The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 27, 2009

She Said Just One Word To Me…

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 2:05 am

As she walked slowly down the dusty sidewalk, it was almost impossible not to notice her as she approached.  Even in a city as fashion-conscious as this one, her outfit would be considered to be over the top.  I’m not sure if it was the meticulously styled short blond hair that caught my attention, or if it was the huge thick-rimmed designer sunglasses that covered most of her face.  Whatever it was that caught my eye, once  I set eyes on her, it was difficult not to stare at the huge white frill at the front the sultry black dress she was wearing.  Yes, even for this classy part of town, she seemed just a tad overdressed.

It felt awkward enough already to find myself staring at her from a distance well outside of her eyesight, but for some unknown reason, I found myself oddly compelled to talk to her, but I couldn’t quite seem to figure out why.  Almost unconsciously, I found myself walking in her direction as she passed by and walked away.  Surprisingly, for someone wearing a pair of tall (and presumably expensive) high heels on an uneven city sidewalk, she was walking surprisingly fast.  In fact, I found myself almost straining just to keep up with her and to catch up.  And I didn’t even know why I was trying to do so in the first place, just that there was some sort of attraction that I could not fully comprehend.

It took several blocks of walking before I began to catch up to her as she walked, still completely oblivious to my presence.  Just as I thought I would finally catch up to her, I got caught on the wrong side of the crosswalk as the stoplight changed, and once again she was getting away from me.  At this point, I had a moment to contemplate why it was that I had begun following her in the first place.  Was I somehow attracted to her, unattainable though she may be?  Was there some reason as yet unknown to me that I had to meet with her one way or another?  Or was I just merely curious about how it was that she could be walking around town in such fancy clothing?  Although I found myself unable to resolve these questions, I felt oddly compelled to keep going.  Just as the light prepared to change again, I saw her turn a corner, going out of sight.  When the walk sign appeared, I continued what I briefly feared to be a futile pursuit, trying to walk as quickly as I could without breaking into a run, which I felt might attract undue attention.  As I reached the corner, I caught sight of her unmistakable black dress once again, still walking down the street apparently oblivious to the world around her.

With a brief unconscious sigh of something that vaguely resembled relief I continued to follow her, and began to catch up to her again just as she walked through a crowd of people walking in the other direction and milling about at a bus stop.  As she navigated daintily through the throngs of people, she slowed her brisk walking pace down just enough that I was able to finally reach her.  At this point I still did not know why it was that I had followed after her, but I knew that in order to answer to whatever had compelled me on this fool’s errand, I would have to get her attention somehow.  I summoned up whatever courage I could muster and tried to act casual in order to at least attempt to not look  like I had been following her for six blocks (or was it eight?  I hadn’t been paying attention.)  Finally, I tapped gently on her shoulder.

In one seemingly effortless motion that showed not even the faintest visible hint of surprise, she turned her head slowly toward me.  For just a brief moment she looked at me with an expression that I could not see through those thick sunglasses, and then she said just one word to me…

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February 26, 2009

Disney World Trip Report, Part 5: The Disney Version of Christmas

Filed under: Wanderings — Brian Lutz @ 8:12 pm

Note:  If you missed them, the previous installments of the Trip Report may be found here:

Part 1: Getting There is Half the Fun, Right? (Traveling to Orlando and fleeing from the snow and ice in Seattle)
Part 2: Now with Actual Disney in it! (The Hotel Room, and the beginning of day 1 in the Magic Kingdom)
Part 3: Just Another Day in Never Never Land (The rest of Day 1, in which dreams purportedly come true if you sing about them for long enough)
Part 4: It’s the FUTURE! (Sort of.) (Day 2 begins in Epcot, with a trip halfway around the world in 180 minutes)

Yes, in spite of all appearances, I am in fact still working on this trip report.  At this rate, I’ll probably be finished with this somewhere around this time next year ot so (actually, that’s probably nottrue since this installment will put me roughly halfway through the trip, but when have I ever passed up an opportunity to take way too long to finish things?)   If for some reason you’ve actually been reading this stuff, you’ll recall that when I last left off, I had spent the first part of the day at Epcot first going through (most of the Future World rides, then spent several hours wandering about halfway around the World Showcase portion of that park.  As it was beginning to get later in the afternoon, it was now time to head back over to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (hereafter abbreviated as MVMCP so I don’t have to type that out half a zillion times or so.)  It is from that point that I will begin this installment of the trip report, found after the jump.

