Among the malls found in the Seattle area, Westfield Southcenter (more commonly known by its previous name of Southcenter Mall) in Tukwila is one of the largest and busiest in the area. Originally opened in 1968, much of the mall’s original 1960s architecture remains surprisingly intact, particularly on the distinctive ceilings in the mall’s corridors, and on the exterior architecture of the JCPenney and Macy’s (formerly Bon Marche) stores. The Malls of America Blog (which, unfortunately, seems to have stopped being updated about a year ago) has several vintage photos of the mallin earlier days, and aside from a much smaller Nordstrom Best store than the current 2-story Nordstrom that is there now, the Fredrick and Nelson store being replaced by a Sears, and some changes to the signs, much of the mall looks the same today as it did back in the Sixties.
In an effort to solidify their position as the largest shopping mall in Washington, an ambitious new expansion to the mall has been under construction for the past couple of years now, adding 75 new stores, a completely new food court, and a 16-screen cinema, as well as a pair of new parking garages which opened some time ago. Thankfully, the expansion to Southcenter has left the classic details of the old mall almost entirely intact, with only the old food court being demolished to make room. By choosing to expand the indoor mall, Westfield has decided to buck the trend toward moving outdoors, as seen at Northgate and Alderwood malls, and soon to be seen at Totem Lake and Factoria.
I was here on Saturday, and found that the new AMC theater at Southcenter is already open, which allowed an opportunity to take a sneak peek of the new Southcenter. There was a roped-off corridor between the old mall entrance across from the Macy’s and the theater, and the atrium entrance was also open at the time. I took the photos of the exterior you see above, but didn’t take any photos of the interior since there was a lot that was still unfinished when I was there, and I don’t think there was much to see but a bunch of undressed mannequins at the time. I also noticed that there were a number of stores from the old mall which were in the process of packing up and moving into new spaces, although it appeared that the new areas were being occupied mostly by new tenants.
The Ribbon-cutting on the Southcenter expansion is set to take place on Friday morning, and once it does, I’ll be sure to head over and check it out. If all goes well, I am also looking at putting together the profile for Southcenter sometime in the near future.