Proposed changes to Lloyd Center Mall entrance will face protected bike lane

Posted by on November 11th, 2014 at 9:24 am

Plans for the new south-facing mall entrance also include a row of sidewalk-facing storefronts and 34 covered bike parking spaces just inside the garage.
(Images: Waterleaf Architecture via City of Portland. Click to enlarge.)

After decades of keeping its shops (and Portland’s most famous skating rink) behind the bars of its parking garage, the Lloyd Center is planning a change.

As we reported last winter, the new owners of the mall have planned a new “grand entrance” that will slice away part of the rarely crowded garage in order to welcome foot and bike traffic from Multnomah Street, Holladay Park and the Lloyd Center MAX station.

The city published the first detailed architectural renderings last week, part of preparations for a public hearing about the new design.

According to the documents, the new mall entrance would create a 10,825-square-foot plaza with stormwater and landscape planters, outdoor seating areas and a “green wall” screening the garage with covered bike parking just behind it.

A wider view of the new south-facing mall entrance shows that the garage will still dominate the streetscape west of Holladay Park, but get a new sign.

An overhead schematic of the plans. (North is to the right.) Click to enlarge, or see the full city document.

The mall also hopes to build a row of several aluminum storefronts stretching to the east of the entrance, turning the mostly dead row of pillars that currently faces Multnomah into sidewalk-facing retail.

Southeast of the mall, looking west toward Macy’s.

The remodel is a change of course for Portland’s largest shopping mall, which was purchased for $148 million in June 2013 by Dallas-based Cypress Equities. A few months later, Nordstrom announced that it would close its anchor store. Malls are struggling across the country amid retail competition from Amazon and other discounters.

In that environment, Cypress’ investment in the Multnomah entrance seems to be a vote of confidence in the mall itself and in Multnomah Street, which was redesigned in 2012 to include protected bike lanes. Local property owners supported the redesign, saying it would calm auto traffic, make the street more pleasant to spend time on and lead to street retail development.

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Last January, former city Transportation Director Tom Miller, who helped strike the deal to change Multnomah, said he believed redeveloping the area’s many surface parking lots could create “one of America’s truly great streets.”

The mall’s southern entrance today. This area would eventually become storefronts under the phased plan.

In a tour of the nearby Hassalo on Eighth retail/apartment development on Monday, American Assets Trust CEO John Chamberlain cited the mall remodel as one of several reasons he was willing to bet on the rising appeal of the Lloyd District as a residential and street retail hub.

The rapidly advancing plans for the area are not unlike the “second downtown” that California oil millionaire Ralph Lloyd envisioned in 1923 when he bought the huge tracts of land north of Sullivan’s Gulch.

After Lloyd failed (despite extensive lobbying) to convince governments to kickstart his vision by moving their offices to his property, he and his children had decided to develop the biggest slice of their property as an innovative new use of urban real estate in the 1950s: a shopping mall.

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31 Comments
  • Avatar
    Alan 1.0 November 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Amusing how the renderings give cars color and detail, while people are just ghostly outlines.

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    Eric November 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

    And there are no bikes….

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson November 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Another welcome step in undoing the disastrous urban architecture of the 60’s…malls, parking structures, blank walls, office towers surrounded by surface parking, etc. Who was that French guy who inspired all that crap?
    Lloyd Center began this process some years ago with a redo of the north entrance connecting the mall to the Broadway/Weidler corridor; it also was a key partner in funding the rebuild of those two streets between NE 10th and 16th. That project, now 20 years old, reduced Broadway to 3 lanes from four, added the bike lane, widened sidewalks and added some traffic lights and curb extensions. Its still a race course!
    Now we need to make Broadway friendly to all modes with two lanes each way from the Bridge to Hollywood…no more speedway design, adding better bike facilities on the right and Streetcar on the left.

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      Adam H. November 11, 2014 at 11:37 am

      That French guy was Le Corbusier.

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      Sho November 12, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      It was actually Victor Gruen from Austria and his intent was never to have substantial surface parking surrounding the mall. It was intended to make areas more dense in suburban locations where you could easily walk throughout, the surrounding parking lots today were intended to be apartment buildings, schools, houses, etc. Essentially the mall would have been a hub for the community similar to an esplanade of shops in european countries. The parking lots came due to many larger retailers moving in destroying the intent of the building, then duplicating the error throughout the country because it was big box driven instead of architect or community. Also the parking surrounding Lloyd Center is nothing compared to many just about any other shopping mall. Moving away from the surrounding surface parking would make Gruen happy.

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    hat November 11, 2014 at 10:04 am

    This is a good step in creating a safe park and walking street. But the recently repaved parking lot for Regal Theater is still a big problem. The city needs incentives to develop street level parking lots. If there were a 5 year moratorium on parking lots over say 10 spaces within the central city, for example, much of the areas which are rarely used have the potential to create a neighborhood. Right now they’re just deserts most of the time.

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      Craig Harlow November 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      I won’t be surprised if the cinema parking lot is short-term land-banking by the owner, with longer-term development of that space reflecting the district’s current evolution into a residential/shopping neighborhood, a-la south waterfront.

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    Fred November 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Hopefully they add a better loading zone for the Stanford’s restruant. I ride this route daily and at least once a week the protected bike lane is completely blocked by delivery trucks off loading pallets.

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      Craig Harlow November 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      And the delivery trucks routinely leave discarded, flattened delivery boxes laying in the bike lane after they’ve gone (have a look today).

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    peejay November 11, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Well, since malls are, and have been for some time, a failing concept, they have to try something. The idea was that people wanted to escape the dirty city and enter an ideal world where everything is safe. This was back when everyone was in a rush to move out of cities, because of real and imagined stories of crime and noise and whatever. So, they just ended up going to suburban shopping malls anyway, so they never even had to enter the cities. The urban shopping mall, built upon denying the existence of the very place it was located in, ceased to have a purpose.

