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Business owners in Kenton neighborhood prepare to open Denver Ave Plaza

Denver Ave Plaza will be an outdoor area for dining and shopping while safely social distancing.

PORTLAND, Ore. — With the afternoon sun beating down on him, the owner of Fino's in North Portland expands his dining room into the southbound lanes of North Denver Avenue.

"We're incredibly thrilled," said Jason Riley. "We're absolutely psyched to have the extra outdoor seating."

The owner of nearby Derby will be adding seating on North Denver, as well.

"I'm probably going to be getting 20 more seats out here with the plaza dining so that'll help me tremendously pick up that flow of revenue," said Judy Stokes.

You can count Stokes among the business owners who have been struggling since the start of the pandemic. Help is on the way thanks to a Healthy Businesses permit through PBOT's Safe Streets Initiative. This allows for temporary changes to streets to give restaurants and retailers more space to conduct business safely. 

"If we don't do this, we're not going to lose just two to three businesses, we're going to lose eight to 10 businesses," said Maureen Bachmann, president of the Kenton Business Association. "We don't have a lot of businesses here so it's a really vital program for our community and neighborhood.

Credit: Mike Benner, KGW staff
A two block stretch of North Denver will be closed to vehicular traffic through the end of September.

Bachmann says a two-block stretch of North Denver will be closed for weeks. The northbound lanes will be a pedestrian walkway while the southbound lanes will be set aside for restaurant and retail owners to use as they see fit.

The owner of Figure Plant, a design and fabrication company, is helping with the design of Denver Ave Plaza.

"We're hoping to create some shade here and additional lighting and greenery," said David Fredrickson. "Just something to make this streetscape a more hospitable environment."

Neighbors and business owners alike are more than excited for what's to come.

"If any neighborhood could put something like this together, Mo with the KBA is on it," said Riley. "We feel incredibly supported in this neighborhood."

The Denver Ave Plaza should be fully operational in the next week or two. It will run through the end of September.

According to PBOT, another street plaza can be found on Southeast Clinton, between 25th and 26th. There will be a soft launch this weekend. It will officially open next weekend.

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