It took Tal Blevins almost 20 full minutes to yank an iron sconce from this rusted, steel wall, wrenching the anchor bolt as he did, and then hoisting it like a trophy after it came loose.

“You want it?” he asked.

They’re building Machete this week, the supper club-turned-restaurant, into this LoFi space as surely as a hermit crab occupies a new, fancier shell, buttressing a burgeoning entertainment district that now includes three restaurants, a grocery store, two breweries and a greenway, but was once a prime example of downtown sprawl.

Does anyone remember what used to be there?

There’s not much for him and the team — including culinary duo Kevin Cottrell and Lydia Greene, a ringer from Pittsburgh and a thoughtful guy with a beard — to do here at the former Crafted Street Food locale. After a new floor comes down, the kitchen will be good to go. There’s some painting to be done, including a new mural, a few cosmetic flourishes and some applied minimalism. And those sconces, of course. They’ve got to go.

But the space has many advantages.

With just a couple of years residency under his belt, Blevins is fairly new in town, so I point out some of the new features of LoFi that make his location particularly fortuitous.

“See those parking spots out there?” I’m mansplaining. “They’re new. We call that a ‘road diet.’ That’s gonna slow down traffic and—.”

“I’m gonna stop you right there,” Blevins says. “Did you know I have a master’s degree in urban design?”

I did not.

“Here’s the thing,” I say. “This little stretch where Eugene meets Battleground is supposed to be an express downtown loop, drawing traffic out of center city to the west and north.”

Now, I say, with the Greenway apartment complex, the ballpark and two more residential developments in the works just a block to the west, they are forced to convert the whole stretch into a pedestrian thoroughfare.

This is a joke only an urban planner can appreciate. Blevins obliges with a laugh. The he’s back at it, with the hammering and the yanking and the moving of heavy restaurant equipment. These neighborhoods don’t activate themselves.

Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.

We believe that reporting can save the world.

The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.

All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.

⚡ Join The Society ⚡