By JEANIE SENIOR

This article originally appeared in the Portland Tribune on April 30, 2004.

Pioneer Courthouse Square’s best-known resident – Starbucks Coffee – is about to get a face-lift.

Plans call for adding an outside window for walk-up service, expanding the outdoor seating area and making the entrance to the coffee shop more accessible. Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co. also intends to remodel the store interior and change the dark-tinted windows to clear glass.

The Starbucks renovation, one of many ideas the Pioneer Courthouse Square board is considering for keeping Portland’s favorite gathering place vibrant year-round, is expected to go before the Portland Design Commission in 45 to 60 days.

Also on the drawing board: expanding the flower kiosk and adding a newsstand outside Powell’s Travel Store.

“What we have is a horror,” said board member Melvin “Pete” Mark of the current configuration of the Starbucks outlet. As for the flower kiosk and newsstand, he said, “If you can get that done, the whole square’s going to look different.”

Mark and the square’s other board members said this week they are reviewing a new draft report, “A Vision for a Year-Round Square” to consider ways the already popular square could work even better.

The New York-based Project for Public Spaces wrote the report after holding a series of public workshops in the city. Its suggestions include activities, additions and installations, as well as ideas for linking the 20-year-old square more closely to the downtown neighborhood.

What’s not mentioned in the document is a $10 million seasonal ice rink, first proposed for the square in early 2002. Pioneer Courthouse Square Inc. raised $4.3 million in pledges toward a 7,200-square-foot rink, which generated considerable controversy.

Opponents of the rink criticized its design, doubted the number of skaters whom supporters said it would bring downtown, and pointed out that the rink and accessory buildings would cover a large part of the square’s open area for 15 weeks a year.

The document contains short-term ideas, such as adding tables, chairs and umbrellas to the food court and encouraging vendors to offer breakfast and dinner as well as lunch. Long-term concepts include creating a new enclosed-glass newsstand on the corner that also serves as the entrance to Powell’s Travel Store. Improving the storefronts on Southwest Sixth Avenue is also mentioned.

Activities such as holiday markets could be staged in winter, the report suggests.

Other ideas include:

  • Providing seating along the square’s Southwest Sixth Avenue side, so people can take advantage of the shade trees across from Pioneer Courthouse;
  • Providing other shady areas to sit in the summer;
  • Covering the “small amphitheater” at the northeast corner of the square, so events could be staged there during the rainy season;
  • Establishing areas especially for children; and
  • Looking for ways to link the square more closely with Pioneer Courthouse and the other adjoining streets.

The draft report will be published on the Web sites of the Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau and Pioneer Courthouse Square. The board will review comments and likely adopt the plan at its July meeting.