    Then, people returned to the cities, for all the obvious reasons: walkability, culture, variety. Shopping malls, cocooned inside a prison of parking garage, don’t appeal to these people. But they contain a lot of good concepts, like protected pedestrian spaces, density of destinations, etc. If they were able to reconnect with their surrounding environment, they could see a resurgence. But people are sophisticated enough to know not to be fooled by a fancy “gateway” remodel. The idea of opening up to the neighborhood is a good one, but it must be genuine. They need to stop seeing acres of parking as essential to their survival, because that parking is in fact the barrier between the retail space and the street space.

    So, good for the mall owners to recognize that they have to do something. It remains to be seen if this remodel is a sufficient first step in the process of reintegrating to city life as it exists in 21st century Portland.

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      Joseph E November 12, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Tokyo is very urban, and it has plenty of indoor shopping centers located above train stations. They rely on most people coming on foot or by train rather than having large parking lots, and many also have office buildings located in the same property.

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    Adam H. November 11, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Meh. I’d rather see the mall torn down completely and a real urban neighborhood developed in its place.

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      Adron Hall @ Transit Sleuth December 11, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      That would honestly be the best option. Build out the actual grid, throw in some towers, add another park block, and magically we’d have a vibrant, lively, huge, expansive east side Lloyd District.

      That would be amazing. But even with some of this interim stopgap to attempt saving the mall, it’s a huge improvement over the complete mess that side of the mall is. The next logical step is to start getting rid of the parking lots on the east side of the mall and either burying them or whatever and building out some apartment towers and related things… maybe even commercial towers. There is after all, growing demand for exactly that.

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    dan November 11, 2014 at 11:51 am

    This seems like a positive change. It has always struck me as very off-putting that you need to walk through the parking lot to enter the mall even if you didn’t drive there.

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    Peejay November 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    By the way, Michael, thanks for reminding me of how awesome the Mountain Goats are. That’s a great song.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu November 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    The remodeling of Lloyd Center will be a positive for the district. Anything that brings more pedestrian traffic to the street, and between the mall and the park, is good.

    Would I prefer a traditional “High street” shopping district? Definitely. But that isn’t an option in the medium term. So since we have the mall, I’d like it to be successful and vibrant. Note that the Lloyd Mall also supports the ice skating rink, which is a precious resource for Portland kids and adults alike, and likely would not have survived on its own.

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    Anne Hawley November 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    And high time, too! That strip of black-glass-nothing windows, pillars, and garage driveways has been one of the most energetically dead places in NE Portland for decades. I agree with Adam H., above, in preferring to see the mall gone altogether, but since that’s not gonna happen, this is a good step in the right direction.

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      Adam H. November 11, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, this design is definitely an improvement. It will be nice to have stores facing the sidewalk instead of dead space parking structures. I just don’t see much value in an indoor shopping mall so close to the city center. Think of how much mixed use retail/residences could fit in that footprint.

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    Carey Booth November 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    The last time I rode my bike to Lloyd Center, there were two cut bike locks left on the ground by the bike rack. I pointed this out to the security guard, and he just shrugged. I locked up with a U lock and ran in to run my one errand. I wrote a letter to the management and got no response. I also had my bike lights stolen from there another time. I hope this remodel will make it a better place to bike to.

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    Matt November 11, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    The Lloyd Mall needs to be flattened. Just the same old boring mix of cheap brand stores, fast food outlets, and bored teens that could be anywhere in sub-urban USA. Tear it down and build an open air shopping district in it’s place with a real food/grocery market as it’s focus – similar to Granville Island in Vancouver BC or Philadelphia’s Reading Market.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson November 12, 2014 at 8:25 am

    A more modest next step could be the redevelopment with retail and housing of the two parking structures between Broadway and Weidler west of Safeway and east of what used to be Holladay Market. Safeway has done a good job combining upgraded or new stores with housing (better than New Seasons!), and that is a four block long stretch that could be a great TOD project along the Streetcar extension to Hollywood.

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      Adam H. November 12, 2014 at 8:59 am

      That’s what kills me about the Lloyd Center Mall – it’s so close to transit. Perfect spot for some mixed-use low parking buildings, not some shopping mall copy/pasted from the suburbs.

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        Steve B November 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

        Well, that was the intent back then, to encourage city dwellers to take the previously free rail from downtown to the Lloyd center to get their big store shopping done, instead of commuting out to the suburbs. With the end of free transit in Portland it seems that idea has jumped the shark.

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          Adam H. November 12, 2014 at 2:38 pm

          And also the decline of the shopping mall. Plus, since then, there have been many more shops opened downtown including Pioneer Place, which fits into the urban landscape better.

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      Adam H. November 12, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Yeah, what’s up with New Seasons building huge surface parking lots adjacent to their stores?

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        maccoinnich November 12, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        To their credit, they’re getting better. The Grant Park store opens today, and three floors of residential above it. The Conway store, which opens next year, reuses an existing warehouse at NW 22nd and Raleigh, and as such is single story… but the car park that sat in front of the warehouse is being redeveloped as high density residential.

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    paikiala November 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

    What happens to the bus stop?

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson November 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Years ago I really took B. Rohter, then NS President, to task for the New Seasons on Interstate. He blamed the banks, but was dismissive of working with TriMet, PDC, Metro TOD on doing something cool with housing, etc. I am sure they will be looking hard at the Grant Park Village store where the parking is in the garage in back. It opens today. My guess is they got a hell of a deal from the developer.

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    Dave November 12, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    This is a lipstick on a pig project. Until the street level parking in the garage is removed, nothing will change.

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