A rendering of the Lloyd Center's new cinema megaplex

Unless you do all your shopping online, there’s a good chance you’ve already noticed the major changes going on at Lloyd Center. So far, renovations at the 58-year-old inner-east-side retail staple have overhauled the indoor ice rink, remodeled the food court, and added that shiny, futuristic spiral staircase.

But the biggest developments are still to come: in the works are a new 14-theater Regal Cinemas, additional retail and restaurants, and a 4,000-seat music venue—speculated to be Portland’s first House of Blues. Dallas-based EB Arrow, Lloyd Center’s current owner, is the developer behind the project.

“Shopping is still important,” says Bob Dye, the mall’s general manager, “just not as important as it was 20 years ago. Entertainment and food are the drivers in this industry.”

An apt symbol of the changes Dye’s talking about, the new cinema will take the place of the former Sears, on the east end of the mall. It’s set to be a “prototype, state-of-the-art facility,” according to Dye, including the sorts of reclining seats you can find at other next-gen local movie houses.

The west end of the mall—former home to Nordstrom—will fill all three floors with new developments. The top floor will house the new music venue, listed on its OLCC license application as “HOB Rose City MH Corp.” (“We’re not talking B-roll, casino-level entertainment. It will be all the major names,” says Dye, “artists who might otherwise be going to the Keller or the Schnitz.”) The exact business that will occupy the second floor of the old Nordstrom is still unannounced, but Dye says we can expect something along the lines of arcade-bar chain Dave and Buster’s. The ground floor will house large, full-service restaurants, with only a smattering of retail.   

Ambitious, yes. Meanwhile, the former dead zone around the mall is riding a development boom. The current Regal Cinemas across NE Multnomah Street will be replaced by a “Superblock”—a 1,200-plus-unit apartment complex. In total, Lloyd (the neighborhood association is dropping the “District”) will see about 2,500 new apartment units, not to mention the roughly 25,000 workers who commute to the area. Foot traffic, they say, won’t be a problem.

“In two to five years, I think Lloyd Center will be the dominant retail and lifestyle center in the Portland metro area,” enthuses Dye. “I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to touch us. You’ll be able to walk across the street from your apartment into Lloyd Center.”

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