The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

November 16, 2007

Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall

Filed under: Bellevue, Malls — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 3:16 am

Update 9/28/08:  Work is (slowly) beginning on the redevelopment project here.  A new update on the current status of this mall and its tenants has just been posted here.  Also see this post for the previous update on the redevelopment project.

NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts that wll eventually profile most of the major malls in the greater Seattle area.  For those of you who might have missed it, the first post in this series covering the Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland can be found here.

In some ways, the Factoria Mall is quite smilar to the Totem Lake Mall, which was profiled previously on this Blog.  Both were built around the same time, and are relatively small in comparison to most of the other malls in the area.  Both are located in neighborhoods that became increasingly affluent with the rise of the technology industry in the area.  In spite of this, these malls have failed to keep up with the times.  In the case of the Totem Lake Mall, the loss of major tenants has left only a handful of stores operating in the lower part of the mall, and the enclosed mall portion all but abandoned.  The Factoria Mall has also faced the loss of major tenants, with their Gottschalk’s store (another former Lamonts) closing in 2005, and the Mervyn’s closing shortly afterward when the company left the Pacific Northwest.  On the other hand, the Factoria Mall still has a number of major tenants, and has managed to retain a critical mass of customers to keep it viable, if not thriving.  Also like the Totem Lake Mall, there are plans in the works for a major overhaul, although from the plans posted in the mall it would appear to be far less drastic than that planned for Totem Lake.  After the jump, a tour of the Factoria Mall as it stands today.

Basic facts:

  • Owner: Kimco Reality \ Kimco Redevelopment Group
  • Formerly known as Factoria Square
  • Will be known as the Marketplace at Factoria after the planned redevelopment (but who bothers with using those contrived renames anyway?  To the people who have been shopping there, it will always be the Factoria Mall.)
  • Website: http://www.factoriamall.com
  • Major tenants:  Target, Safeway, Rite Aid, Nordstrom Rack, Old Navy, Petco, TJ Maxx, DSW Shoes
  • Former major tenants: Lamonts/Gottschalks, Mervyn’s

This is the “front” of the mall, although this side of the mall faces away from I-405 (which is just behind the mall from  this vantage point.)  The facades you see here are mostly for decoration, and most do not provide entrances to the stores behind them.  They were added roughly five years ago to cover up what amounted to a big wall of concrete.  The green rectangle you see over the entrance used to be the sign for the Gottschalks.  The space is occupied now, but not in the way you might expect.  More on that later.

This photo gives a better idea of what the sign would have looked like.  There is an Old Navy store behind the Burger King, one of several restaurants and banks  around the edges of the mall.  Also on the periphery of the mall is a freestanding Big 5 Sporting Goods store.

To the right of the main portion of the mall can be found the Rite Aid and Safeway.  Although the Rite Aid has a mall entrance (basically a single door), the Safeway does not.  This particular Safeway has not received the modernizations that have been made to a number of other Safeway stores in the area to help them compete with their upscale competition.  Oddly enough, the redevelopment plan on the developer’s website shows this space subdivided into two smaller stores.

Next to the sidewalk in the far corner of the mall property, this curious slab of gratuitous concrete can be found.  This was part of a City-funded beautification and traffic improvement plan several years ago that didn’t really do all that much to beautify the place, but they did improve the traffic flow a bit.

In the far corner of the mall, we see the empty space where the Mervyn’s used to be, as well as an OshKosh B’Gosh and Petco store.  The Old Navy is just to the right of this.

Also from here you can see the Big 5 store in back, and what used to be a Billy McHale’s restaurant. This building has now sat vacant for a number of years.  Billy McHale’s was a regional chain of fern bar type restaurants, most of which closed down several years ago.  There are still a few locations scattered about which now appear to be independently owned and operated, but still retain the Billy McHale’s name.  There was also a former Billy McHale’s location just a couple of blocks from my apartment in Redmond, but it was demolished last year after it sat vacant for a long time, and a new condo development is now being built in its place.