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Recycled Newspaper: Redmond Gets a Free Golf Course, a Dangerous Curve, and a Shotgun Wedding

Filed under: History, Recycled Newspaper, Redmond — Brian Lutz @ 12:48 am

Last week I began what I am hoping to turn into a regular feature on this Blog; a look at some of the stores I run across in my research through the newspaper archives available on microfilm at the Bellevue Library.  For this week, I originally intended to follow up last week’s look at the newspapers from 50 years ago with a look at the Journal-American  from 25 years ago, but quite frankly, it was boring.  In 1977, the Bellevue American and the East Side Journal (Bellevue and Kirkland’s respective weekly papers) merged to form the Journal-American, which was published daily and began covering world and national news, which seems to have relegated much of the local news to the back pages.  On this particular day in 1984 most of the headlines seemed to have been focused on the presidential primaries (Spoiler alert: Reagan won,) the beginning of Konstantin Chernenko‘s short term as the leader of the Soviet Union (his most notworthy accomplishment seems to have been a retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics after the US boycotted the 1980 games in Moscow,) and stories about the Mariners’ Spring Training on the sports page.  Since there wasn’t really much of interest in the Journal-American, I decided to take a look in the library’s fragmented collection of Redmond’s Sammamish Valley News to see what I could find, and I ended up landing in the February 24th, 1966 edition. 

At this time, Redmond was a small but growing community,still based largely on farming, but with designs on bigger and better things.  Microsoft was still 20 years away (the company’s move to its Redmond campus happened in February of 1986) but a plan was in the works to turn what was then undeveloped land into a major regional shopping mall known as Maingate (this plan, which would have covered much of what is now downtown Redmond, obviously never came to fruition) and the town was definitely growing.  After the jump, a look at some of the stories from the February 24th, 1966 edition of the Sammamish Valley News.

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February 24, 2009

Authenticity is a Relative Thing

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 6:21 pm

Among the various clothing manufacturers out there (especially when it comes to jeans) there seems to be some notion that the products being sold have to be somehow “Authentic” in order to get people to actually buy them.  The whole idea of authenticity when it comes to clothing seems to be just a bit nebulous, all things considered.  For the brands that have been around for a long time (such as Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler) this isn’t really a problem, since there’s plenty of history behind them.  On the other hand, when you don’t have that kind of heritage to trade on, it seems to become necessary to make one up as you go along.  To illustrate this, I would like to show a couple of examples of this that I have run across recently. 

First of all, we look at an example  from the American Living Co. brand, which appears to be a JCPenney house brand. Lately, it seems that this brand is being applied widely throughout the store, on everything from jeans, clothing and shoes to luggage, housewares to dishes.  As seems to be customary for such a brand, the logo is done in a somewhat antiquated style, and seems to be trying to cash in on a patriotic and classical image which, upon further inspection, seems just a bit undeserved.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the “Established MMVII” so proudly emblazoned on the label is basically a fancy way of saying that the brand was established in 2007, giving them a rich tradition of about a year and a half to draw on for inspiration in designing their clothing.  The other clue comes when you look more closely at the tags (which were fairly well hidden) and find that these jeans are actually made in Vietnam, and an American Living polo shirt I recently purchased (off the clearance rack for $5.97) was made in Jordan of all places.  This isn’t to say that they’re the only one doing this type of thing.  I seriously doubt that anyone is actually manufacturing their jeans in America anymore, since even the Levi’s I’m wearing while I’m writing this were made in Bangladesh.  I suppose the name “American Living” still sounds a lot better than “Vietnamese Living” would, even if when you dig down beneath the surface the whole thing begins to seem about as authentic as a three dollar bill.

