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Lloyd Center manager leaves for mall job at Fort Bliss, El Paso, but not before praising his allies and blasting his critics.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - The Lloyd Center remodel proceeds slowly as owners Cypress Equities pump $50 million into making it an entertainment-based mall with a Live Nation concert venue and a multiplex.

Bob Dye, who was brought in to manage Lloyd Center in August 2015, is moving on. Dye's last day was Friday, May 31. He is leaving to manage the Freedom Crossing shopping center on the country's largest military base, Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

On his way out, Dye had praise for Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw, but blasted his politically correct critics.

Cypress Equities, a Dallas, Texas-based investment and management company, bought Lloyd Center in 2013 and committed to spend $50 million on an 18-month remodel. That remodel is done but there are many empty stores in the building.

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Bob Dye is leaving Lloyd Center for a shopping center on Fort Bliss in Texas.

"I was not looking for a job, but apparently this job was looking for me," Dye told the Business Tribune referring to El Paso. "I honestly believed that I would ride into the sunset while at Lloyd Center."

He and his wife had just put an offer in on a new home in Newberg, where they live, when he got a call from an old industry friend. He thought it was about running the Vancouver Mall and was set to say no, but ended up talking on the phone for two-and-a-half hours. They took a plane to El Paso and, the next day having seen the Freedom Crossing, he put money down on a 2019 four-bedroom, two bathroom ("with a snail shell shower") that costs $352,000.

"The decision to leave was excruciatingly difficult because I really believe in Lloyd Center and the Lloyd community as a whole. The Lloyd (we no longer call it Lloyd District) is constantly evolving . … What once was a daytime community of workers has grown into a full-time community where you can walk or bike to almost anything your heart desires. And it will continue to evolve, as will Lloyd Center."

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Dye says middle market stores like Claire's are hurting the most, while luxury and deep discount stores are surviving in the face of e-commerce's dominance.

Shopping and a show

Dye's job was management, with much time given over to security. The owners want to remake the mall as an entertainment destination, since retail is wilting across the county.

He said Lloyd Center will become a mixed-use development with retail, office, entertainment and food, with new office space in the east wing where Marshalls and Sears were and food, entertainment and retail on the west side.

"Live Nation will be the bell-cow that will pull retailers over to that wing … People going to concerts at Live Nation will likely arrive very early to grab the best parking and dine and/or shop before the concert."

Dye acknowledges that retail is struggling but says it is the mid to low end that is hurting because of e-commerce, while deep discount and luxury stores can hold their own.

"Sears, Payless Shoes, Claire's Boutiques, Aeropostale, Dress Barn, American Eagle are just a few of the discount retailers that have or will fail and ultimately close. Kmart, Kohl's and JC Penney are struggling as well. Walmart will get hammered if the recent tariffs on the Chinese are retaliated."

PHOTO: JULIA DEBAECKE - Closed: Lloyd Center has some blank spots.

He says the tax-free nature of internet sales is hurting brick and mortar, but "the International Council of Shopping Centers has been lobbying for years for there to be fairness in terms of sales tax via the Main Street Fairness Act. It has been on the docket for years but has failed to get the support it needs for the bill to pass."

Another threat to retail is Organized Retail Crime (ORC). "These are smart, calculated thefts of merchandise, sometimes in the thousands of dollars on a single store. And the threat of litigation means that many, many stores fail to apprehend and/or prosecute. It is an epidemic of colossal proportions, nowhere any worse than right here in Portland, Oregon."

Microaggressive management

In December 2018 an African American man, Jermaine Massey, a guest at the Doubletree hotel next door, had the police called on

him and then ejected. Dye put the Doubletree general manager in touch with Antjuan Tolbert at the NAACP, which has space in Lloyd Center, to smooth things out. The security guard and on-duty manager at the hotel were fired. "Bringing in the NAACP is hands down the thing I'm most proud of because it opened up some important dialogue."

Dye has words for Portland City Council and Multnomah County.

"A perfect storm of a predominantly anti-cop city council, a severely under-manned police bureau, and a Multnomah County commission that closed half of the available jail beds to portray a false narrative on mass incarceration has resulted in a catch-and-release program and ultimately, no consequences for the bottom feeders preying on area retailers."

He also took a swing at opponents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

"The JTTF? Not welcome in Portland. An agency whose sole purpose is to investigate and root out potential terrorism cells. I'm not a terrorist, but I sure would want to know if the people in the house four doors down might be."

Dye was surprised to find there is no security department at the mall on Fort Bliss. "They sort of chuckled and said 'It's called military police.' If you do anything bad you are on federal property, which means you get locked up and they ask questions later. So that'll be a nice respite from what I've dealt with over the past four years."

PHOTO: JULIA DEBAECKE - Lloyd Center: blank storefronts.

