Owners of Lloyd Center Unveil Master Plan for Mall That Restores Street Grid and Adds Housing

The ice rink stays in the picture, and the mall stays open during construction.

Lloyd Center, June 27 2021. (Wesley Lapointe)

Almost two years after the property fell into foreclosure, the owners of Lloyd Center Mall made public their plan to revitalize the 29-acre site with as many as 5,000 units of housing, restaurants, greenspaces and—if the market for office space revives—a corporate office campus.

The plan doesn’t include a Major League Baseball stadium, but it could accommodate one “should a concrete proposal emerge to bring an MLB team to Portland,” mall co-owner Urban Renaissance said in a press release.

The mall, open since the foreclosure, will remain open during the planning process, which is expected to take up to a year, and during construction, which will be done in pieces over the next decade.

The most popular feature of the mall, the ice rink, will stay in the new development, though it may move to accommodate other features, according to Urban Renaissance, the Seattle-based company that owns the mall alongside KKR Real Estate Finance Trust. KKR took possession of the property in 2021 after foreclosing on the former owner, Texas-based real estate firm EB Arrow.

“We’re going to knock stuff down,” said Tom Kilbane, managing director at Urban Renaissance. “Eventually, everything there is going to become something else. There will be an ice rink.”

Urban Renaissance applied for a “design advice request” meeting with the Portland Bureau of Development Services’ Design Commission today. A formal application for the master plan will follow.

Site diagram for the Lloyd Center redevelopment (source: ZGF/Field Operations)

The big idea behind the master plan is to open the mall up to the neighborhood around it, Kilbane said in an interview. In its present incarnation, the mall presents solid blank walls to many neighboring buildings and blocks north-south traffic from Northeast 9th to 15th avenues.

“Our goal is to reverse the inward focus,” Kilbane said.

The new design will restore much of the street grid that was obliterated by the mall. One street, 12th Avenue, will run from the north side of the mall all the way through to Holladay Park.

Urban Renaissance and KKR hired Portland architecture firm ZGF to lead the master plan. ZGF is also doing the main terminal expansion at Portland International Airport. Field Operations, the firm that designed the High Line, the wildly popular park built on an old elevated train line in Manhattan, will design the open spaces at the new Lloyd Center. About 20% of the site is designated as greenspace.

Urban Renaissance didn’t give a cost estimate for the project. The owners plan to borrow as they go to pay for construction. KKR has vowed to keep its ownership through the planning process, Kilbane said. The owners may pursue new tax increment financing, he added. TIF is used by municipalities to stimulate redevelopment by diverting future property tax revenue increases to specific projects.

City leaders are on board with the plan, Kilbane said.

“I am encouraged that the current owners envision creating an authentically Portland neighborhood that will reflect our city’s core values of inclusivity and sustainability,” City Commissioner Carmen Rubio said in a statement. “I am particularly excited about the prospect for a significant number of new housing units designed to serve a range of income levels. We sorely need this investment in housing.”

Any housing built on the property will conform to the city’s inclusionary zoning, Kilbane said.

The master plan doesn’t include a baseball stadium. Nor does it preclude one.

“We would be thrilled to see a major league team come to Portland,” Kilbane said. “We have certainly heard the rumors, including around Lloyd Center as one of the potential sites for a stadium, and our ownership group is open to dialogue with team owners, the MLB or anyone else who presents an actionable proposal.”

In June, The Oregonian reported that Mayor Ted Wheeler supported the Portland Diamond Project’s proposal to turn Lloyd Center into a stadium. The group’s founder, former Nike executive Craig Cheek, has been trying for years to bring baseball to Portland, eyeing various sites.

One attraction that’s definitely coming is “Painted Pines Park” a 45,098-square-foot educational art installation by local artist Mike Bennett, the creator of “Dinolandia,” a temporary exhibit of painted plywood dinosaurs in downtown Portland that ran until September 2022.

Bennett will stage “Painted Pines,” an exhibit inspired by U.S. national parks, in the old movie theaters on the top floor of Lloyd Mall starting early next year. It will have four areas to explore: Tall Tall Timbers, Geyser Gulch, Critter Canyon and Acrylic Alps, populated by 1,000 cartoon animals and plants made by Bennett.

An artist's rendering of the Lloyd Mall after redevelopment (source: ZGF/Field Operations)

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