As a counter example, I present Costco’s Kirkland Signature jeans:

Anyone who shops at Costco is probably quite familiar with the Kirkland Signature brand, which is used even more broadly throughout the store than the American Living brand is at JCPenney, applied to practically everything from orange juice to major appliances (for quite a few years until they remodeled about a year and a half ago, my parents had a “Kirkland Signature by Whirlpool” branded stove in their kitchen.)  For quite a while, Costco has sold blue jeans under the brand as well.  Unlike the ersatz patriotic image of the American Living jeans shown above, these jeans don’t even pretend to be anything besides what they’re supposed to be, which is, well,  cheap.  A pair of Kirkland Signature jeans sells for $12.99, a price you’re going to be hard-pressed to beat anywhere this side of the closeout rack.  They also acknowledge right on the label that these are made in Mexico (it’s a bit hard to see in this photo,) although I have heard (but can’t confirm) that there are also some made in Canada as well.  The couple of pairs of these that I have owned over the years have also held up reasonably well, although they’re obviously nothing particularly fancy (if you’re looking for those, Costco does sell several premium brands of jeans as well, including Lucky Brand, Levis  and Calvin Klein, but as with everything else there that you aren’t necessarily buying in humongous quantities, selection can be hit or miss.)

Even though these jeans are being sold under the same brand name as the milk you’re buying two gallons at a time, in an apparent nod to the vagaries of clothing merchandising the label includes the obligatory year of establishment (in this case 1994) and proclaims the product it has been stuck on to be authentic, almost as though there was some problem with cheap imitations or something like that that.  Quite frankly, I don’t even know how you could make a cheap imitation of a product that sells for $12.99 in the first place, but that’s beside the point.  The question that it boils down to is this:  Of these two brands, which of them would you consider to be more authentic?

February 19, 2009

Recycled Newspaper: 50 Years Ago Today on the Eastside

Filed under: Bellevue, History, Kirkland, Recycled Newspaper — Brian Lutz @ 1:05 am

As you probably know if you’ve been reading this Blog, there is a lot of interesting information that can be found in microfilmed newspaper archives available at the Bellevue library, where complete archives of the East Side Journal and Bellevue American dating back as far as those papers were published are available (and incomplete archives of a number of other local papers are available as well.)  Although most of my research in the archives thus far has been focused specifically on particular topics, this is the first of what should hopefully become a regular (or irregular, given my tendency toward dubious punctuality) series of posts on this Blog taking a look at what was in the local papers on a particular day (or as close as I can get to it anyway) in the past.  To start off with, I am looking at what was going on 50 years ago on this date, which not only provides a nice round number, but is also convenient because the days on the calendar in 1959 match those of 2009.  I am also taking these stores primarily from the East Side Journal (at least for now) because the early 1959 microfilm for the Bellevue American is of poor quality and difficult to read, much less take useful photos from.  I’m also probably not going to spend a lot of time on big headlines, and I’ll probably be looking mostly at some of the smaller stories in the paper and the advertisements, which I find more interesting (besides, until the Journal-American was formed in 1977 none of these papers provided much coverage outside of the local area, presumably leaving the rest to the Seattle Times and the P-I to cover.)

To start off with, here are a few stories from the February 19th, 1959 edition of the East Side Journal.  On the front page buried in between a couple of stories about budgets and an accident involving a fuel truck was this story on telephone rate increases:

In a nutshell, it sounds like the phone company got smacked down pretty hard by the utilities commission on their proposed rate increases, with approved increases nowhere near the levels requested.  I suppose putting 10 people on a single line isn’t a great way to win many friends in the community or on the utilities commission.  Even so, I bet we all wish that phone service was that cheap these days.  At least the days are long since past where we’re having to share our telephones with the neighbors in order to even get service (the prevalence of high numbers of people on party lines due to lack of capacity is cited in the article as a frequent complaint by the utilities commission.)  I can recall that in the GTE phonebook as recently as 1996 (possibly even later) there was a section on party line procedures and etiquette, which would seem to indicate that there were still a few in use at that time.  Now with even the landline itself seemingly beginning the long slow descent into obsolescence as wireless phones become ever more entrenched in modern society it’s hard to imagine having to share a phone with your sibling in the next room, much less half the neighborhood.  Not that it stops us from complaining about our telephone service.

From here, the stories get just a bit less earth-shattering. 

Apparently back in those days you could also be practically old enough to drink and still be considered a youth.  It also seems that it didn’t take a whole lot in to get into the newspaper back then.  It’s nice to get some recognition for a good deed, but this begs the question of just how this got from being a letter of praise to one’s employer to getting written up a story in the newspaper.  I wonder if as a reward, John got a set of coveralls with his own name sewn onto them?