Rocky mountain

He's referring to the organized shoplifting at all Portland's malls. He calls them gangs. One group is known by their family name, which Dye won't divulge. "Then we have the Colorado Group. They're called that because the car that they drive has Colorado plates on it, more than likely stolen plates."

They arrive, they scatter, they cause distractions, they steal items by putting on clothes in the changing rooms or just running out past the security barriers. The goods are returned later as exchanges. The thieves argue with clerks to get cash or store credit.

"The mall security do not have jurisdiction to go into a store and say, 'Stop, you can't do that.' What they can do is meet with the store manager and request that we assist him getting these people out. .... Usually what happens after that is they get very loud and in some cases will then call out that we're doing that because of the color their skin."

Dye says the caretakers of Holladay Park rake up security tags that have been torn off before shoplifters depart by MAX train.

Deactivating the space

That park's programming is in question now. When Cypress Equities of Dallas bought the mall they made a point of "activating" the park with children's activities, music, yoga and Zumba to make it feel less threatening.

Now Dye says the Portland Parks & Recreation has withdrawn funding.

"We (Lloyd Center) funded everything at Holladay Park for four years, starting in 2014. It was never intended to be a permanent program. When you add it all up, it's over a million-dollar investment over five years from the owner. It's $150,000 to $200,000 a year to keep that area in Zumba classes and all that stuff. So, we looked at it over the past 12 months and we made the decision to cease funding. The City said, 'We want you to pay $40,000 towards our administrative costs, or we're not going to provide any manpower for the programs.' That was the frosting on the cake. We decided to discontinue funding (this spring) and reallocate those resources to the mall."

Mayor Wheeler asked him to apply for the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing, a committee which grew out of the settlement between the federal government and the Department of Justice. Dye was co-chair of the subcommittee on individuals with mental health issues. "I think Wheeler was really smart getting that piece up and running. He's attending their monthly meetings, and they go late. We get a lot of crap, some of it maybe deserved. But this is the guy who's working all day long and then he's going to this thing to nine o'clock. And Chief Outlaw, I think she has been in all the meetings as well."

He has had several conversations with Danielle Outlaw.

"She's the best chief of police at the city for least a generation. Whenever I talk to the mayor and to Chief Outlaw, I speak on behalf of the Lloyd community, not just the shopping centers. She listens. I remember my wife and I went to a function where Danielle Outlaw was at. She saw me as we walked up, she goes, 'Oh, there's Dye, I better be on my toes.' She has a sense of humor. I don't have enough positive words for Danielle. She is truly at the top of her game."

PHOTO: JULIA DEBAECKE - The B Store, for goods made by B Corporations, has closed.

Trolls

Dye wrote in an email to the Business Tribune after his final PCCEP meeting last week,

"I attended my final PCCEP meeting last night. The trolls were out in force, disrupting the meeting as usual, calling me white privileged because I voted in favor of a measure that would provide funding for a program targeted at youth gang violence. So I am a racist because I supported a program that could educate African-American youths in hopes that they can see there are better options than getting caught up in a gang, and a life they would ultimately regret. The disrupters were no less vocal when I supported a pilot program for police body cameras. Something that would hold police officers more accountable. It didn't end there. Members of Portland Cop Watch followed me and harassed me all the way to my car."

His successor has not been picked but he did present a candidate to the owners of the mall. He says she's a woman whom he worked with at Bridgeport Village and whom he has mentored for 15 years.

With Portland in the rear view mirror, he said, "Ted Wheeler, I hope he runs (again). The city needs some stability and he's the right guy for it. Yeah, and I'm a conservative."

PMG: JAIME VALDEZ - Lloyd Center has been looking quiet lately, with many closed down stores and light foot traffic. Here it is on a recent Sunday in May. General manager Bob Dye is leaving to manage a mall on a military base in El Paso, Texas, but not before praising his allies and blasting his critics.

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Holladay's over

A statement from Alicia Hammock, Urban Parks Supervisor, Portland Parks & Recreation

"Portland Parks & Recreation would like to thank Holladay Park Partnership (HPP) — led by Bob Dye and Cypress Equities for their financial support of programming at Holladay Park since it piloted in the summer 2014. Through HPP's funding, PP&R has been able to provide positive activation of the park during the summer months and spring breaks with events and activities, as well as dedicated Park Ranger presence.

Moving forward, Cypress Equities will be shifting its investments to focus more on security at Lloyd Center. Therefore, beginning this summer, Holladay Park's programmed events and activities, as well as dedicated Park Ranger presence, will be discontinued due to the loss of funding.

PP&R's Park Rangers will continue to serve Holladay Park as part of their regular City coverage. And we will be working with City and community partners to address the impacts of this change to the park and neighborhood."

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Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
971-204-7874
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