A closer look at the building reveals that they didn’t bother to do much cleanup on the way out  The grounds do appear to be maintained to some extent, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for the building itself.

Looking into one of the windows, we can see that tables and decorations were all left in place when the place closed.  I wasn’t able to get a very good picture of the inside, but this website has a photo on the front page which should give you a pretty good idea of what it should look like.  A textbook example of the “toss a bunch of random neon junk up on the wall and call it decor” school of restaurant design.  According to the redevelopment plans, this restaurant would be demolished, and a couple of new buildings would be erected on this corner of the property.  I can’t say it would be a huge loss, although it might be interesting to go inside for a little while and look around.

Moving along, we go now to the back of the mall (this is the side facing I-405.)  Over here, we see Nordstrom Rack, which is where Nordstrom sends all their discounted merchandise in order to make sure that the customers in their regular store never have to worry about seeing a low price anywhere,  The small neon sign you see is for the Red Robin restaurant inside.

Next to those, we have the space that was formerly occupied by Gottschalks, but has since been subdivided into these two stores.  There was a bit of excitement at the TJMaxx store about a month and a half ago when a wayward motorist managed to plow their car into the front door of the store.

Finally, we have the Target store located in the back of the mall.  One thing I noted when I looked at the redevelopment plan is that although most of the major stores currently in the mall are marked as such, this space is simply marked as “anchor”.  Given the recent opening of a brand new Target store a few miles south of here on 405, and the expansion of other Targets in the area, this leads me to wonder if the future of this store might be in doubt.

 

Moving to the inside of the mall, we are greeted by this giant shopping bag, next to the Nordstrom Rack, in front of one of several vacant spaces.  Underneath the green part could be found the words “just keeps getting better!”, but presumably the truth in advertising laws made it necessary to cover this up.

 

This picture should give you a general idea of what the mall looks like.  One interesting thing to note is the floor, where the existing tile (as you can still see on the edges) was covered with concrete for some inexplicable reason.  If you take a close look at the floor, you can still see the tile outlines under it.  Granted, the tile might have been worn in places, but I can’t think of any situation in which concrete would look any better.

This picture should give you a better idea of how this floor looks.  On a personal note, the space which the Jamba Juice now occupies used to be the home of Game Plays, a little hole-in-the-wall arcade in which I probably spent way too much money during my years of study at BCC while killing time before classes (a really nice Twilight Zone pinball machine set on a quarter a play with the volume cranked will do that.)  Given the lack of proper arcades around here I now play on an arcade cabinet located roughly five feet away from my computer, but that’s another post.  Incidentally, the store with the moving sale is a longtime tenant of the mall, and claims they will be moving to a different store within the mall.  Since I’m not in the habit of buying women’s clothing, I haven’t confirmed this.

On the other side of the hallway, we see several empty storefronts.  One belonged to a travel agency which just moved to a different location in the mall, the other used to contain a vehicle licensing office.

Further down the hallway, we see a number of other empty stores, plus an Old Country Buffet, and a Payless Shoe Source.  Not in the picture are a Bath and Body Works (to the left) and a mini post office and Hallmark store (behind the Old Country Buffet.)  Note that the mall isn’t quite as empty as these pictures make it look; I tried to make an effort to keep the number of random people shown in these pictures to a minimum.  Under the redevelopment plan, this section of the mall should remain relatively intact, although I have to imagine that some remodeling would be in order.  For some reason, this picture makes the place look a lot more bright and cheerful than it usually is.

On the other hand, this section just around the corner would be removed, and replaced with a roadway connecting the front of the mall to the back.  Most of the concept sketches for the redesign depict this particular area, which would presumably become the centerpiece of the newly redesigned shopping center.  In the meantime, you can see the mall entrance to the Target in back.

 As I mentioned earlier, when the former Lamonts/Gottschalks location in the mall was abandoned at roughly the same time as the Mervyn’s, the former Gottschalks store was subdivided into what is now DSW Shoes and TJMaxx.  One problem with this was the fact that the Gottschalks store had two different mall entrances.  The solution?  Drywall over it and hope that nobody notices.  The posters you see on the wall show some of the concept sketches for the redevelopment.  Also note the empty spaces on the right (one used to contain a cellphone store owned by NBA player Gary Payton before he skipped town and burned pretty much every bridge along the way.)  Also on the left is the temporary location of Hickory Farms, America’s favorite fly-by-night meat purveyor for over 50 years.

