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.
- 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.