New activity on Allen’s Corner caught drivers’ eyes last week as a notorious empty gas station, left shuttered for years, had renovations underway.
Robert Derrey, owner of the property at 1397 Washington Avenue, hoped to put in a cannabis store when he bought it in 2020. Derrey confirmed last week that permits have been secured for construction and, after many delays, renovations for the store have begun.
The current phase of development, aiming to convert the gas station into a functioning storefront, should be done by July, Derrey said. He’s working with an architect to discuss phase two — which will start with expanding what’s on the property so the lot isn’t limited to just one store.
“I’d like to bring some cool businesses into the area — I’d like to even be able to invest in some of them if they were the right ones,” Derrey said.
It’s too early to know exactly what expansion would look like or how long it could take, he said, but he hopes to add at least two units to rent to other new businesses. In addition to the cannabis store, Derrey said he’s open to suggestions about what the property could be.
Like many North Deering residents, he wants to see more variety on Allen’s Corner, the busy four-way intersection which acts as a connector between Portland and surrounding towns. Residents there have pushed to make the North Deering area, which has historically prioritized motor vehicle travel, a more neighborhoody feel.
Anton Ascanio, a North Deering resident who grew up near the corner, is working to organize neighbors in a group called Friends of Allen’s Corner to better influence city officials to spur action there. The North Deering Neighborhood Association, a city-registered group, had been inactive for years.
With another chain appearing to be moving in across from the Northgate Plaza, adjacent to Allen’s Corner, Ascanio said he wonders why locally owned businesses aren’t coming into the fold.
“We come off looking like the city’s dumping ground for national chains,” Ascanio told the Phoenix.