On Aug. 6, 2021, smoke filled Lloyd Center after an electrical fire in the basement triggered a power outage. Shoppers were instructed to flee, but the mall reopened a few weeks later, which didn’t surprise anyone who had been following the soap-operatic saga of Lloyd Center’s defiant refusal to meet its maker.
When it was announced late last year that KKR Real Estate Finance Trust would foreclose on Lloyd Center, it seemed like that might finally put an end to the mall and the moaning of Portlanders wondering how many more Christmases it would survive. In giddy anticipation of a complete overhaul, ideas for the future blossomed, including WW’s suggestions that a Lloyd Center skatepark or robot market might be in order.
Then a new owner, Seattle’s Urban Renaissance Group, swooped in and announced its plans for Lloyd Center—retail and workspaces. For anyone imagining a more ambitious or progressive prospect, like new affordable housing, it was a groan-worthy revelation, but there is something perversely poignant about the mall’s endurance. At least the beloved, historic ice skating rink will be saved.
For all its fumbles, Lloyd Center has the power to make Portlanders ooze nostalgia, even if they despise actually spending time there. It’s not just a mall—it’s a myth. Maybe that’s why it’s seemingly too big to fail.
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