Lloyd District development takes off at last

by: GBD ARCHITECTS - If you worked here youd be home now: Residential development is finally on its way to the Lloyd District. A rendering, looking east, of Hassalo on Eighth, a three building retail and apartment complex slated to open fall 2015. It feels like permanent 1974 in the Lloyd District: the blank concrete walls, the streets deserted after office hours, the city park dominated after dark by scowling youths. Even the mall looks like it needs some retail therapy.

That could change in fall 2015 when Hassalo on Eight opens behind the 16-story Lloyd 700 Building.

The crane is swinging and three different apartment buildings are emerging from the hole behind the Lloyd 700 tower, the building that houses the Mac Store on Multnomah St.

Portland’s GBD Architects has designed a LEED platinum development (600 bike racks! Waste water treatment on site!) with 660 apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail, and is just one of several new developments planned for the Lloyd District in the coming years. Features of Hassalo on Eighth include terraces, water gardens and the toniest of the three will have a spa, fitness center and amenity room on the top floor. The goal is to lure empty nesters and young professionals to the Lloyd District and catalyze some elusive livability. Although 25,000 people work there by day, only 1,100 people live in the district now, which is hemmed in by freeways and the river, most of them at the Calaroga Terrace senior living center.

The developer, American Assets Trust is a real estate investment trust based in San Diego. According to architect Kyle Anderson, a principal at GBD Architects, AAT intends to hold on to the development and make money from the rentals, rather than flip it.

He says the neighborhood does not strive to be the next Pearl District, which is typified by pricey condos, retail and high walkability scores.

“There’s an east-west snobbery in Portland. The east side is hip and edgy. We’re working with Wieden + Kennedy to brand it (the development).”

According to Anderson, if AAT meets their occupancy targets a phase two will follow at the next superblock south, known as the Oregon Square blocks. The space is currently a dreary outdoor lunch spot with one food cart and a rain shelter, and sometimes a farmers market. All the block’s buildings will be demolished to make way for more apartments, with a possible link to phase one and perhaps even a water sharing agreement. It would also include a public park.

Other developments in the Lloyd District include:

  • Apartments going up in an L shape around the Burgerville at Martin Luther King Blvd. and NE Multnomah St.
  • A remodel of the Lloyd Center by its new owners, Cypress Equities Real Estate Investment Management of Dallas, Texas. (On a recent morning, some over-dressed for Portland business people stood talking loudly about what they want to do with the entrance to the mall next to Stanford’s restaurant, including building a covered piazza.)
  • The long delayed convention center hotel.
  • The coming Hotel Eastlund, a four star remodel of the Red Lion, opening in May 2015.
  • Rick Williams is the Executive Director of Go Lloyd, a nonprofit that encourages people to use non-automobile transportation in the district, as well as business development, public safety and events.

    “In 1994 the Lloyd District felt suburban,” says Williams. “Our work is all about how to get people here more efficiently.”

    His group lobbied to get the Streetcar, and they want surface parking lots replaced by tall buildings. Thanks to Go Lloyd, workers who qualify can get a $1,200-per-year TriMet pass for just $378 per year, and Go Lloyd has designed walking routes for people to have somewhere to go on their lunch hour.

    Williams is to the Convention Center Hotel what Ron Paul is to a Portland public market: he’s been at it for decades.

    “This is all part of what we’ve been working on for 20 years,” he said.

    He is excited that Metro recently approved the development agreement for the 10-floor hotel.

    “The only thing holding it back is the political process.”

    Walker says the image of the Lloyd Center mall as a dangerous place is recent and will change. He remembers as a boy coming in from Aloha to go to the outdoor mall, and says it has name recognition all over the world.

    “The Rose Quarter should have been named ‘The Rose Quarter at Lloyd District,” he says.

    He’d like to reinstate the fun human activity of the area: Rose Court princesses being crowned and the festival floats on display just east of Holladay Park. One sign of life: the Portland International Beerfest is moving from the North Park Blocks to Holladay Park Aug. 8-10, 2014.

    “What the neighborhood really needs is a brewpub,” says Williams. “And better restaurants. And daycare. And parks.”

    Brian Griffis, a financial analyst at Point West Credit Union, is the former Lloyd District Community Association chairman. (It’s a hybrid of resident and business interests.)

    In the office of American Assets Trust, he shows off a model of the neighborhood and points AAT’s Hassalo on 8th right outside the window.

    “Businesses are starting to reinvest,” he says, “This neighborhood is on the rise.

    The biggest expectation from a residential standpoint is public safety, the perception of gang violence and vagrancy, I’ve heard that over and over.”

    Turning the Lloyd District into a lovable, lovable part of Portland may ultimately depend on more than investment dollars.

    Right now Griffis sees the Holladay Park just used as something to walk though from the MAX to the mall. He wants people to linger, and is excited it will host a National Night Out on Tuesday, August 7. “Holladay Park gets a bad rap for drug trafficking and whatnot, so this is something positive.”

    Griffis, a Hawthorne resident, says Portlanders are now just starting to notice the amenities. “It’s up to us to make sure it’s a neighborhood that’s enjoyable, not just a mini downtown.” He says people will realize that you can get anywhere you want to fast with the transportation options, but it’s cheaper than living across the river.

    “With increased residential use of this district you’ll have more 24/7 activity. We have a lot of office space. We need more residents.”

    Cypress will reveal its plans for the Lloyd Center mall at 10 a.m. on July 24 at Lloyd Center ice rink.

    Contract Publishing

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