Hell in the Sugarhood | Urban Living
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Hell in the Sugarhood



I've been hearing interesting stories lately of people who left Zion and moved to Portlandia, and are now running back here screaming, "Housing too expensive! Bad traffic!"

Yes, "crowded" is an understatement in P-Town, where there are more strip joints per capita than any other city in the United States—one per every 11,286 residents. Where you have a vegan strip club called Casa Diablo, and stripper karaoke at Devil's Point. Portland's also known for its food truck scene and the number of craft breweries in the city and the suburbs—seems like there's at least one on every block. There's an annual Naked Bike Ride with thousands of participants, and rentable goat herds that will eat your overgrown blackberry bushes to the core. The closest thing we have to Portland's Pearl District or the Hawthorne Boulevard area is the old vibe of Sugar House.

I lived in the Sugarhood when I went to Westminster College and I loved the quiet little burb. There was a bar called the Sugar Bowl where Wells Fargo now stands on the corner of 2100 South and 1100 East. Certain bartenders wouldn't check your ID if you were under age. There was Franhauser Jewelry (still there), and Granite Furniture Co., where we'd buy our first TVs. Gone is the Hygia Ice Rink, where we'd party in the winter. Chick-fil-A stands there now. And the tiny Tap Room bar was bulldozed. Yes, Sugar House was a homey, walkable part of the capital city.

Now folks say the traffic there is hell, and the small-town feel is gone.

The cute former "Sugar Hole" shopping area sat as a dirt lot for years after the crash of 2008. Now, it's a six-story high-rise and it's about to double in size. A giant building went up on Wilmington Avenue (senior living apartments), and now Shopko's 9-acre block is about to be turned into three more high-rises if city planners OK the site plan.

The proposed development includes a seven-story mixed-use residential building with 180 rentals, a six-story office building and other commercial space. Not to worry. Sentinal Development architects have drawn in a clock tower on Stringham Avenue to give the area some charm. As if.