Of course, the frivolity doesn’t end there.  It seems that all you needed to do in order to get into the paper these days was go to Mexico for six months and presumably send a postcard back home.  If that’s all it takes to get written up, maybe you could add a PS about that old car you’re trying to sell off and save yourself the cost of a classified ad in the process.  As a side note, the Knights of Pythias, a secret society I have never heard of until now, are still around (and list several dead presidents and vice presidents among their alumni) but do not appear to have a chapter in Washington State anymore. 

To conclude our little trip through the newspapers of a half century ago, I thought I’d put up this picture of the former Bartell Drugs logo that I found in the February 19th, 1959 edition the Bellevue American (one of the few items from that issue I could get a decent picture of from the microfilm.)  Now that’s what you call a good stout logo, the kind that you could drop an A-bomb on (back in those days you had to give consideration to such things) and you’d barely put a dent in the thing.  This logo would end up being replaced just a couple of years after this by the more mundane logo that Bartell Drugs continues to use today.

February 18, 2009

A Not-So-Standard Chevron Station (Updated)

Filed under: Bellevue, History — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:25 pm

Update 2/24/09:  Added a bit more info on the Standard station shown in the 1969 photo below based on information available at historicaerials.com.

For better or for worse, putting gasoline in our cars is a common everyday task, and aside from occasional brand loyalty or trying to find a place that’s a bit cheaper than the others, we tend to rarely give much thought to the gas station itself.  On the other hand, if you live or work in the Eastgate area of Bellevue, you may have noticed something just a bit odd about the Chevron station at 150th Ave. SE and SE 38th.  Specifically, you may have noticed that the station’s signage bears the Standard label in place of the usual Chevron branding. 

In fact, when this particular station got a recent update to the design package for a Chevron station, the Standard name, which has been out of general use since the mid 1980s, remained.   In fact, this is the only station in Washington to bear the Standard name, and serves the purpose of keeping the name in use in order to ensure that they retain the rights to the name, and to ensure that the trademarks cannot be usurped by another company.  A couple of years ago, Albertson’s learned a painful lesson on the subject when after purchasing the parent company of the Lucky chain of grocery stores (which used to have stores in the Seattle area during the early-to-mid 1980s, including locations at Southcenter Mall and Crossroads,) they then converted all of those stores to Albertson’s.  In 2006, Grocery Outlet (a smaller chain based out of Berkeley California which has a handful of stores in the Puget Sound area) attempted to rebrand one of its stores to the Lucky name, claiming that Albertson’s had abandoned the trademark.  Albertson’s was forced to reclaim the trademark through litigation, and soon afterwards a number of Albertson’s stores were converted back to the Lucky name, mostly in California.  Grocery Outlet continues to dispute their claim to the trademark.

This 1997 brochure published by Chevron (image originally posted on the Groceteria.com forum by Wayne Henderson, who published a book on the history of Standard Oil and its various splinter companies) briefly explains this, although some of these locations may now be out of date.  Each state that Chevron operates in has one station that is branded as Standard, but is otherwise no different from a regular Chevron station.  In fact, at the one in Bellevue the Standard name appears only on the signage, and the Chevron name appears everywhere else including on the gas pumps.

For those of you who have lived around here for a while, the Standard brand is nothing new.  The Chevron brand was first established after World War 2 by the Standard Oil Company of California (abbreviated alternately as either SOCAL at CALSO at different times and places,) one of the splinter companies that was formed in the wake of the 1911 antitrust breakup of the Standard Oil Company.  Others included Standard Oil of Kentucky (KYSO, which eventually merged with SOCAL) and Standard Oil of New Jersy, which previously sold gas primarily under the Esso brand, but became Exxon in the 1970s after several trademark disputes, and is now ExxonMobil.  During the breakup, each of the splinter companies was given rights to use the Standard Oil name within a specif ed geographic area, although there have been a number of disputes over territory and trademarks along the way.  For more information on the rather complicated history of these Standard Oil splinter companies, see this thread on the Groceteria forum for several interesting posts on the topic.

Here on the Eastside, Chevron and Standard branded stations operated simultaneously up until all were consolidated under the Chevron name in the 80s (with the exception of the Eastgate station, as seen above.)  The Standard name was applied to corporate-owned stations (but the gasoline sold still bore the Chevron brand) while independently owned and operated stations operated under the Chevron brand directly. Among the portion of the Eastside Heritage Center’s photo archives that has been made available available online, there are examples of both Standard and Chevron stations in Bellevue during the mid-to-late sixties (as well as some even older ones,) which you can find after the jump.

