The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

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:

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…


January 30, 2009

Buy in Ridiculous Quantities and Save

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 10:30 pm

With all the various supermarkets competing with each other around here, it’s no surprise that they’ll often tout their low prices (or in the case of the place I usually end up doing my shopping at, their slightly less horrendous prices than usual, provided you remembered to bring along your sell-your-soul-for-savings card. )  Of course, if they’re selling the stuff cheap they’re going to be trying to make it up on volume, so oftentimes it means they’ll be trying to get you to buy in quantity when they do put things on sale.  One of the more common versions of this is the “10 for $10” sale, which apparently sounds more grandiose than saying each item costs a buck.  Of course, every so often they’ll complicate the heck out of things.  For example, right now they’re running the following sale on Pepsi products:

Buy 2, get 1 free.  Horrendous mangling of a classic logo aside, that’s a deal that’s easy enough to figure out, right?  Over on the Coke side of the aisle, theyre making things a bit more complicated:

That’s 5 12-packs for $14, after some sort of largely superfluous “buy four get one free” deal as long as you buy them all at once.  This means they’ve either got truckloads of the stuff sitting in the backroom that they need to get rid of, or that people won’t have any idea how much it would cost to buy those individually and just toss five into the cart.  Either way, it’s probably a decent deal if you happen to need to stock up on sugar-laden beverages (and actually have somewhere to put all that stuff,) but at the rate I drink soda around here it would literally take me years to go through that much of the stuff.  I’ve still got root beer in the fridge from back when Jones still used corn syrup to make the stuff, to give you some idea of how slowly I go through it.  Of course, if you’d like your sugar buzz in a different form, they can cover you there too:

(Apologies for the blurry photo.) 

Over in the sugar-soaked cereal department you’ll find Cap’n Crunch and Life Cereal for $2.50 a box, or $2.00 a box if you buy 10 (all in one purchase, of course.)  As I’m sure any beleaguered parent out there could probably tell you, ten boxes of Cap’n Crunch is probably just about the last thing you’re going to want to have around the house unless for some reason you actually WANT the kids climbing up the walls for the next month and a half.  For those parents looking for a (very) slightly healthier alternative they provide the option to get a Life (or 10 of them, as the case may be) instead, but even if it’s a bit less sugar-soaked than the alternative, if you’re going to end up buying that much of the stuff  you better hope that Mikey likes it, otherwise you might find yourself eathing the stuff til the cows come home.  And not a moment too soon either, because by theat point you’ll probably have run out of milk.

January 17, 2009

More Pampering Than You Can Possibly Handle

Filed under: Random Stuff, shopping — Brian Lutz @ 12:56 am

One of the things you see in virtually every mall around here (and a lot of the major shopping centers as well) is one or more shops filled with all manner of exquisitely fragranced bath products and lotions that you can usually smell from a hundred yards away.  If you’re a guy, you will most likely avoid these places like the plague unless you have about five minutes to buy a present for some female of the species and haven’t got a clue what to get (although in that case, I suspect that just sleeping on the couch would probably easier.)  In particular, being a bachelor with few visitors to my apartment, I am far more likely to buy my shampoo and other personal grooming products by the half gallon for eight bucks a bottle from the warehouse club than I am to be buying three ounces of the stuff for twelve bucks in a scent that I can’t even pronounce.  Still, apparently there’s enough demand for this stuff that it seems like every mall has at least two or three of the places.  Over at Bellevue Square, there’s another Bath and Body Works store on the way (I could have sworn they had one already, but I must not have been paying attention,) as evidenced by the walls over their future location: 

For those of you who might be better acquainted with the various pampering options available for people more inclined toward luxury than my budget and/or masculinity will allow, I’m sure that the whole ultra-pampering thing sounds pretty nice (even if, being Bath and Body Works, it is pretty much a self-service affair.)  On the other hand, having been raised on low-budget sci-fi, Saturday morning cartoons and junkfood, I’m pretty sure that luxurious spa treatments weren’t the first thing to come to mind when I happened to read that.  Instead, whenever I see that term I keep picturing some sort of  Ultra-Pamperer 6000 contraption straight out of an old Jetsons cartoon that ultimately ends up with Mr. Spacely getting contorted in hilariously painful ways as he loudly fires George for the bazillionth time.  Of course, if you’re raising children, I suspect that “ultra-pampering” just might come with a completely different meaning…

Needless to say, I don’t see myself doing a whole lot of shopping at this place anytime soon.