 

Turning around, we see another empty storefront.  for a while, the mall’s information booth was located here before it was decided that nobody really needed any  information.  You can see the Target entrance in back, and there’s also a Radio Shack,  the mall’s management offices, a greek cafe, a shoe repair place and a Bellevue Police substation back here.

Finally, we see the hallway leading to what used to be the Mervyn’s store.  The Petco store dominates this hallway and takes up most of the left side, but on the other side are several more empty spaces.  Of note here is the KidsQuest Children’s Museum located in the back corner, but not visible here. Over the years, they have tried to establish a child-oriented theme in this part of the mall, with the children’s museum and the OshKosh B’Gosh store, as well as a toy store (the “lego block” storefront you see on the right) which relocated to Bellevue Square sometime last year.  There used to be a number of kiddie rides here, as well as a play area (the column you see on the left has padding on it left over from this, but these disappeared even before the Mervyn’s closed.)  Under the redevelopment plan, it appears that this area would remain mostly intact, but the Mervyn’s would be demolished and replaced with a mix of new retail and residental space. 

 So what does the future hold for the Factoria Mall?  Well, unlike the apparently stalled redevelopment of the Totem Lake Mall this project looks like it is actually going forward, although it isn’t clear exactly when construction will start here.  The developer’s website contains a significant amount of information on the planned redevlopement, including concept drawings, plans (which are somewhat small and difficult to see on the website) and other information, as well as some information on the layout of the existing mall.  In the meantime I will attempt to contact the developer and try to get a better idea of the timeframe on the redevelopment project, and exactly how this is going to work.  If I can get this information, I will either update this post or make a new one. 

 Coming up next:  The Crossroads Shopping Center in Bellevue, another small mall that has faced the same circumstances as Factoria and Totem Lake, but has thrived by taking a very different approach.

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23 Comments »

  1. Too bad this mall has deteriorated. I recall many fun days at Factoria and Totem Lake Malls in the early 80’s!

    The kind folks at the B-Dalton book store informed me the Mall Owners did not renew their lease. They also said the Jamba Juice and Seattle’s Best Coffee did not get renewed either.

    Looking forward to your review to Crossroads. I hope you include the orignal mall history before the last renovation (Golfing range too).

    Comment by Greg Shill — December 31, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  2. [...] Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall « The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0 Factoria Mall Just Keeps Getting Emptier « The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0 [...]

    Pingback by Mooiness! » Urban decay and deterioration — January 30, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  3. [...] up: Factoria Mall, a mall in Bellevue with somewhat similar circumstances.  It hasn’t declined nearly as much [...]

    Pingback by Retail Wasteland - A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — February 15, 2008 @ 10:46 pm

  4. You forgot about b. dalton! I was an employee there and our store had been there for 30 years when the mall decided we were not good enough for them . Yes, our store was tiny, but we were doing a little over 700,000 a year in sales. We are owned by Barnes and Noble so it wasnt as if we were a struggling company. This mall is a joke.

    Comment by Christina — February 28, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

  5. I’m just curious — were the Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack, Safeway or Rite Aid spaces ever occupied by different stores?

    Comment by Bobby — April 9, 2008 @ 12:31 pm

  6. Bobby:

    Of the four stores you mentioned, the only one I can be certain of is the Old Navy store, which was previously an Ernst Hardware (although I can’t tell you how long it was open for, it closed when the chain went under.) The Nordstrom Rack store has only been around for roughly ten years now, but I can’t tell you what might have been there previously. If I had to guess, I’d say that the Rite Aid has probably been there as long as the mall has (previously as a Pay ‘n Save / PayLess Drug store), and the same is likely true for the Safeway. My research has been focused primarily on the Totem Lake Mall for the time being, so I haven’t had much chance to go dig through the archives for info on Factoria yet.

