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Owners updating Valley River Center.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Eugene's Valley River Center, needing a face-lift to brighten its drab appearance and help it compete against newer rivals, is launching a $2 million renovation.

When completed next spring, the exterior facade on much of the enclosed regional shopping mall will sport a new look. Also, the mall's interior is being touched up.

Workers now are installing metal cladding, slate tiles and precast concrete columns on the east side of the mall - the busiest and most visible side.

Architect John Lawless said the aim is to add depth and color to the mall's exterior.

"Things will stand out," said Lawless, president of TBG Architects & Planners in Eugene. "We are providing three-dimensional profiles to the facade as opposed to (the present) flat, painted surfaces."

The appearance of the mall - a 34-year-old complex, mostly tan in color and anchored by massive department store buildings - needed to be updated, said David Olson, a San Francisco-based senior vice president of Grosvenor, the mall's owner.

"From time to time, we want to make sure we present a fresh image for the center," he said.

The work began with interior painting two months ago, mall manager Veronica Molony said. New lights, yet to be installed, will brighten the interior, especially on gloomy winter days, she said.

Two main mall entrances on the east side - between Chili's and J.C. Penney, and between the former Emporium and Meier & Frank - are being redone.

But while parts of the exterior get a new look, the outside of the mall's largest tenants - Meier & Frank, Bon-Macy's, J.C. Penney and Copeland's Sports - will not change.

Those mall occupants either own their buildings or have leases that let them control the exterior appearance, Molony said.

The empty Montgomery Ward structure, owned by Grosvenor but awaiting redevelopment, won't be included in the work either.

The exterior work will be done in two phases. The first, to be done by November, will change the look of the east side of the mall. The second, to be done by next May, will cover the less visible west side of the mall, which faces the river.

The renovation is part of Grosvenor's ongoing effort to freshen up the entire commercial area around the mall, as well as the mall itself.

The center, encompassing more than a million square feet, includes a half-dozen buildings outside the mall that are home to Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Petco, Gateway Country, Mucho Gusto Mexican Kitchen, Umpqua Bank and other businesses.

In the past year or so, Grosvenor has spent about $1 million to renovate the exteriors of those structures, Olson said.

Valley River Plaza, a nearby building under different ownership, also is undergoing a major exterior renovation.
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Title Annotation:The 34-year-old retail complex gets a new image; Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 3, 2003
Words:451
Previous Article:North, South on rise.
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