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PORTLAND, OR-The announcement that Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) will open a new store at Clackamas Town Center is the latest move in the multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion of a 20-year-old center that will be complete by year-end.

The process will add 250,000 sf of open-air lifestyle retail to a 1.2 million-sf mall. Also joining the center are a 75,000-sf, 20-screen Century Theater and approximately 40 new stores and restaurants.

“It is designed to offer a different experience than [Clackamas] has today,” says Barry F. O’Connor, a vp of asset management of Chicago-based General Growth Properties, which acquired Clackamas Town Center in 2002. “We wanted to take the downtown feel and bring it to suburbia.”

This is the center’s first major renovation, done to prepare for the expansion of Portland’s population to the east side of the city. Thus far, the population and the shopping have mostly been on the western portion of the market, largely due to city planning that began in the 1970s.

REI’s two-story, 29,000-sf store will be its fourth in the market, but first on the east side.

“With the addition of the Clackamas store, we will be better able to serve the customers,” said Megan Behrbaum, a spokesperson for Sumner, WA-based REI.

The store will anchor an open-air lifestyle component being built at the mall’s front entrance. The lifestyle portion will consist of two outdoor shopping villages, the theater complex and a six-level parking garage.

The existing center also is being extensively renovated, as is anchor J.C. Penney.

The potential exists for an even more extensive expansion. Clackamas Town Center is just one component of a complete planned community that would include offices, residences, a light rail station and even more retail. Owner General Growth is merely waiting for the demand, O’Connor said.

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