The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 28, 2009

Recycled Newspaper: The Fight Over Evergreen East, and Other Tidbits From 1978

Filed under: Bellevue, History, Malls, Recycled Newspaper, Redmond — Brian Lutz @ 2:31 pm

Although 1978 might seem like a bit of a random choice for a subject for this week’s Recycled Newspaper, the original reason I chose it was because March 21st 1953 was the day that the City of Bellevue was incorporated, and as such, the City’s 25th birthday would fall during that time period.  Before anyone thinks that I have a memory for such useless facts or anything like that, I do have to confess that the only reason I even knew about it was that I had been previously looking through some papers from 1973 and found a couple of things about a 20th birthday celebration for the city going on at Bellevue Square, but the microfilm was too blurry to get any good images from.  This is unfortunate, because it also included a complete map and directory of Bellevue Square at the time which would have been quite useful for my research if not for the fact that it was hardly readable. 

I figured that if there was a party going on for Bellevue’s 20th birthday, then the one for the 25th birthday would be even bigger, right?  Unfortunately, in the Journal-Americans for that week (by 1978, the East Side Journal and Bellevue American had merged together and began publishing six days a week, although there would be no Sunday editions for several years still.) there wasn’t even a mention of the occasion that I could find, much less anything about any civic celebrations that might have resulted from the event.  Even so, I found did find some historically newsworthy articles, particularly in regards to the planned but never constructed Evergreen East mall in what was then an unincorporated area (which later became part of Redmond,) but which eventually got put to use in a manner which is arguably more notable than the proposed shopping mall would have been.  At this point  This, plus a number of other interesting items I came across, will follow after the jump.

Although I do not really know a lot about the proposals for Evergreen East, I do know that the development was proposed by Edward J. DeBartolo, an influential developer who is considered by many to be the father of the suburban shopping mall, and at this time was the owner of the San Francisco 49ers as well (although he later passed control of the team to his son, who was the owner through many of the team’s most successful years.)  Here in the Seattle area, the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation was responsible for the construction of Southcenter Mall in 1968, and the Evergreen East shopping center had been proposed as far back as 1967l.  This, of course, met up with the usual opposition that accompanies such a project, and at this particular time, the City of Bellevue had filed two different lawsuits against DeBartolo, claiming a grading permit issued in 1975 by King County was lacking the appropriate environmental impact statements and was thus invalid.  Other sticking points included questions of jurisdiction (an annexation of the Evergreen East site by Bellevue was proposed several years earlier but never happened, and eventually the land went to Redmond) and the size of the proposed mall.  At this time, the DeBartolo Corporation was attempting to settle the lawsuits by providing $800,000 for infrastructure costs, but the city was refusing to settle the lawsuit, which was one of many that had been filed against the development.

Journal-American, 3-29-78, Page A1

(Note:  Due to the sizes of several of these articles, I have posted them in reduced size here.  You can click on them for a larger version.)

For their part, the City of Bellevue was attempting to reduce the size of the proposed development, and seemed to be appealing the permits which had been issued mostly on technicalities at this point, which seems more like an attempt to stall things and run the proverbial clock than anything.  For their part, in spite of their attempts to settle the lawsuits, the DeBartolo Corporation representative quoted in the article makes it clear that they are in no mood to compromise, saying that they believe the market should determine the size of the development, and they believed that the market on the Eastside called for a five-anchor mall.  Toward the end of the article there are some details on the lawsuit that had been filed by the city of Bellevue against the development, which indicate that a decision was to be made on June 1st of that year.  I didn’t get a chance to go that far into the archives to determine the outcome.

Journal-American, 3-27-78, Page A7

For their part, the DeBartolo Corporation’s spokesperson Robert Schreiber had published an editorial several days earlier that, to be honest, probably did more to put off people than to win support.  He starts out by basically insisting that the whole thing was inevitable, and that people just need to get out of the way and let it happen.  He then goes on to cite the usual arbitrary figures, stating that the city had already “lost” $2 million in tax revenues as a result of their constant delays and appeals, and then goes on to explain in assorted corporate jargon some of the efforts they have made to settle the various lawsuits and appeals.  Finally, the article ends with even more threats, implying that the city will continue to lose revenue if the development goes elsewhere.  I’m guessing that someone over ad DeBartolo forgot to read their copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People before penning this one.  Of course, in spite of the sense of arrogant inevitability evident in this piece, the distinct lack of a 5-anchor mall sitting next to Bel-Red Road seems to indicate that the Evergreen East proposal was ultimately doomed to failure.  I still need to go back and try to sort out the entire history of the proposal, but from what I have read, the project did actually get as far as clearing and grading the land before it was ultimately abandoned.  Eventually the land found a new use, and early in 1986, the now abandoned site of the proposed Evergreen East development became the new home of Microsoft, starting with four buildings situated around a small pond unofficially known as “Lake Bill,” but has now grown to over 60 different buildings on both sides of 520, and continues to expand (although ongoing long-term expansion plans have been put on hold due to the current Recession.) 

