"But I don't expect its really empty at all" said Diggory.
"What do you expect?"
"I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a dark lantern...It's all rot to say that a house would be empty all those years unless there was some mystery."
"Daddy thought it must be the drains" said Polly
"Grown-ups are always thinking of uninteresting explanations."
The Galleria is a shopping mall located in downtown Portland, Oregon. The building was bought by the Naito Family and turned into an upscale, urban shopping mall in 1972. I have early memories of going to the Galleria in the early 1980s, and I remember it seeming incredibly lush and well-heeled. Even the name was much more elegant than the average shopping mall.
And then something happened. According to the conventional history, this was the building of Pioneer Place in 1990. Pioneer Place is a four square block urban shopping mall a few blocks from Pioneer Place, and its establishment could obviously pose some competition to the Galleria. Pioneer Place, although somewhat upscale, was more conventional of a shopping mall than The Galleria was, since the Galleria took up a single building on a single block, with most of the relatively small shops facing a single interior courtyard.
Over the past ten years, The Galleria has not managed to gain and hold a single anchor tenant, although the Made in Oregon store on the ground floor comes close. To walk into the Galleria today is to find an almost empty building, with the occasional specialty shop holding a tenuous existence. On the upper floors, there are some professional shops, but the entire atmosphere is desolate, especially considering the streets outside and the surrounding area are full of people and busy retail shops. The Galleria is also located where the central MAX lines cross the Portland Streetcar tracks, so there is quite a bit of pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood. Why the owners of the building, the prestigious Naito family, continue to hold on to it, is unknown to me. Perhaps they want to hold on to such a historic landmark, and perhaps they believe that the fortunes of the Galleria will turn around at some point. Indeed, about every two years or so, a remodeling and predicted renaissance of the Galleria is promised, but none of them has yet to stick.
The usual explanation for the Galleria's ill fortune is the opening of Pioneer Place, but this explanation seems to be after the fact and somewhat tenuous to me. For one thing, it could be argued that the opening of a major shopping mall in downtown would lead to more traffic from the suburbs into downtown. Even if Pioneer Place is very competitive, it doesn't really explain why it would totally kill the Galleria. As well, if Pioneer Place was really suffocating retail establishments in the downtown area, why haven't other merchants closed down? Instead, all of downtown Portland seems to be swarming with retail.
So, as in the opening quote, perhaps we should have more imaginative reasons for the lack of success of the Naito family. And anyone entering off of the busy streets into the empty building will not have to work hard to imagine: in the proper frame of mind, any number of cyberpunk fantasies or ideas about Ventrue operating out of the top floors make perfect sense to the visitor to the Galleria.