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PORTLAND-The overall retail vacancy rate remained fairly stable at 5.5% during the third quarter, as developers continue to add space to the market, according to a third quarter report from Norris Beggs & Simpson.

While Montgomery Ward, Home Base, Good Guys, Rite Aid, Staples, Office Max, Kmart and Gateway Computers all have closed between one and five stores locally, companies like WinCo and Target have backfilled some of that space. Similarly, Dollar Tree recently signed a lease for the 92,000-sf former Newberry’s department store at Lloyd Center and plans to open another 15,000-sf store at Plaza 205.

Other evidence of a strong retail market includes the revival of the Round at Beaverton Central, a Downtown mixed-use project that was stalled for three years but is back underway and will include 120,000-sf of retail space. As well, 17 acres approved for The Shops at Tanasbourne, a planned 420,000-sf retail development, is being sold to an Ohio developer planning a 2004 opening, and Costco has submitted plans to build a 150,000 sf store to anchor the proposed 376,000-sf Argyle Square Development in Wilsonville.

Some older projects are also undergoing transformations into different uses, according to the report. In McMinnville, the former Tanger Outlet Mall is changing into a 200,000-sf medical and mixed-use complex to be known as the Yamhill Professional Center. In Johns Landing, The Water Tower is being renovated to include office space. Pier One Imports, the restaurants and some retailers will stay, but the remaining spaces will be marketed to office tenants.

As reported earlier this week on GlobeSt.com, a recently released report by Moody’s Investor Service that looked at supply and demand called Portland’s neighborhood and community center retail market the 6th best in the country. The report gave Portland 94 out of 100 points compared to a national average of 88.

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