SE Foster Road and SE Duke Street. Originally conceived of as an individual town and suburb adjacent to Portland, by 1912, Lent had grown to almost ten thousand residents and had become an annexation target for the growing city next door.
In the years that followed its annexation, however, Lents was largely left without city services and rarely benefitted from road or sewer improvements that were conducted in neighborhoods closer to downtown.
Eventually, when it came time to put in Interstate 205 on the east side of Portland, neighborhoods bordering 39th Avenue (the original proposed site for the freeway) and SE 52nd Avenue (the secondary site) succeeded in having the freeway pushed farther and farther east until it bisected the Lents neighborhood, passing through near the historic downtown area of the old Town of Lent.
Livability in Lents
Lents is already a very livable neighborhood, with future development only adding to the mix. Here’s a list of a few fun facts about Lents that make this neighborhood well worth considering when you’re ready to relocate:
- Lents has a Walkscore of 53
- The neighborhood is served by nine Trimet bus lines and the MAX Green Line, and has a Public Transportation Score of 52.
- Lents is bisected by the Interstate 205 Multi-Use Path and the Springwater Corridor Trail along Johnson Creek.
- The neighborhood’s Bike Score is 73
- Lents is served by the Portland Public School District and includes three grade schools. The neighborhood is served by two middle schools, and neighborhood students either attend Franklin or Madison high schools.
- Major shopping in Lents takes place at three major areas.
- The area near the intersection of SE Powell and SE 82nd
- The area surrounding the intersection of SE Foster and SE 82nd
- The old Lents downtown area around SE Foster and SE 92nd
- Major retailers in the neighborhood include Fred Meyer and Walmart, making living in the area quite convenient.
Standout Culture in the Lents Neighborhood
Lents has a first run movie theater in the Eastport Plaza Mall, and several bars and nightclubs in the old downtown Lents area. Other area attractions include two city-run aquatic centers in nearby neighborhoods, multiple public parks, and a fantastic eclectic dining scene.
The neighborhood has what is largely considered to be the city’s best dim sum restaurant in Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant, as well as Japanese, Mediterranean, Hawaiian, Mexican, and Central and South American dining options, as well as multiple chain restaurants and a striking abundance of Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants and stores.
The Present and Future of East Portland
These days, the Lents neighborhood is an excellent example of a neighborhood on the verge of capitalizing on several year’s worth of city planning and expenditures to create something new in one of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods.
It is an affordable neighborhood with somewhat revitalized commercial districts that are an example of the merging of the hip entrepreneurship that typifies New Portland, with the gritty working class aesthetic that many see as exemplifying Old Portland.
With farmer’s markets popping up on multiple days in the neighborhood’s parking lots, fantastic international food and shopping options either in or just outside of the neighborhood, and easy access to both light rail and freeway transportation options, Lents is primed for growth.
Housing costs in Lents are still among the most affordable in the entire city, and developers are only just starting to look at the neighborhood with something beyond skepticism. With all that in mind, Lents may be one of the last places to still grab a chunk of Old Portland before it’s all made over.
[Photo Cred: Wikimedia Commons; Past Is Present; East Portland Mall]