Today, Liberty Mutual Insurance told its Portland employees that they’ll be reporting to an office building in Lake Oswego starting next year, after vacating their current office building in the Lloyd District by the end of 2022.
That means Liberty is departing the building in inner Northeast Portland that bears the company’s name: Liberty Centre. It boasts 17 stories of bright conference rooms, private offices, a gym, on-site parking, and a sandwich bar.
Liberty currently leases over 97,000 square feet in the building—more than one-third of its total footprint. But now it’s leaving for the suburbs.
Glenn Greenberg, a spokesman for Liberty, tells WW that Liberty Centre is a casualty of remote work. The company housed 500 of its employees in Liberty Centre before the pandemic. That capacity is no longer necessary.
“We regularly assess our real estate portfolio against business and workplace needs,” Greenberg says. “Due to COVID and the ensuing transition of many employees to a permanent work-from-home or hybrid work arrangement, we are taking the opportunity to right-size our local footprint and relocate to a smaller space in Lake Oswego.”
Greenberg says 380 of Liberty’s Portland office employees now work from home exclusively. Its new office space in Lake Oswego will accommodate only 150 employees who work partly remotely.
The exit of Liberty is yet another warning sign of how the transition to remote work presents a problem for building owners and city leaders alike, who are suffering from little foot traffic and high office vacancy rates.
Last week, WW wrote about the impending foreclosure of three hotels in downtown Portland. The week before that, WW wrote about resistance from city workers to return to the office more than one day a week.
Liberty partnered with investment company Ashworth to build the behemoth Liberty Centre at 650 NE Holladay St. in 1997. The building’s estimated market value is $82 million.