By Jack Rubinger

While many of us drive up and down 82nd Ave., the sights and sounds are familiar – car dealerships, fast food restaurants and the occasional dispensary. Certainly the Asian influence is colorful with more Asian restaurants and shopping centers popping up.

A campaign that began 15 years to rename 82nd Ave. the Avenue of the Roses is beginning to blossom among businesses.

Mixteca, a family owned, family style Mexican restaurant at 2320 SE 82nd Ave., has reported good foot traffic. They appreciate the renovations at Portland Community College and they’re excited about the changes to the road. They’ve been at their location for a little more than a year.

There are actually three rose gardens on 82nd that were planted 15 years ago: one across the street from Izzy’s in Eastport Plaza, one at the Travelodge one block south of Holgate and one at the Burgerville on Glisan St.

A representative from Eastport Plaza, an anchor on 82nd for many years, said that changes haven’t been for the better. General Manager Raquel James said that there are a number of abandoned and vacant properties along 82nd. “I’d like to see improvements,” she said.

Nancy Chapin, from the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, said it was her group’s intention to plant a couple of new rose gardens to commemorate the 15th Anniversary since the addition of the 82nd Avenue of Roses sign caps, celebrated on November 15, 2005.

The Business Association set aside funds for the project, which will hopefully take place in the Spring, perhaps in conjunction with the 15th Annual Avenue of Roses Parade. In the original days of 82nd when the route was considered a state highway, trees were not a priority.

Residents might notice a section of the route between Powell and Division streets that has trees planted about 30 years ago by the 82nd Avenue Business Association.

Portland Community College also planted trees when they changed from a center to a campus.

An invitation is going out on the 82nd Avenue Business Association web-page soon to offer more opportunities for residents and businesses to plant trees.

There have been talks about ODOT finishing paving 82nd in the next five years, according to Chapin. She said there has been progress towards a Memo of Understanding to transfer 82nd Ave. to the City from the State. Chapin believes the City and PBOT are requiring 82nd Ave. to be paved prior to any transfer taking place.

“If they ever repave 82nd that would help a lot,” said the owner of Garry Small Saab at 1940 SE 82nd Ave.

“Our customers complain about driving into potholes, Small said. “Right now, we’re struggling with the impact of COVID-19 as people are not looking at used cars. We’re relying on our service department to keep us going. If people will catch on to calling this thoroughfare the Avenue of the Roses, that might help the bad rap the 82nd has received over the years.”

Chapin believes 82nd Ave. has gone from being the way to get around Portland to being the new center of Portland. The avenue remains the gateway to the world transportation-wise from Portland International Airport to I-205 to the South and beyond.

In the early days, businesses moved to 82nd because it was less expensive and available, according to Chapin. In the years since then, Eastport Plaza, PCC, the JADE District and other larger businesses have moved in and many great restaurants and food courts have made 82nd Ave. their home.

The JADE District has highlighted the number of Asian and international businesses and has worked diligently to support and communicate with businesses, the residents and the institutions on and near 82nd Ave.

JADE District and its partnership with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and others were significant in the development of The Orchards on 82nd and Division, a low-income housing program.

For the past several years the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association has hosted “Around the World in 82 Dishes” each October, and they hope to bring it back next year.

For more information about 82nd Avenue business and culture, visit discover82ndave.com.

Photo of drummers from a previous year’s parade by David Ashton