A.J.'s Commentary

Posted December 3, 2005 (user submitted October 28, 2005)

Mall 205 is probably one of the more happier stories you will read on Today it is a redeveloped mall on Portland's outer east side which has fought hard and won its challenge to stay in business . Although the mall faced numerous hard times throughout its existence, its owners have put much effort and money into keeping the shopping center viable. Currently, it is classified as a communtiy shopping center.

The late 1970's and early '80's saw the completion of Interstate 205 through Multnomah County. With the new freeway coming, developers saw opurtunities to lure commuters in to shopping centers and began eyeing properties along nearby 82nd Avenue and the freeway. Before the advent of Clackamas Town Center, Mall 205 was quite likely the largest freeway-spurred development.

The original configuration and decor was quite typical of late 1970's-early 1980's design. The mall was completely enclosed, with the only outparcel being a Montgomery Wards auto center. it was rectangular in shape, with the mall's main walkway veering off to the west on the north end. I remember that the old mall was quite dark inside, lit only by the occasional fluorescent light. I think this was done to make the shops look brighter, giving shoppers more incentive to go inside.

The anchors that I can recall were Montgomery Wards and an Emporium (a now-defunct local department store chain). Another anchor spot was home to several different large stores: two large grocery stores, then a Payless Drug Store (now known as Rite-Aid). Minor stores that I remember included Musicland (predecessor to Sam Goody in Oregon), the only A&W Rootbeer restruant in a Portland mall, and a Kaybee Toys. The mall also hosted a movie theater, which was not accessible through the interior of the mall.

The mall did well through the mid '80's, despite the anchor shuffle at the north end. The owners then decided to freshen up the mall with a facelift in the early 1990's. This helped keep customers and tennants happy. Unfortuneately, Mall 205 was competing against Clackamas Town Center further south, where many of the same minor stores at Mall 205 could be found, along with many other stores. Some of the minor stores closed, leaving some empty storefronts.

When the 2000's hit, along with a recession, Mall 205 fell into dire straights. Payless Drugs had merged with Rite Aid, then pulled out of the mall. Payless had a lot of stores in the smaller Oregon malls, but Rite Aid decided to close most of these in favor of building new stand-alone stores. Montgomery Wards declared bankruptcy and closed its doors forever. Following this, Emporium went out of business, leaving the mall with no anchors at all. A few minor stores soldiered on, but until a recently completed renovation, Mall 205 was essentially a dead mall.

Luckily the owners cared about the sucess of the property, and acted fast to return the mall to vitality. With the "Big Box" craze in full swing, Mall 205 attracted typical "Category Killers" to fill renovated space in a new configuration. Unlike the conversion of nearby Eastport Plaza, most of the enclosed mall survives today, and all the new anchors have entrances into this space. Target took over the old Montgomery Wards, Home Depot almost nearly took over the central portion of the old mall, based around the old Emporium store. A 24 Hour Fitness and Bed, Bath, and Beyond have also moved in.

The new configuration with somewhat less mall space has breathed new energy into the almost-dead mall. It's not a parking lot-based typical Big Box redevelopment, instead it retains some of its previous charm. Mall 205 is a survivor, showing that with committed mall owners and the desire to keep an area economicly viable, any dead mall can be saved!

Steven Roberts's Commentary

Posted November 20, 2006 (user submitted)

I remember in the late 70's/early 80's there were waterslides inside the mall (Washington Square was another mall with the same thing).

There was a tower in the center of the mall with a stairway leading up to a lifeguard who pointed you to which tube you were supposed to go down. The tubes emptied into a pool in the center of the mall. The hydrotubes were sued out of business by a parent (I use that term in only the strictest biological sense) who's son decided to block a tube halfway down by exerting force on the sides of the tube with his hands and feet to come to a full stop, which resulted in the inevitable pile up of kids and multiple injuries.

I always thought of the hydrotubes as a unique feature, and I think it definately deserves a mention on your site.

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