The Vie de Bohème art space and wine bar announced this week in its newsletter it will close for good at the end of August. It opened five years ago at 1530 SE 7th Ave., near SE Hawthorne Boulevard, and became a popular hangout for the local arts community, featuring live jazz, salsa nights, poetry readings, and more. But despite its following, Vie de Bohéme now faces challenges it can't overcome.
"Last week, we received a letter from our landlord's attorney terminating our current lease arrangement, and giving us until the end of September to vacate," writes owner Leni Ortenburger. "The City of Portland has decided to come down hard on certain code issues related to our building, and though we were willing to bear a considerable burden of expense for the upgrades, our landlord is not willing to pay for the other improvements required that would allow us to stay. In addition, we were informed that any new lease signed would mean a near doubling of our rent. There is no way that we could absorb that kind of increase."
Speaking with WWeek, Ortenburger said Vie de Bohéme's building is actually zoned as an industrial space rather than commercial and that she wasn't aware of this fact until after being in business for three years. At that time, she says she received a visit from The Portland Fire Department, but the zoning issue wasn't pressed. Now it is, and rezoning would require expensive upgrades, including a sprinkler system, Ortenburger says Vie de Bohéme can't absorb.
Until August 31, you can still swing by and catch a show. Upcoming performances include tonight's Mountain Writers' Readings, featuring local poets and authors, and a performance by the Ken Derouchie Band for just 10 bucks.
In parting, Ortenburger writes, "We are now seeing this all over Portland, with live music venues steadily disappearing, along with many other small businesses and the once affordable housing that gave this City its uniqueness and character. Unless the citizenry becomes more involved and vocal about the decisions being made and the direction things are headed, the Portland that we loved, the Portland of livable neighborhoods and entrepreneurial risk-taking, will be a distant memory."