House of Blues Entertainment Coming to Lloyd Center

Lloyd Center was referenced in a recent article about House of Blues Entertainment coming to Portland.

The former Nordstrom space in the Lloyd Center may soon be home to a music venue as the aging mall works to reposition itself.

House of Blues Entertainment, a subsidiary of ticket-seller Live Nation, has applied for a liquor license at the site, as first reported by Willamette Week.

According to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission application, the company plans to open a 44,000-square-foot venue dubbed “Rose City Music Hall.”

The venue would operate from 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. and offer dancing, karaoke, live music, recorded music and DJs, as well as lectures and comedy shows.

Live Nation owns, operates or has exclusive booking rights for 167 venues world, according to its annual report. It claims to be the largest live entertainment company in the world, and in 2015 sold tickets to 63 million people for more than 25,500 events.

Live Nation and the mall owners released a short statement confirming the plans for the music venue, which they said is tentatively slated to open early 2020, “pending the necessary approvals.” They declined to comment further.

The Lloyd Center liquor license application comes as mall owners throughout the country are filling the spaces left by struggling department stores with non-traditional tenants like gyms, pubs and health clinics.

In a July interview, Ron Friedman, a partner at Marcum LLP, which follows consumer trends, said malls need to pivot if they want to survive.

To remain relevant in the age of online shopping, he said, malls must completely change their mission, serving not as hubs for shopping, but for entertainment.

Blame millennials, Friedman said.

“They want to go out and have a nice dinner, go to a theater, or a bar and a club,” he said. “The last thing they want to do is go into a Macy’s.”

As Portland’s oldest mall continues its $50 million renovation, its future hinges on its ability to cater to new types of shoppers.

The Lloyd Center application says the space will be fully remodeled and built out to accommodate the music hall.

The Nordstrom space comprises three floors, each floor plate coming in around 50,000 square feet.

Steven Neville, the mall’s retail real estate broker, said the concert venue will occupy the top floor. He said he’s pursuing food-related concepts, including a food hall or a grocery store, for the ground floor.

The ground floor will also be home to standalone restaurants, “a significant percentage” of which will be local, Neville said. The second floor will likely go to two traditional retailers, he said.

What began as a $50 million, 18-month renovation for the eastside shopping center has morphed into a five-year project worth more than $100 million.

With an updated mall and new apartment buildings offering amenities like rooftop beer gardens, micro-restaurants and makerspaces, the Lloyd District is going to look a lot different in five years.

So far, the renovations include new interiors, a reshaped ice rink and an updated Macy’s entrance, complete with a flashy spiral staircase.

In addition to the changes to the former Nordstrom space, the mall’s east end, currently occupied by Sears, will house a 14-screen movie theater.

The mall’s traffic is already picking up, he said.

“Sales are up in the mall,” he said. “We are seeing benefits from our costs. [The tenants] are doing better than they were last year.”

Lloyd Center’s overhaul comes as the surrounding blocks undergo radical redevelopment. Hassalo on Eighth added 657 apartments to the district, and the Oregon Square and 1400 N.E. Multnomah developments will bring hundreds of offices and apartments to the area.

Neville is hoping the Lloyd Center serves as a sort of town center for all the residents and workers nearby.

“It’s going to be really fun and interesting,” he said.

— Anna Marum

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