City of Portland explores options for large-scale performance venue, including Keller Auditorium renovation and high-profile new sites

News Article
The City of Portland is one step closer to planning for the future of premier performing arts in Portland, as a renovation concept for Keller Auditorium nears completion and an open call for a future venue attracts proposals from Lloyd Center, Portland State University, OMSI and more.

For more than 100 years, Keller Auditorium has been one of Portland’s largest performing arts venues. 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.  

A seismic study completed in 2020 confirmed that, like many older civic buildings, the Keller was not built to withstand a major earthquake. The City and its partners are now teaming up to explore possibilities so that large-scale productions can continue long into the future.

A privately led effort to explore renovation possibilities for Keller Auditorium is near completion. In addition to necessary structural upgrades, renovations would also include improvements to outdated guest amenities, backstage facilities and mechanical and production systems.  

Proposed locations submitted in an open call for potential future performing arts venue sites

Eight proposals submitted in response to a Request for Expression of Interest also give city leaders a unique opportunity to examine locations for the potential development of a new large-scale performing arts venue, ensuring a comprehensive look at possibilities for Keller Auditorium’s future.

The submissions include properties in and near Portland’s Central City large enough to accommodate the needs of a new large-scale theater. Properties proposed for further examination include (in no particular order) Portland State University, an Oregon Museum of Science and Industry property, RiverPlace, the former ESCO steel foundry, Zidell Yards and two locations in the Lloyd District—including Lloyd Center Mall.

The City of Portland, Portland’5 Centers for the Performing Arts and Prosper Portland are evaluating the submissions, and in September, the proposed properties will be narrowed for further evaluation and conceptual design work to better evaluate feasibility.

By early 2024, both the Keller Auditorium renovation concept and a list of properties which could serve as potential sites for a new large-scale performing arts facility will be shared with city leaders as a comprehensive set of options for exploring the future of premier performing arts in Portland.

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