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February 16, 2009

Disney World Trip Report – Part 4: It’s the Future! (Sort of.)

Filed under: Wanderings — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 9:21 pm

Note:  If you missed them, the previous installments of the Trip Report may be found here:

Part 1: Getting There is Half the Fun, Right? (Traveling to Orlando and fleeing from the snow and ice in Seattle)
Part 2: Now with Actual Disney in it! (The Hotel Room, and the beginning of day 1 in the Magic Kingdom)
Part 3: Just Another Day in Never Never Land (The rest of Day 1, in which dreams purportedly come true if you sing about them for long enough)

Also note that I am writing this trip report in installments on the DISBoards, and then compiling 2 or 3 parts of it at a time into the posts you see here, with added info to make this more suited for a more general audience than the audience of Disney junkies on that board.  If you don’t mind wading through a bunch of acronyms, you might be able to find new installments posted over there on the following thread before they’re on this Blog:

Fleeing From a Winter Wonderland – A First Timer’s Disney Christmas


When I last left off on my Disney World trip report, I had spent the first day of my trip in the Magic Kingdom, a wonderful magical place where parades come down the street every day, fireworks shoot through the air every night, and if you aren’t careful you could very well end up listening to the same blasted song over and over until your brain tries to crawl out of your head.  So what to do for an encore the next day?  Well, I can start by doing what I was supposed to do in the first place yesterday and go to Epcot.  Then in the afternoon and evening it would be time for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, a so-called “hard ticket” event in which the park closes at 7pm for the regular guests and admission is limited to those who purchase the separate tickets (although event ticket holders can get in after 3pm on their MVMCP tickets without the need to use a  regular ticket.  In addition to a (theoretically) smaller crowd in the park, there is also special entertainment, including a special Christmas parade and fireworks.  I’ll discuss this a bit more later on, but for the time being, find the next part of the trip report, complete with a bunch of images,  after the jump.

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February 10, 2009

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2009: More Great Ways to Spend Your Valentine’s Night Sleeping on the Couch

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 4:15 pm

I think that over the course of my several posts on the subject, I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s day.  Part of this is that I don’t think I’ve ever engaged in any significant observance of the holiday since I made it out of fourth grade, but part of it is that with all the kitschy, cheesy and/or downright questionable Valentine’s Day merchandise out there these days, it seems harder than ever to find something that’s actually meaningful.  If, on the other hand, you’re feeling noncommittal, lukewarm or downright cynical about the whole thing, there’s no shortage of bad Valentine’s Day gift ideas out there.

Before I go too much further, I should emphasize that the items I have found here are much more the exceptions than the rule.  Most of the Valentine’s Day merchandise available out there is fairly reasonable, or at least inoffensive.  This is, of course, not a bad thing when you’re dealing with third graders, but if you’re in the situation of trying to win someone’s undying love and affection, you might need to set your sights just a bit higher than inoffensive (You’re probably also going to need a lot more than a heart-shaped box of chocolates, but that falls outside the scope of this article.)  In most cases, using a little bit of common sense should be more than sufficient to keep you out of trouble.  The problem is that there are also a surprising number of items out there that would NEVER make a good Valentine’s Day present under any circumstances.  For the purposes of this roundup, we will be sticking to merchandise found within mainstream retail stores, where the vast majority of items on offer are family-friendly, although as you’ll find, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all are necessarily in good taste.  After the jump, a look at some of the not-so-great Valentine’s Day gifts on offer this year.

If you missed last year’s post, you may also find it here:

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February 7, 2009

Here’s What Death By Chocolate Looks Like

Filed under: Food — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 3:11 pm

For those of you who might have read my article last week providing an in-depth look at what’s hiding behind all the chocolate coating of the Whitman’s Sampler, I have to confess something about that particular article:  I can hardly stand to look at it right now.  This isn’t because of anything particularly wrong with the article itself (at least not that I know of, I haven’t bothered to go back and proofread it again after posting,) but as I would find out a few hours after I finished it, I was in the process of coming down with the stomach flu while I was finishing it up and writing the part about all the specific candies.  In order to make sure I knew what I was talking about I had to sample a couple of pieces again, and without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that some of those pieces decided to come back for a special encore presentation around 3am that night, along with most of that evening’s dinner.  It is clear that the candy itself had nothing to do with me getting sick (the Galloping Crud has been going around the family, and it was obviously my turn to get it,)  it’s just a case of bad timing.  Nonetheless, right now I’d have to say that chocolates have fallen a number of spots down my list of my favorite things, at least for the time being.

