Thursday, November 27, 2014

Eastport Plaza Opens 1960

Eastport Plaza was a shopping located in Portland, Oregon on SE 82nd Avenue and Holgate Street.
The property was initially earmarked for a baseball stadium, but the ballpark never happened.  Mall construction began on October 20, 1959 and it was one of the biggest construction projects in the Pacific NW at the time and cost $5 million.  Eastport Plaza was an open air/covered mall.   It opened on October 27, 1960.  The shopping center was demolished in 1996, and a new one was built.

Address: 4300 SE 82nd Ave.
Mall Acreage:  28 acres
Year Built:  1959-1960
Mall Size:  286,000 square feet
Original Mall Length: 400 feet
35 Stores and 2500 parking spots
Cost: $5 million dollars
Owner/Developer:  Julius Fligelman, Edward Meltzer, E Phillip Lyon
Builders:  Anderson Westfall Co and Teeples & Thatcher
 Design Architect:  Robert J Mayer & Assoc, Los Angeles
Borders:  SE Cora St, Francis St, 86th Ave and 82nd Ave

The Portland Beavers: Wild Pitch in Lents

In 1945, the Portland Beavers bought the family farm from AV and Robertina Folkman. They purchased about 20 acres from the couple for $40,000. Their intent was to build a baseball stadium and lure a MLB team to the City of Portland. The new ball park would replace the dilapidated Vaughn Street Park in NW Portland. Now fast forward a decade. From 1945 to 1955, the cost of the new stadium jumped from $500,000 to over $1.5million. The Beavers could no longer afford to build it.  A business decision was made. In 1955, the 20 acre tract was sold to US National Bank who used 2 acres to build a bank, and then sold the remaining 18 acres to a San Franciso investment firm, Fligelman and Meltzer. It was Fligelman and Meltzer who had the vision of turning the parcel of land into what would become Eastport Plaza.

Portland would have one more chance at major league baseball in 1964 (See The Delta Dome).

Pictured below is a example of what could have been:
Eastport Stadium aka Lent's Ballpark

The mall had elegant landscaping with special flowers and plants in year round beds.  Eastport Plaza was a covered mall, but was open air in design.  The roof had grids with slats that provided cover from the rain, but rain could fall inside the mall.  There was no climate control in the mall and was "outside temperature".  I have read that this mall was a true covered mall but this was not the case when it was first built.  JJ Newberry had an old fashioned soda fountain with a long curved counter and stools.  Newberry's and JC Penny's had a downstairs dept also.  Lipman's was a 2 story with an upper floor.  Lipman's had a huge sign on SE Powell and 96th Ave. 

Carillon Bells were played from 9am (mall opening) until closing and could be heard ringing thru the entire mall.  This was because speakers were mounted above on the plaza sign.  Throughout the day, shoppers would hear music, weather forecasts and the chiming of bells.  This carillion was located in the Equitable Savings and Loan near the main entrance.

Pictured below are workers installing the carillon bell speakers on top of the sign.

Mall Stories

E Phillip Lyon said:  "I took a private plane over east Portland and saw a ball field on 82nd and Holgate, it looked like a good place to build a shopping mall."

 Jeff said:  "I have good memories of Eastport Plaza.  I remember shopping there when I was young and on a crisp day walking thru the mall and hearing the carillon bells chiming.  The shops were nice.  I would get something at the JJ Newberry soda fountain.  My Mom loved Lipman's.  I remember the huge Lipman's sign on 96th and Powell.  My sister worked at Lerner's and Jean Machine later on."

When Eastport Plaza opened in 1960,  the following stores were new tenants in the mall:

JC Penny
Lipman and Wolfe
Fabric House
Lerner Shop
Pay 'n Save Drug
Leed's Shoes
Gallenkamp Shoes
Nordstrom Shoes
Tradewell Food Store
Beaute Chatean
Columbia Optical
Comar's International Shoes
Equitable Savings and Loan
WP Fuller
Granning and Treece
Hy Tone Cleaners
Karmel Korn
Mode O' Day
S&H Green Stamps
Turner Insurance
US National Bank
Plaza Restaurant 
Toy World
Mario Bisio Men's Wear
Beauty Shop
Turner Insurance
Hol N One Donuts
Sleep Shop

In 1958, a study found 168,000 people lived within a 3.5 mile radius of the mall.

The Eastport Plaza history can be divided into 3 separate phases:
Phase 1:  Original Mall (1960 thru 1978)
Phase 2:  The addition of GI Joe's (1979-1995)
Phase 3: Mall torn down and rebuilt (1996-current)

Eastport Plaza Time Line

1945  Portland Beavers buy tract for $40,000
1946  Portland Beavers announce 25,000 seat stadium at future Eastport site
1950  Beavers have put $80,000 into property but haven't broken ground yet
1952  Beaver stadium cost estimated $1.5mil and deemed cost prohibitive 
1955  Beaver's sell land to US National Bank
1955  USNB sells land to Fligelman and Meltzer
1956  US National Bank builds Eastport Plaza branch bank 
1957  Eastport Plaza plan is made public
1959  Construction begins on Eastport Plaza
1960  Eastport Plaza opens to the public
1979  Mervyn's replaces Lipman's 
1979  GI Joe's adds building to north side of mall
1981  Tower Records replaces Pay n Save
1982  The Hydro Tube water slide is added to the mall
1986  Mervyn's, JC Penny and Albertson's leave mall to relocate 
1996  Mall demolished


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  2. My grandfather was the manager of Eastport Plaza, most of my childhood. I can remember spending a lot of summer Fridays at the mall in the arcade or riding the hydrotubes. I came across your blog from a friend sharing the one you wrote about Tanasbourne. I grew up just off of 185th so I spent a lot of time in that mall too. Thank you for writing these, brought back many good memories!