By Kathy Eaton
with photos by Judy Nelson
See our Facebook album with more of Judy Nelson’s Lloyd District photos here.
Part of the Lloyd District sits within the Holladay Park subdivision platted in 1871, named for Ben Holladay, a wealthy businessman who moved to Portland in 1868. Holladay secured the land grant by Act of Congress when he backed a company that successfully completed a 20-mile railroad track on the eastside. Holladay ultimately defaulted on loans, his empire collapsed, and he died at 68 in 1887.
Ralph B. Lloyd, for whom the Lloyd Center is named, was born in 1875 in Missouri, the son of a Confederate Army officer who moved to California after the war. Ralph Lloyd reportedly first traveled to the Northwest between 1905 and 1907 and in 1908, bought a quarter block at the intersection of Multnomah Street and Union Avenue for $12,000. Lloyd returned to California in 1911, making his fortune in the oil business. He acquired subsequent Portland parcels in 1926 around the undeveloped Holladay’s Addition and, at one point, lived at 3175 N.E. Multnomah Ave., with a view of where the Lloyd Center would eventually be built.
Lloyd Boulevard winds along the bluff above Sullivan’s Gulch and was named by city ordinance in 1930. The Great Depression and World War II interrupted Lloyd’s development plans. He died in 1953, at age 78, leaving four descendants to carry out his plans to develop the Lloyd Center.
In 1960, Lloyd Corporation opened the Lloyd Center which spurred rapid development on Portland’s eastside, including the Rose Quarter which today houses the Moda Center, an inside multi-purpose event center formerly known as the Rose Garden (1995), Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum (1960), and the Oregon Convention Center (1990). The Banfield Expressway (known today as I-84) and the eastside MAX line completed in 1986, ensured Portlanders easy access to the district.
In 2013, Cypress Equities, a Dallas-based investment and management company, bought Lloyd Center from intervening owners Glimcher Realty Trust. Cypress chief investment officer Todd Minnis said they’re dedicated to a redevelopment plan to reconnect the shopping center with the community it serves. They’re planning a new gateway entrance on Northeast Multnomah Street that will open the center to pedestrian traffic, and implement plans to modernize the interior and exterior of the center. “This property is an iconic symbol of the district, and restoring its famed relevance in the Portland community is of the utmost importance,” said Minnis by email.
According to the 2010 Federal Census, Lloyd District had 1,100 residents. In 2013, American Assets Trust (AAT) based in San Diego, bought the superblock site bounded by Northeast Multnomah Street, 9th Avenue, a MAX line and 7th Avenue. AAT is upgrading the existing Lloyd 700 building and plans to build three new mixed-use buildings, ultimately adding 1,700 residential units to the Lloyd District.
Lloyd District Community Association
The Lloyd District Community Association is one of a few Portland neighborhood organizations serving both business and residential interests. Bill Ruff, who founded LRS Architects in the late 1970s, served as LDCA chair because many of the firm’s clients were developing projects in Lloyd District and he believed it was important to stay connected to the neighborhood. “There was a desperate need for housing in Lloyd District,” said Ruff and there’s still an imbalance in the proportion of residents to people who work there. LDCA’s current co-chair, Michael Jones, also of LRS Architects, said city planners are projecting population growth in Lloyd District will reach 5,000 in the next three years. An estimated 25,000 people drive to or take transit to work in Lloyd District. Public safety is still a concern, however, Jones believes Lloyd District receives undue negative press every time an incident occurs, citing comparisons with similar occurrences at other major malls in the Portland area that don’t receive the same negative attention.
Government footprints in Lloyd
Metro, a regional government complex located inside the Lloyd District at 600 N.E. Grand Ave., oversees the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Convention Center, Portland Expo Center and Portland’s Centers for the Arts. The agency manages growth to protect farms, forests and historic neighborhoods as well as ensuring access to good jobs, housing and transportation options through long-range planning and investments. Lloyd District is also home to the Bonneville Power Administration, created by Congress in 1937 to market Bonneville Dam’s power over a few hundred transmission lines. Regional expansion and growing demand for electrical power during WWII resulted in an increased workforce and need for more office space. Initially located in the Failing building, 618 S.W. 5th Ave., BPA ultimately established offices in the Lloyd District.
Lack of available lease space in the downtown core and the need for some federal agencies to vacate unsuitable space they occupied in the Swan Island industrial area drove developers to build offices in Northeast Portland. In 1952, the Lloyd Corporation successfully bid on a project to construct an office building for BPA in Lloyd District. The Lloyd Center 911 building (then 811 N.E. Oregon St.) housed BPA and other agencies from 1954 until 1986. In 1987, a new building to meet the needs of BPA’s headquarters operations opened at 905 N.E. 11th Ave.