That said, if you still plan to be getting your current or prospective sweetheart and/or Valentine chocolates for Valentine’s Day, I would strongly recommend that you stick to something reasonable, and avoid overdoing it.  For example, the items below might be considered overdoing it:

To be honest, you’ll probably be hard pressed to even find a heart-shaped box of chocolates that big at most places (I only found one store in town that even carries these sizes,) but in the event that you find yourself tempted to show your affection in quantity rather than quality, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The nutritional information on the Russell Stover chocolate assortment contained in these boxes indicates that a serving of two pieces contains 150 calories, six grams of fat, four grams of saturated fat and 21 grams of carbohydrates.  I didn’t look at the number of servings in the 40-ounce box, but the giant 52-ounce box contains 43 servings, for a total of 6,450 calories.  In the interest of not scaring people off, I’ll leave the other numbers to the reader to figure out if they are so inclined. 
  • These chocolates have a “best before” date of May 1st on them.  If you believe that your Valentine is going to be able to finish off 52-ounces of assorted chocolates before then, go right ahead.  Of course, there’s also the need to find somewhere to store that giant heart-shaped box while it’s in the process of being consumed (the box is practically big enough to take up a whole coffee table by itself.) 
  • At $29.99 for the 40-ounce box and $39.99 for the 52-ounce behemoth, you might be paying too much for the quantity of chocolate on offer.  As you can see above, there are a couple of different 16-ounce assortments on sale for $6.99 apiece, a price that could yield a full 64 ounces of chocolate for $27.96. (your mileage, of course, may vary.)  This way you’ll not only have more chocolate for less money in more manageable packaging, but you’ll also have backups just in case your Valentine doesn’t work out.

So when you’re shopping for your Valentine’s Day gifts this year, be sure to think carefully and weigh all the pros and cons before you make the kind of commitment necessary to bring your Sweetheart a 52-ounce box of chocolates.  After all, the last thing you want is for a box of  Valentine’s Day chocolates to last longer than the relationship does, right?

For more not-so-great Valentine’s Day gift ideas, watch for my second annual Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup post coming later this week, chock full of great new ways to ensure you’ll be spending your Valentine’s Night sleeping on the couch.

February 5, 2009

An Early Look at the New Redmond Center

Filed under: Redmond, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 7:52 pm

Update 3/17/09:  An update on construction (or more accurately, demolition) work at the site can be found at this post:

It seems that I’m not the only person who noticed the sudden disappearance of the Pizza Hut that spent thirty years sitting in front of Redmond Center, and the former physical therapist’s office/Payless Shoe store next door.  As I blogged about last week, construction has now begun on a major redevelopment of the Eastern  half of Redmond Center, which will completely replace a portion of the center originally constructed in 1965 with newly constructed buildings and add a new larger building with space for 5 businesses along Redmond Way.  Now, thanks to Rick Driftmier of The Driftmier Architects and with the generous permission of Nelson Legacy Group (the locally-based owner of the Redmond Center property,) I have been able to find out some new details regarding the redevelopment of Redmond Center, and what Redmond can expect from  the upgraded shopping center.

Over in the comments on the previous post, Mr. Driftmier has posted the following news release regarding the Redmond Center construction:

Construction started on Redmond Center

The remodel of Redmond Center will expand the shopping center and bring an upscale look to the Nelson Legacy Group property. Three buildings on the eastern portion of the site, along 160th Avenue NE and NE Redmond Way, are being demolished. A fourth building is being updated for occupancy to house an integrated pharmacy and another tenant. Nelson Legacy Group has found new spaces for all but one of the existing tenants in either Redmond Center or in other Nelson properties. The Nelsons are working to find a new location for the one remaining tenant.

