Old Mill District adds outdoor seating; stores remodel

  • Anthony’s at The Old Mill recently added a sliding wall to allow its bar to be accessed indoors and out. Several stores and the shopping center itself are being renovated. (Submitted photo)

Covered waiting area added for ride hailing users

A rooftop deck with a view of the Deschutes River and outdoor seating at restaurants are just two changes the Old Mill District will make to improve the customer experience.

The work is being done at the same time several stores are renovating:

Bath & Body Works is remodeling and will move to a temporary location at 450 SW Powerhouse Drive until September. The store will be closed July 1 to July 4.

Anthony’s at the Old Mill added a sliding wall in its bar to allow for an indoor/outdoor dining experience.

Ginger’s Kitchenware added an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar.

American Eagle will close for remodeling on Sept. 23 and reopen in October.

Hilton Garden Inn renovated rooms, public spaces and is working on the building exterior.

“We’re always trying to create a cool, unique sense of space,” said Beau Eastes, Old Mill District digital content manager. “We want to create pockets of space for visitors.”

On average about 16,000 people a day go to the Old Mill shopping area, Eastes said.

Getting people to spend more time at the shopping district means more sales, said Amy Watson, an Oregon State University-Cascades marketing professor. As more shoppers opt for the convenience of online shopping, creating spaces for customers to hang out allows retail centers to differentiate themselves, Watson said.

“The Old Mill does this very well,” she said. “Usually with retail, the time spent equals money spent. If you can get customers to linger, you can get them to spend.”

Four new outdoor seating areas have been carved out at the 55-shop retail center. New seating areas in front of Hola, Kona Mix Grill, Ben & Jerry’s and Boxwood Kitchen include awnings and planter boxes.

Sunshine filled the patio area outside the Boxwood Kitchen. During happy hour, the umbrellas provide shade, restaurant manager Brian Haussmann said. “It’s pretty cozy,” Haussmann said. “It’s a mellow parking lot, not a lot of exhaust or anything. I love our space back here. We’re tucked away and it doesn’t feel like a shopping mall.”

The rooftop deck above Strictly Organic’s coffee shop will have four tables and umbrellas and will be open to all customers. That area should be completed by September, Eastes said.

“These are self-evaluated projects that show off the cool areas on the property,” said Eastes. “A lot of these changes the stores are making aren’t being driven by us.”

Other changes included a designated, covered ride hailing drop off and pickup area near the Les Schwab Amphitheater for ride hailing users, he said.

Up the road, the Hilton Garden Inn also is finishing a complete overhaul of guest rooms and guest spaces, said Scott Ableman, Braintree Hospitality president.

“We’re pretty pleased with the way it turned out,” Ableman said. “It’s a different style, but it fits into the Bend culture and the Bend ambiance.”

The interior work was completed this month. The exterior work and parking lot repaving will be done by the end of August, Ableman said. The company declined to state how much the renovation cost.

“Stores need to revitalize themselves,” Watson said. “Online retailers are constantly making the experience more palatable and easier to navigate. Stores have to become more of a destination.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

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