Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: New owners to 'revitalize' Lloyd Center Mall, local officials give holiday COVID safety advice

Emily Scarvie

(Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Monday, Dec. 20 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. New owners of Lloyd Center plan to 'revitalize' the mall

After much speculation around the future of Lloyd Center Mall under new ownership, real estate company Urban Renaissance Group recently announced that it has partnered with KKR Real Estate Finance Trust Inc. to lead the “revitalization” of the mall.

The mall opened in 1960 and was the largest shopping mall in the northwest at the time. Last month, Lloyd Center’s future became unclear when KKR Real Estate Finance Trust said it was taking ownership of the mall due to long overdue payments on its loan.

Urban Renaissance Group announced Monday that it would redevelop the mall and preserve popular attractions like the ice skating rink.

“This is an amazing opportunity to invest in the heart of our city and we believe there is great potential for this uniquely situated property,” URG’s Portland Managing Director Tom Kilbane said. “We know many Oregonians have fond memories of Lloyd Center and we take seriously our responsibility for making sure it continues to be a community gathering place.”

2. Local virus expert gives advice on COVID precautions for holiday travel, gatherings

Amid an increase in travelers at Portland International Airport ahead of the holiday week, a biology professor at Portland State University is giving his advice for safe travel: COVID booster shots and rapid tests.

“The risk of travel on the plane is actually relatively low as long as we’ve got good mask usage, etc. Filtration on planes is really good,” Ken Stedman told KATU. “I would say in the waiting area when you’re lining up to get on the plane, that’s where I’m a little bit more concerned.”

According to Stedman, those planning family reunions for the holidays should still be cautious around the elderly, even if they’ve received a booster shot. He also noted that while it’s hard to compare this year to last, the risk for many people is lower now.

“I think it’s less, again, because of the vaccine and because of all the boosters,” he said. “But we also have more of the virus around so it’s going to be a balance.”

3. Fred Meyer, QFC workers back on job after reaching labor agreement

After only one day on strike, Fred Meyer and QFC workers are back on the job after reaching a settlement agreement. Workers with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 had planned to continue the strike until Christmas Eve. The union will now share the settlement with members before a ratification vote.

“The fully recommended settlement agreement includes significant wages, added workplace protections, a secure retirement and quality healthcare,” Miles Eshaia told KATU.

Following the strike, the president of Fred Meyer released a statement Saturday, saying in part, “We are so grateful to our Fred Meyer and QFC associates for everything they do for our customers and our community… We will continue to do everything we can to balance investments in wages and overall well-being while keeping food affordable for our customers.”

According to Eshaia, the ratification vote will happen within a week or two and the details of the settlement will be released after that process.

4. Rain, snow cause Big Pipe sewage system to overflow into Willamette River

On Sunday, Portland’s Big Pipe sewer system overflowed into the Willamette River, marking the fifth time an overflow has happened this year. The overflow occurred due to a mix of heavy rain and snow, causing the system to reach capacity. When this occurs, the public is advised to avoid contact with the river for at least 48 hours due to increased bacteria.

The Big Pipe system was completed in 2011 and was created in an effort to decrease the number of combined sewer overflows that occur each year. According to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, the Big Pipe has dropped CSOs by 94% in the Willamette River and 99% in the Columbia Slough.

Portlanders can see Big Pipe levels by checking out the new online tracker.

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