    Comment by Brian Lutz — April 9, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

  7. Did you do one on Everett Mall, I was there about 2 years ago and it was DEAD!!

    Comment by KK — April 9, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

  8. I haven’t done a post on the Everett Mall yet, but if the last time you were there was two years ago, chances are it’s in better shape now than it was then. There has been some remodeling (nothing quite as drastic as what is planned for Factoria) and a number of stores have been added on the outside of the mall (including a Best Buy,Bed Bath and Beyond and a TJMaxx.) In addition to those, they also added a number of stores inside the mall (including a Steve and Barry’s and LA Fitness that took over the former Mervyn’s space, an Old Navy, Borders Books and a brand new cinema.) I’ll get to that one eventually, but I’m trying to get the Eastside malls done first. The next one in line is Crossroads (working on it now, but need to go retake some photos since my camera is full of fail,) then Redmond Town Center and Bellevue Square will follow that. Everett Mall will probably be after those, and I need to do Southcenter as well, but I’m waiting until after the new expansion opens for that.

    Comment by Brian Lutz — April 9, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  9. Factoria Mall, Totem lake Mall, and Crossroads Mall are what developers and planners refer to as community shopping centers. I would like to see you continue to explore the remaining community shopping centers of the Seattle area before moving on to the regional or super regional malls like Northgate, Westfield Southcenter, and Bellevue Square. So far the community centers have not been written about on the Web as much as the regional centers.

    The one thing that the more prominent Seattle area community centers seem to have in common is a branch of a Lamont’s junior department store as the main anchor. In addition to the malls mentioned earlier, other community shopping centers anchored by Lamont’s included University Village, Lake Forest Park Center, and Westwood Village or Town Center. Lamont’s had evolved from the Seattle based Rhodes department store, not to be confused with the Rhodes Western chain that had stores from Tacoma WA to San Antonio TX. Rhodes had built suburban stores at some of the community centers including University Village, Crossroads, and perhaps others before the Rhodes family sold the chain to Pay ‘n Save Corporation around 1967. It was about this time when Rhodes closed its downtown Seattle store. The community centers anchored by Lamont’s generally had Pay ‘n Save drug stores and Ernst Hardware or home centers. There was usually a supermarket as well but not always the same brand. Factoria has always had a Safeway. Westwood and Crossroads had California based Lucky stores before the chain pulled out of the Seattle market. The original supermarket and drug stores at Crossroads were Market Basket and Market Time, local chains that had already been purchased by Fred Meyer by the time that Crossroads opened.

    After documenting the community centers, you may want to move on to the regional centers before dealing with the super regional centers. These would include Renton Center, once anchored by a two-story Sears and now the site of a Fred Meyer; Aurora Village, once home to Frederick & Nelson’s north end branch, now a power center; and Lakewood Town Centre, formerly Villa Plaza, home of Rhodes Western’s first Tacoma suburban branch and now a power center as well.

    Before Totem Lake Malls had been built, downtown Kirkland used to have a junior branch of J C Penney and a Ben Franklin variety store. Also, Evergreen Hospital in the Totem Lake area replaced Kirkland General Hospital on the edge of downtown Kirkland.

    I enjoyed viewing your entries on Totem Lake and Factoria and look forward to seeing your write-ups on Crossroads and other malls.

    Comment by Mark Bozanich — April 19, 2008 @ 3:40 pm

  10. [...] upon proposed land action signs posted around the current (and rather dumpy) Factoria Mall. Rumors have circulated for more than a year that the mall would get an extreme makeover, which would [...]

    Pingback by Factoria Redevelopment Begins…FINALLY! | Redfin Seattle Sweet Digs — June 30, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  11. This is a great blog.

    Comment by QueenMalley — July 5, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  12. [...] credits: The Sledgehammer; Kimco Redevelopment Group; WorldChanging [...]

    Pingback by What to do with a dead shopping mall « ThinkingShift — August 18, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

  13. I love your blog. A real documentary of the recession. My daughter was visiting here last weekend and we went to Factoria Mall. She was shocked to see how empty it had become. Thanks for putting together this interesting record!

