PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Parking in downtown Portland is already hard to come by, and it may get worse after a Smart Park garage — the city’s only underground parking garage — closes for several months.
The city has plans to shut down the Smart Park garage at 9th and Stark because of damaged concrete — possibly from roof leaks.
Maintenance workers worry pieces could fall both on people and parked cars.
Starting next week, the garage, which has been in the city for 40 years, will be closed for at least 4 months while engineers examine the garage and come up with a plan on how to fix it.
However, the garage closure has caused upset among regulars who park in some of the 100 spaces. The Smart Park garage is 1 of 6 city-owned parking garages in downtown Portland.
Aside from parking, the temporary closure has caused concern for organizers of the free Potluck in the Park. It’s served every Sunday in O’Bryant Square — right above the garage.
David Utzinger has spent decades making the potluck a Sunday tradition and has helped hundreds in need by doing so.
However, he’s worries what will happen to the weekly event once the garage closes because dozens of volunteers get hot water for cleanup from the garage bathroom.
The parking space is normally closed on the weekends, so volunteers also use the garage to serve meals when the weather is bad.
Utzinger said he wasn’t getting any quick answer from City Hall leaders, but when KOIN 6 News reached out, they said they’re working to help Potluck in the Park never miss a meal.
“Organizers tell us they need a bathroom and access to water,” said Dylan Rivera with PBOT. “We’re seeing if they could still use those in the garage or if we need to bring in those things.”
Asked if the city will find another spot for them, Rivera said, “We’re going to make it happen.”