November 16, 2008

Another Look Into the Old Bellevue Safeway

Filed under: Bellevue, History, shopping — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 11:22 pm


Boys Not Sacked, Girls Just Bag It (Click for a larger version)

 Here’s another interesting item that I came across some time ago when doing research in the microfilmed Bellevue American archives, but my first attempt to get photos came out blurry, so I had to make a second attempt to grab it.  This is an article which came from a November 1969 edition of the Bellevue American (unfortunately, I forgot to note the exact date) talking about three Bellevue High School students who were working as bag girls at the old Safeway in downtown Bellevue.  In this day and age, when we shop at the grocery store we generally don’t give more than a passing thought to who happens to be bagging our groceries at the checkout line, but apparently back in 1969 this task was generally delegated to boys, and it was apparently unusual enough to see girls bagging groceries to warrant a newspaper story.  I don’t know if any of the three girls pictured here are still around the area (and even if they were, I suspect they’d be married with different last names,) but they’d be nearly sixty years old by now. 

The text of the news article these photos came from has been placed after the jump.


November 10, 2008

Whither Totem Lake Mall?

Filed under: History, Kirkland, shopping, Technology — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 4:51 pm

In order to raise awareness of the ongoing plight of the Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland, Rob Butcher of has asked me to put together an article for that site about the mall, its history and its future.  The resulting article has now been posted in three parts over at that site.  This article provides a (somewhat) brief summary of the current state of the mall, its history, and the apparently stalled redevelopment plans to bring the mall back to life.  Hopefully this will help the people who live near this mall to have a better understanding of what is and isn’t going on over there right now, and to take a part in shaping the future of Totem Lake.  Links to these articles can be found below:

The Colorful Past and Unwritten Future of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Mall:

Buy Now, And We Might Throw In An Extra Sock

Filed under: Random Stuff, shopping — Brian Lutz @ 1:19 am

As far as I can tell, there seems to be some sort of sale going on here… Maybe.

Just how many different ways could that be interpreted?  If you buy one, do you get a half shoe off sale? Are you getting one half off shoe when you buy one?  Since the last time I checked you’re generally supposed to buy shoes in pairs, why would you be running a sale on one shoe anyway?  And just in case this wasn’t ambiguous enough already they decided to toss an extra asterisk into the mix without bothering to provide any context, potentially bringing this whole thing to an entirely new level of weasel words.   Of course, given this store’s location and the general trendiness of such merchandise, I suspect that I’d probably still wind up paying three times for a pair of shoes here than I usually would, even if there’s a sale going on here.  And given the signs here, I’m not so sure that there’s actually a sale going on anyway.

November 4, 2008

Anybody Want to Buy a Slightly Used Kmart? (Updated)

Filed under: Bellevue, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:19 am

(Image via Live Search Maps. click for an interactive map)

Update 3/4/2011: A Bellevue Reporter article was published yesterday with new information on redevelopment plans for Kelsey Creek Center and the former KMart store.  According to the article, the former KMart building will be renovated into a health club and an unspecified grocery store.  The renovations are expected to begin soon, with completion planned in time for the 2011 Holiday season  You can find the article on the redevelopment of Kelsey Creek Center  here.

Update 6/9/2010:  The city of Bellevue has agreed to change the zoning regulation that would require daylighting of Kelsey Creek in exchange for mtiigation activities elsewhere on the creek, which may make a redevelopment of this center actually feasible, although it is unclear if there is any specific interest in doing so at this time.  See this post for more details.

Update 11/12/2008:  Based on a different version of the article on the Costco cancellation posted by the Kirkland Reporter (as opposed to the Bellevue Reporter which posted the original article,) it turns out that plans are in fact still in the works for a Redmond Costco on Union Hill Road.  Unfortunately, there are no details to indicate whem we might actually see that happen.  The Kirkland Reporter version of the article with this info can be found here.  Also of note with regards to Costco is the fact that the Kirkland location is trying to get approval to add a gas station (more info on that can be found here.)

If you’ve driven through Bellevue on 148th Avenue Northeast anytime within the last few years, chances are that you’ve probably noticed the former Kmart store at the corner of 148th and Main which at this point has now sat empty for six years.  Although the Kelsey Creek Center which it once anchored seems to be getting along just fine without the store that used to anchor it, it’s hard not to notice the big empty building that takes up a sizable chunk of the property and the large parking lot which sees little use except when the Funtastic Carnival rolls into town for a week or so each year. 

This particular store closed back in 2002 during Kmart’s chapter 11 bankruptcy, but on the rare occasions that I shopped at the store when it was still open I was less than impressed by the place, and everywhere you looked you could find excessive wear and tear that indicated that they were skimping on even the basic maintenance.  At the time, the Overlake Fred Meyer store didn’t look all that great, but it was still in far better shape overall (and a couple of years ago that store got a major interior remodel that made it look a whole lot nicer than it used to.)  Given the choice between this store and one of the nice clean Target stores found scattered throughout the area, it was no surprise that people weren’t shopping here.  A Kmart store up in Everett on Highway 99 which is still operating now doesn’t look a whole lot better.

