Tanasbourne Mall Facts and History Page
The Tanasbourne Mall was the brainchild of the Standard Insurance Company. It was located on 2700 NW 185th Ave (the intersection of 185th and the Sunset Highway). Built in 1974-75, it opened to the public on April 3, 1975. The mall was a semi-underground structure and featured approximately 50 retail stores. It covered 18 acres. The main storefronts were Safeway, Pay Less Drug and Miller's Department Store. It also featured a public library, auditorium and a day care facility. The mall ran out of steam and was closed in 1993. It was demolished shortly afterwards. Today, Target and it's massive front parking lot occupy to former site of the Tanasbourne Town Center.
In the late 1960's, Standard Insurance Company began buying land near NW 185th and U.S. Highway 26. This was a change in direction for Standard, who was in the insurance business, and marked an important shift in investment strategy. Standard wanted to do something different. They were worried about inflation reducing profits for their investors. So they committed to a development of income-producing properties in the real estate market. Tanasbourne was a planned community development complete with stores, office complexes, residences and light industry. It was to take place on a 450-acre parcel of land which would accommodate 15,000 people who "worked in high tech " and "would be living in style". The centerpiece of Tanasbourne was to be a 160,000 square foot enclosed shopping mall. It featured a two-story layout with retail on the lower level and business and professional offices on the upper levels. On first appearance, the mall seemed like it was subterranean. This was due to landscaping that buried the perimeter walls with back fill. From the beginning, the mall design was unconventional and faced roadblocks for approval. Several large chain drug and variety storefronts backed out of their plans to be in the center because Standard wouldn't change plans to suit them. Cost was estimated at $6 million. Facing a possible land-use change that would have eliminated commercial zoning, Standard decided to hastily build Tanasbourne Mall in the early 1970s to protect the regional zoning of the mall site. Building prematurely and ahead of the market contributed to the mall having a rough start with vacancy problems. The mall catered to Washington County residents from Aloha to Burlington and Cedar Mill to Banks. A long-range goal of Standard was to expand Tanasbourne Mall to one-million square feet by 1990. This expansion was to take place on 100 acres to the east of the old mall. Lack of planning and design flaws eventually sealed the coffin on the mall.
Tanasbourne Town Center (TTC) was never the success that Standard Insurance envisioned. Much of the mall had empty stores throughout it's life. In 1990, a new "open air" shopping center called Tanasbourne Village opened across the street. By prior agreement, mall tenants has first rights on space in the new shopping center. With this, a number of stores relocated into the new "power mall", leaving the older Tanasbourne Town Center location and further weakening the mall. Safeway and Pay Less (Rite Aid) were two of the stores that bolted at the chance. Many of the smaller shops followed. Loss of these 2 "anchor" stores spelled closure for the ailing mall. In the end, there was a dry cleaning business, a nightclub and a decent restaurant. At night, there was bingo and a choir rehearsing in the auditorium. She went slowly and peacefully into the night and then at the business end of a bulldozer in the morning on July 20, 1993.
Reasons the TTC failed:
1. Poor visibility. Store signs couldn't be seen from the street.
2. Even though the mall was occupied, much of it was doctors, architects, insurance and real estate tenants. There wasn't enough traffic to feed the lower level shop keepers and anchors.
3. Antiquated, bunker-like atmosphere with odd shaped windows.
4. The surrounding land areas were vulnerable to competing big box developments. As these new power malls were built, mall tenants bailed and upgraded their locations.
5. Changing attitudes towards malls, too time consuming. Trending to open air malls.
6. Expensive maintenance.
The following businesses were located in the mall at one time or another:
Pay Less Drug
Town Center Cinemas
Equitable Savings and Loan
First National Bank
Washington County Public Library
E.A. Poe Book Merchant
The Owl Pharmacy
Sunshine Pizza Exchange
Town Center Travel
The Cover Up (apparel)
Little Kingdom (children's apparel)
Design Center Interiors by Marti
Miller's Dept. Store
Learning Tree Daycare Center
Upper Level Pub
The Hair Affair
OLCC Liquor Store
Jo Jo's 24 hr Restaurant
Robert Bond Real Estate
Fletcher Skillern, DMD
A Jarring Note
Robert Goodwin, attorney
Aero Sports and Hobbies
Town Center Tri Cinemas was a main attraction and featured three movie theaters. The top selling movie of all time was "Jaws". Seating capacities were 535, 304 and 304. 70mm in the big auditorium. It was run by Moyer Theaters and later called Tanasbourne Cinemas.
The Town Center Cinema "Grand Opening" was June 18, 1975. Screen one featured "Gone in 60 Seconds". Screen two had "Jaws" and screen 3 featured "Tidal Wave".
There was a Tri-Met transit center and Park and Ride next to the mall.
The residential development adjacent to the mall was called Tanasbrook and featured 340 homes.
When Pay Less Drug came into the mall in 1986, it took the space formerly occupied by Miller's Dept. Store and Owl pharmacy.
Miller's Dept. Store was a retailer based out of McMinnville.
Some old mall merchants still exist in Tanasbourne Village across the street. These include: Safeway, Rite Aid (Pay Less), Gold Works Jewelry and Mark's Hallmark.
Tanasbourne Town Center Time Line:
1968 Standard Insurance first conception of Tanasbourne
1969 Standard purchases 300 acres at NW 185th and Hwy 26
1973 Zone change approved for construction of Town Center
1973 Tanasbrook built (340 condominiums) near mall
1974 Mall construction begins
1975 Tanasbourne Town Center opens
1976 New Tanasbourne Library opens
1978 Mall continues to fill with retailers
1982 TTC merchants voice concerns over lackluster sales and profits
1986 Pay Less Drug opens in TTC
1987 Hillsboro annexes Tanasbourne
1987 Zoning change approved for shopping centers across from mall
1988 Plans for expansion of TTC are made but never happen
1989 British company Pan Pacific buys 50% of mall from Standard Ins Co.
1990 Tanasbourne Village opens across the street
1990 Safeway and Pay Less relocate across street
1993 TTC demolished
1997 Target, Old Navy stores open
2004 The Streets of Tanasbourne opens
The Oregonian (multiple articles)
The Hillsboro Argus
Art, Architecture and Engineering Library, 1979, U of Michigan Archives