    Comment by Kathy — May 22, 2009 @ 10:40 pm

  14. [...] mall.  Meanwhile, I get distracted by posts like this great time capsule of my past: a post about Factoria Mall, outside of where I used to work in Seattle.  That place was a dump, but my first year of work was [...]

    Pingback by Marathon « Tell Me a Story About the Devil — November 15, 2009 @ 11:18 am

  15. What relentlessly ugly and realistic pictures with the overcast and clouds. I was a little kid in Mockingbird Hill when this place was just cattails and a grocery store called Ole’s (I think). This was a long time ago when the Standard (Chevron) station used to give my dad free silverware for filling up his Travelall (the original SUV). Also back then the Mobil (nee Exxon) station at the top of Kinney hill was called Enco. So I guess I am now officially a geezer. Come to think of it I think there was a drive in theater at the current site of Factoria too. Anyone else remember if that’s correct?

    Comment by M Johnson — March 8, 2010 @ 2:43 am

  16. You are correct about there being a drive-in here, but it turns out that it wasn’t on the site of the mall itself. The Sunset Drive-In was in roughly the spot where the current Factoria Cinema is located now, and it is pretty common to see newspaper ads for the drive-in throughout the Fifties and Sixties newspapers. Here is a HistoricAerials image from 1968 that shows it (incidentally, the Factoria Mall site appears to be vacant land at this point.)

    Comment by Brian Lutz — March 8, 2010 @ 8:22 am

  17. Thanks for the cool link and name of the drive-in. The grocery store was in one of the buildings to the west of the drive-in; not sure about the name of it but Ole’s sounds right to me. In the 1968 aerial there appears to be a temporary off ramp from the grading of I405 onto 124th Ave. I don’t remember that off ramp, but they were always doing stuff over there. The section of 124th immediately north of Mockingbird Hill was closed with dirt barricades for what seemed like years around that time – into the early 70s perhaps – I learned to ride a bicycle on that closed road. That area was swamp, and there used to thousands of frogs that you would hear at night. The area between Newport HS and Factoria Square was woods and there used to be a stream there; I wonder if it still exists in some form. Maybe it was just a drainage area. Correction to my previous post: I meant Kennydale hill when I typed Kinney hill. Ah, memories.

    Comment by M Johnson — March 8, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

  18. I found a link to this on my daughter Jana’s site. There was nothing where the Nordstrom’s Rack is now, except that the Pizza Haven building was a bit to the north of that area. It is on former parking lot space.
    I too remember both from living in Eastgate and then Woodridge the bog with hundreds of red winged blackbirds and their distinct calls – while perching on bull rushes and that had to have been into the mid-70’s – Jana has forgotten that she went up with her Dad and I in a Cessna to photograph brand new Mervyn’s for the company. The old restaurant on the south east corner [Billy McH's] is reinvented as Ricardo’s Mexican, and is very nice – ate there after a Handbell Choir retreat with about 9 others in November 2010, and it was fun to see the layout of rooms is the same but nicely re-decorated.

    Comment by Beverley Hawes — January 8, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

  19. Thank you for the Factoria information. It seems there isn’t a whole lot out there on this area. I mentioned some of my memories here http://jana-treeclimber.blogspot.com/2011/01/factoria.html

    Comment by Jana — February 5, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  20. I’ve posted some aerials of Factoria taken in 1987 and 1988 if you’re interested http://jana-treeclimber.blogspot.com/2012/11/factoria-square-1987-1988.html

    Comment by Jana — December 1, 2012 @ 9:05 am

  21. Here are some interior Factoria Square shots March 1987 http://jana-treeclimber.blogspot.com/2013/03/factoria-square-march-1987.html

    Comment by Jana — March 11, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  22. Link exchange is nothing else except it is just placing the
    other person’s weblog link on your page at suitable place and other person will also do similar for you.

    Comment by Douglas — April 9, 2013 @ 7:04 am


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