The North East corner of West Burnside and 10th has been closed off for a while as Powells Books completed a number of construction projects. In addition to 10th street entrance, the Blue and Green rooms have been closed for renovations. I saw the projects had finished this summer and was relived — a scenario where someone at Powells said “we’re not losing any money with those rooms closed, let’s turn them into condos” had crossed my mind.
The old boxed in bike racks are gone, and the main entrance is now all steps, including a new handicap accessible door. The new wide open entrance also makes it easier to dodge the clipboard kids gathering signatures, addresses and money on the steps.
Inside the Powell’s atheistic still reigns — there’s a new lighting system and some new book tables in the Green Room, but it’s still that same linoleum floor. In a sign of the times, it looks like the magazines will not return to the main room (
mainstream magazines are in the raised portion of the Pink room, zines/small press in the Blue room There’s still a small press section in the green room, but zines are still with the Magazines). The cash registers are shifted to a more central location in the room, and the small foreign currency exchange sign is nowhere to been seen.
The other big change is the passage from the Green room to the Blue room has been significantly widened, and is no longer a “ramp going up”.
I’m always a little bummed when a place goes away, but all in all it doesn’t seem like Powell’s is radically redesigning to fit some temporary fad in Portland design circles, or making plans to sell off the building piecemeal to cash-in on the booming speculative real estate market. That’s a small relief in a changing city.