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CTC unveils expansion plans

Ambitious timetable has mall ready by Christmas '07
by: image courtesy CTC, An artist's conception of the finished mall shows

After months of delays Clackamas Town Center last week showed off plans for its mammoth expansion, with work already well under way.

'All the approvals are in' spokesperson Leslie Boies said, 'and we're ready to go. It's been a longer process, but it's going to be great when we're done.'

The expansion - totaling about 325,000 square feet - will be completed in single phase, with work underway on many areas of the project at once. Already two-story-high barricades close off the old skating rink and food court area while excavation is starting on the south side near the Meier and Frank store.

Boies said it will be a modern 'lifestyle center' type project - an 'inside-out' mall design with outward-facing shops designed to emulate a downtown area.

'On the south side there will be two lifestyle villages,' she said. 'It's outdoor streetscape shopping, and it will flank Meier and Frank on both sides.

'It's attached to the building,' she said, 'so as you walk down the 'street' of shops you'll come to the end and enter into one of the main mall entrances. On the interior will be new tiles, new handrails, new vertical transportation, a new food court and new retail inside as well.'

The old skating rink - which was closed down because the aging equipment couldn't be economically upgraded to make it reliable - will be replaced by new retail space. Above will be a smaller food court and the entrance to a new 'anchor' feature, a large theater complex.

'Century Theaters will operate a 20-screen cinema complex,' she said, 'state of the art with stadium-style seating.'

Although the food court will be smaller, it will be thoroughly modernized, with 'soft' seating and a fireplace.

The 'inside-out' lifestyle center format may not seem to be a natural fit for Oregon's climate, but Boies said they expect it to work out.

'We've done extensive research,' she said, 'our shoppers said they're from Oregon, they know it rains and they're OK with that - they can walk the street of shops and then come into the center and be dry and warm.'

Work will continue simultaneously on the 'villages,' the theater and the new food court; after the holidays they will start on the interior of the mall. They hope to be finished by November 2007, in time for next year's holiday season.

Despite the heavy work schedule, Boies said they're trying to minimize the impact on the mall's customers.

'We are doing everything in our power to ease any frustration our customers may be experiencing - we're letting them know where to park, and there's signage in the mall telling them what's going on.'

At the same time, the transit center will be moved closer to I-205, where the ClackaMAX light rail line will eventually end up; there will still be a bus stop next to the mall itself, near the movie theaters.