The design by The Driftmier Architects of Redmond includes two new retail buildings totaling about 30,000 SF of retail restaurant space. The building along Redmond Way will house two new restaurants, a bank and other tenants. The other building on 160thwill bring a specialty grocery store to the center and provide for two more tenants. The first building is expected to open in early fall ‘09, withthe other following a month later.

The Driftmier Architects has received demolition and construction permits for the projects. Woodman Construction of Bellevue has started work on the expansion to the center.

To learn more and see views of the new buildings go to: http://www.driftmier.com/retail/redmond-center.

In further correspondence by e-mail he has also given me permission to repost the renderings available on his site, and some further information on the current Redmond Center tenants being displaced by this redevelopment.

As mentioned in the previous post, Niko Teriyaki (which has occupied Redmond Center for thirteen years) will be moving to a new location as part of this move.  It turns out that they will be one of the two restaurants in the building on Redmond Way (no information on the other one is available at this time.)  At this time, I have no information on where any of the other soon-to-be-displaced businesses in this section of Redmond Center will be relocated to (unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with the other properties owned by Nelson Legacy Group within Redmond,) but it sounds like some of them shouldn’t be moving far.  There is some information that cannot currently be shared due to regulations regarding publically traded companies, but I will be sure to update this if any more information does become available.

Perhaps of more interest is what will be coming to the updated Redmond Center.  According to the site plan on the City of Redmond website, there will be five retail spaces in the new building along Redmond Way, and in addition to the two restaurants there will be a bank, and two other retail spaces for which no specific use has been specified at this time.  Based on the rendering above (this is looking roughly Southward from the location of the QFC) it looks like the bank branch will be at the far end at the corner of 160th and Redmond Way. The small structure at the end looks like it could be a small alcove for an ATM or something similar, but it looks too small to be a drive-thru.  It also appears that this building should be going up fairly quickly, since occupancy is expected by late Summer or early Fall of this year.  Demolition and construction of the other building should be beginning soon, as completion of that construction is expected a month later.

Back in the main shopping center, construction has been underway on the Lakeside Drug / Pharmaca store for some time now.  One detail that I missed until seeing the architectural renderings is that the Pharmaca store has actually reduced its size by half in the process of remodeling, and the space that has been vacated will become another store (as shown on the rendering at the top of the post.)  The future occupant of that store is currently unknown.  What I suspect will be of more interest to most people reading this is what’s over in the corner:

It appears that most of the newly constructed space in the center itself will be occupied by a brand new Trader Joe’s store, a prospect that will surely excite Redmond’s budget-minded foodies.  There are already Trader Joe’s stores in Kirkland (at Totem Lake Mall) and in Bellevue (on 156th a few blocks northof Crossroads)  but from downtown Redmond those stores are both rather distant.  If I’m in the area I might stop in on occasion for a few things (I have to admit a certain weakness for their dark chocolate covered Macadamia nuts) but never find myself going out of my way to shop there.

Of course, with Trader Joe’s moving into Redmond Center, this presents a rather odd scenario:  Two grocery stores in one shopping center.  The QFC at Redmond Center is already a bit of an oddity as is, since it is located a mere three blocks away from another QFC store over at Bella Bottega (which originally opened as an Olson’s but was converted to a QFC when the two chains merged in 1995.)  Both of these QFC stores have been operating simultaneously for nearly fourteen years now, so obviously this arrangement works out, but    Having two grocery stores in one shopping center is nothing new (in fact, in some areas it was fairly common practice up until the 1960s,) but nowit is incredibly rare for a second grocery store to be added to a center with an existing store.  Granted, QFC and Trader Joes will not be directly competing with each other (Trader Joe’s has a much smaller store format and focuses on carrying its own store-brand merchandise rather than mainstream grocery products,) but it will be interesting to see just what kind of effect that Trader Joe’s will have on the QFC store.  In addition to these, there are a couple of other architectural renderings of the project available on the Driftmier Architects website if you would like to see the overall site and the other retail space (currently of unknown use) that will be behind the Trader Joe’s store. 

Once again, I would like to thank Rick Driftmier and Nelson Legacy Group for allowing me to use these renderings and find out more about what is going on here.  In the meantime, I will be sure to keep an eye on the construction here and let you know if I find out any new information.  With all the big property management groups and commercial real estate brokers out there, it’s nice to see someone keeping things local for a change…

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