City releases Request for Expression of Interest for new performing arts facility

News Article
The City of Portland is exploring the availability of potential sites for a new performing arts venue. A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) invites submissions by interest-holding parties for suitable properties by August 11, 2023.

The City of Portland today, released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for a new performing arts facility. Submissions by interest-holding parties for properties which could be suitable for this use are due August 11, 2023. 

Keller Auditorium has been one of Portland’s largest performing arts venues for more than 100 years. Owned by the City of Portland and operated by the Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, a service of Metro, the Keller is the largest theatrical auditorium in Oregon and is the only theater in the Portland area capable of hosting Broadway performances, large operas and ballet productions.  

Keller’s considerable size — and role — is vital to Portland’s arts community, generating half of the revenue for Metro’s Portland’5 theaters, which helps to make smaller, local productions feasible, affordable and accessible. 

Like many older civic buildings, the Keller was not built to withstand a major earthquake. A 2020 seismic report provides a preliminary analysis of structural renovations needed to meet modern safety standards at the venue. Upgrades are also needed to improve guest amenities, backstage facilities and mechanical and production systems, to ensure large-scale productions can continue into the future. 

In 2022, the City of Portland and Metro contributed funds to a privately led effort to explore a renovation plan for the existing site with seismic and structural improvements, along with safety, accessibility and production efficiency upgrades, which meet current codes, all at the current venue location. This work builds on an earlier design competition aimed at reimagining the existing facility and is currently underway, scheduled for completion in late summer, 2023.

Concurrently, the City of Portland would like to examine possibilities for the development of a new large-scale performing arts venue, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of options for Keller Auditorium’s future that address the operational needs of the users (e.g., clients, performers, staff and guests). While renovation or replacement of the building on-site are two obvious options, a third option, building anew in an alternative location, is being considered as it would allow continuous operations and may present other opportunities not possible on the current site.

The City is considering all modes of partnership opportunities for the potential new site: purchase, lease and/or co-development. The opportunity to become an anchor tenant to a larger development and generate millions of dollars in economic impact to our region is both exciting and trailblazing.

View the New Performing Arts Facility Request for Expression of Interest

Related documents

July 12, 2023 RFEI: New Performing Arts Facility 153.37 KB

Keller Auditorium 2023 fact sheet 373.38 KB

Keller Auditorium 2020 Seismic Analysis Summary 6.84 MB