A 1952 Oregonian article titled, “Great town for G-Girls,” profiled Portland’s female government employees who comprised about 60 percent of the total federal workforce of 8,000. BPA not only employed women, it also sought talent to produce two documentary films to positively promote river development and public power projects. At the time, in 1941, legendary folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie, then age 28, was living in California with a wife and three small children. When BPA officials contacted him about the documentary films, Guthrie jumped at the chance and moved his family to Oregon. After Guthrie’s audition where he sang a few dust bowl ballads, BPA Administrator Dr. Paul Raver offered Guthrie a 30-day temporary position as a narrator-actor for the documentary. In a month’s time, Guthrie submitted 26 songs for possible use in The Columbia, for which he was paid $266.66.
Guthrie sang three of the songs in the movie which was finally released in 1949. Decades later, in 1987, BPA audiovisual specialist Bill Murlin, located Guthrie’s lyrics and recordings, resulting in production of the Columbia River Collection record album and songbook, Roll on Columbia. For more information: Visit bpa.gov/news/Library/Pages.
“I still remember my first visit to Caloraga, 15 years ago, on a beautiful August evening, around sunset,” said Ed Kemp. “Today I love the views from our kitchen window, where I can see Mt. St. Helens while I’m drying the dishes.”
Calaroga Terrace, 1400 N.E. Second Ave., represents about 25 percent of the current Lloyd District population. Retired librarians Elaine and Ed Kemp moved into Calaroga almost 14 years ago from the Oregon Coast to enjoy the amenities of city living. They subscribe to nine different local theater companies in addition to nine classical music companies. “We love Artist Repertory Theatre, Profile Theatre, Milagro Theatre, and Portland Actor’s Conservatory,” said Elaine. “At the Friends of Chamber Music, we’re taking an inside chamber music class,” added Ed.
Since Lloyd District is a transportation hub, they gave up their car last year and use MAX, the bus, or streetcar to get around town. “Calaroga has a shopping bus to take us places, or we walk,” said Elaine.
Books and boxes of photos line the living and dining room walls of their seventeenth-floor apartment. When additional computers for residents’ use were installed in the third-floor library, the Kemps requested to open a second library on the tenth floor. The couple catalogued 3,100 books and 1,800 DVDs, and listed the offerings on a 168-page print catalog available to residents. When they’re not out and about attending theater, concerts or traveling, the Kemps are home reading and catching up, according to Elaine.
Elaine served on the LDCA board for a number of years and keeps informed about Lloyd District development as they watch construction cranes dot the landscape near Calaroga. The Kemps praised Central City Concerns’ Madrona Studios, 10 N. Weidler St., which provides affordable housing for tenants recovering from substance abuse or mental illness. They hope a similar model will apply to Miracles Central, another residential facility proposed at 1306 N.E. 2nd Ave. “It’s very sad to see homeless people in Lloyd District; we need to find ways to get them off the streets, so they can rebuild their lives,” said Elaine.
“We viewed the move to Calaroga as getting a whole new family, living in a wonderful community with many activities inside the building and close-by,” said Elaine.
Calaroga contributes to community
Pacifica Senior Living, which operates senior living communities nationwide, recently bought Calaroga, but retained the name, Calaroga Terrace. According to Stephanie Hertzog, Calaroga’s marketing director, monthly lease rentals for 11 different floor plans range from $1,600 (studio) to $4,300 (two-bedroom). Typically rent includes the cost of meals, activities and transportation for seniors who are 55 years and older. For more information: Visit pacificaseniorliving.com or call (503) 736-3642. Calaroga staff and residents serve on the LDCA board, and participate on the Lloyd District residents committee, co-chaired by Glen Tyrrell.
Tyrrell, who moved to Portland two years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, is a retired Washington State Trooper. Tyrrell studied Portland’s transit system and found ways to contribute to the community after he and his wife moved to The Merrick, 1231 N.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Tyrell volunteers for LDCA, the Red Cross, the Oregon Convention Center, Go Lloyd and Moda Center. Every Tuesday, Tyrrell works with volunteers at Caloroga who staff the Treasure Box, a place where residents can buy quality used furniture and clothing items.
Although Tyrrell acknowledged past stories about “shootings, stabbings and mayhem” in the Lloyd District, he believes that Lloyd District today is just as safe as other nearby Northeast Portland neighborhoods. “Visitors should come see for themselves,” said Tyrrell, hoping to bring his expertise in emergency management training to benefit Lloyd District residents.
Corrections from “Rose City Rhapsody” (January 2015): Golden Dragons is a coed paddling group for adults 50-years and older. Rose City Park Neighborhood Association chair Tamara DeRidder serves on two city of Portland committees: the Campus Institution Zoning Project, and the Centers and Corridors Parking Advisory Committee.