Sensing the ongoing opposition to the plan and seeing a distinct possibility that it might ultimately fail, DeBartolo was already looking at alternate plans, and a couple of days after the previous articles were published, another article on the front page gave some insight into their Plan B:

Journal-American, 3-30-78, Page A1

Journal-American, 3-30-78, Page A1

The above article continued

 

 Although I can’t be entirely certain of this, this article might be the first to bring up the possibility of the old Redmond Golf Course becoming the site for a mall.  At this point, the DeBartolo Corporation seems to believe that Redmond might prove to be a more friendly venue than Bellevue for their proposed development, and the golf course at the edge of downtown Redmond (which was at that time also unincorporated land) was considered one of the few commercial sites available that was large enough for the purpose (if you’ll recall the Recycled Newspaper post from a few weeks ago, Bellevue ended up having to build their municipal golf course outside of their city limits back in 1965 because they had run out of space suitable for the purpose within Bellevue itself,) and that the land had a high value because of it (the article discusses a $100,000 pricetag on an option to purchase the golf course from its owners.)  Although DeBartolo seemed to think that moving his proposed development to Redmond would make things easier, ultimately he would be proven wrong.  Although I have yet to try to sort through all the history involved (as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a big thick binder full of papers at the Redmond Historical Society on the topic I’m going to have to slog through at some point, and I’m not looking forward to it,) this project did ultimately come to fruition in the form of Redmond Town Center, but it would take nearly twenty years and major compromises in order to get it to happen.  The end result, of course, is nothing like the five-anchor mall that was originally envisioned at the Evergreen East site.  The article does also make mention of building a golf course in the Sammamish Valley to replace the Redmond Golf Course on which Town Center was eventually built (although at the time construction had began the course had been abandoned for many years already.)  Although I can’t be sure whether or not it was related, the course was eventually built, and eventually became three courses, which now comprise the Willows Run Golf Complex.  For its part, Bellevuedid ultimately end up with its five-anchor mall as Bellevue Square was converted from an outdoor shopping center to an indoor mall in the early Eighties, although after the Mall’s Fredrick & Nelson store closed in 1992 it was converted into smaller stores (the former basement level of this store was converted into the Bon MarcheHome Store, and remains as such today, albeit with the Macy’s name.)

Elsewhere on the Eastside, a new shoe store was being opened at Crossroads by noted runner Gerry Lindgren.  Lindgren was a Spokane native who had made a name for himself in medium distance running in high school and college (a 4:00.1  mile he ran in high school still stands today as the state record, and he also holds the state record for the 2 mile run as well.)  He also made an appearance in the Olympics in 1964 in the 10,000 meter event, but only managed to finish ninth due to an injury.  By this time, Gerry’s prime was past, but he continued to be active in the sport.  In fact according to his website  (which seems to be somewhat outdated at this point) he continues to train runners in Hawaii, and continues to run himself.  Back around this time in 1978, he had set his sights on his new shoe store:

Journal-American, 3-29-78, Crossroads Courier supplement

Good idea on the shoe store, but to be honest, I’m not so sure if I’d want to be shopping (or even going anywhere near for any length of time) a store named the Stinky Foot.  Sure, back in the Seventies you could probably get away with that type of thing, but I think if you tried that today I think they’d send a Hazmat team after you on general principle.  The ad (which ran in the Crossroads Courier supplement that was published intermittently at this point) was also accompanied by an article:

According to the ad, this particular store was next to the Crossroads Cinema, which at this time would have been located in the spot where the Crossroads QFC store is now found.  This would probably have been in one of the outside spaces in this area, possibly in the area now occupied by the Silver Platters store.  I just hope for their sake they had decent ventilation in there…

Finally, this week in 1978 marked the grand opening of the Ernst store in Redmond’s Bear Creek Shopping Center, a store which we had a lovely (or otherwise) view of during the Winter from the back deck of my parents’ house for a couple of years before the company went under and the store closed.  It then sat vacant for several years before being taken over by Linens and Things, which itself has now come and gone, leaving this space vacant once again.  A Home Depot store would also eventually be built on the other side of 520 next to the then newly constructed Fred Meyer, but this was several years after Ernst was gone.  In spite of the relative lack of smaller home centers and hardware stores these days, there doesn’t seem to be much lamenting over the loss of Ernst.  In my experience, they rarely had what I was looking for when I went, and even if they did finding it might prove to be more trouble than it was worth.  At least they had good popcorn though.

Anyway, that is a quick look at the Eastside around this time in 1978.  Next week, I’ll probably just pick something else at random, unless anyone out there has some particular suggestions they would be interested in finding out more about.

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2 Comments »

  1. Great stuff man! I’ve never been so hooked on a blog!

    Comment by Colin — March 28, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  2. […] the site of what eventually became Microsoft campus (you can find some more info on this on this earlier Blog post,) the beginnings of what eventually became a fifteen-year fight over what eventually became […]

    Pingback by Some Newspaper That Shouldn’t Be Recycled « The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0 — August 19, 2010 @ 11:51 am


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