In the six years since this store closed, there have been a couple of different attempts to utilize the property again, both by Costco.  The frist time around (back in 2003 or so,) Costco had made plans to build a new concept grocery store here, although ultimately those plans never materialized.  In the last year or so, Costco has once again had their eye on this property, proposing to demolish the existing building and replace it with a more standard Costco warehouse, complete with gas station.  Unfortunately, it looks like this plan won’t be happening either, as an article in the Bellevue Reporter today reported that Costco has once again cancelled their plans for this site, apparently citing problems with zoning regulations as the reason.

The main obstacle that is getting in the way of redevelopment of this particular site seems to be Kelsey Creek, from which this site derives its name.  As you can (sort of) see from the photo above, there is a culvert that the stream runs through, which goes under the parking lot.  In the article, it is reported that zoning regulations would have required uncovering the stream in order to redevelop the property, a process which apparently would have proven to be prohibitively expensive.  Although discussions on changing the zoning requirements have apparently been ongoing in the Bellevue City Council, I suspect that current economic conditions may have also contributed to the cancellation of this project.  Costco has also made plans to build a new store in Redmond on Union Hill Road using a portion of the Cadman site, but although the store was originally planned for a Fall 2008 opening, they haven’t lifted a shovel on building that one either.

With Costco apparently out of the picture for this particular site, it appears that once again for the foreseeable future this old Kmart store will remain vacant, at least until a solution to the Kelsey Creek problem (and someone willing to actually deal with it in whatever manner the Bellevue City Council and Kelsey Creek Neighborhood council decide) can be found.  Having a big empty former box store sitting in the middle of what is otherwise a vibrant neighborhood doesn’t really do anybody any good, but with the amount of red tape hanging over the place, I’m not sure what could be done with it.  Anyone got any ideas?

October 4, 2008

The Wages of Zinfandel, Revisited

Filed under: Food, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 11:56 pm

Longtime readers of this Blog (all three of you) might recall a post that I made about a year ago regarding some questionable use of Halloween themed decoration in the wine aisle at the neighborhood grocery store.  Fast forward a year, and sure enough, they’re at it again.

As was the case last year, the wine aisle has once again been dressed up for Halloween.  At least this year they seem to have mostly managed to avoid threatening their customers with eternal punishment for certain wine selections (who knew that pairing red wine with poultry could cost you your soul?) but this year, some of the selections on offer seem to be doing a pretty good job of scaring off the customers on their own.  After the jump, a look at some of this season’s finest wine selections from where angels dare not tread.


September 27, 2008

Are You Looking For Some Hot Stuff?

Filed under: Random Stuff, shopping — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:56 am

These days, it’s not particulary unusual to see Halloween stuff on the shelves at most stores by now, and  it’s not particularly unusual anymore to see it show up before August comes to a close (that’s another post though, which will come eventually.)  At the same time, Christmas merchandise is starting to sneak onto whatever unguarded bit of seasonal aisle shelf space it can manage to sneak into.  Eventually, the stuff is going to practically take over the whole store, but for the time being, it seems content to lay low and wait for Halloween to pass, after which it’ll march in unopposed and stake its claim for the next couple of months, ruling over the toy aisles with an iron fist of holiday glee.  There was a time when the Christmas stuff didn’t show up in the stores until after Thanksgiving, but these days we’re used to spending four whole months out of the year navigating through a maze of brightly lit trees and giant inflatable animatronic reindeer (of Doom) when we head out for our weekly shopping run.  Needless to say, the holidays don’t exactly sneak up on us.

The seasons, on the other hand, generally don’t come and go with a whole lot of fanfare.  Sure, each of the individual seasons comes with its own set of trappings and accessories, but for the most part, these come and go without making too much noise.  That is why it can be just a bit jarring to take a trip to Costco to grab a couple of things to restock the pantry and wandering into a whole aisle full of this stuff:

Sure, we can see the signs of Fall advancing upon the landscape.  The yellowing leaves on the trees and the ground are a bit hard to miss, and the strange equilibrium point in between seasons where you end up using the heater and the air conditioning in your car on the same day has now passed, with the heater more often than not winning out over the AC.  Even so, it can still be just a bit jarring to wander into a random aisle of the store and encounter pallet loads of big fluffy blankets, space heaters and not-so-convincing fake fireplaces.  Yeah, I get the point.  It’s going to get freakin’ cold around here in a couple of months, just like it has for, oh, the last few thousand millenia or so.  It was just a couple of weeks ago that we were still getting highs in the eighties, and even today the weather managed to make a reasonable attempt at reaching the mid seventies in the afternoon.   Right now, it’s still occasionally warm enough to get away with wearing shorts outside, and if you don’t mind, I’ll cling on to the last few crumbling fragments of summer for just a bit longer, OK? 

Actually, I don’t really mind this time of year much.  Sure, the temperatures are going down, the darkness comes sooner, and the typical weather patterns around here have reverted to the usual default of rainy and overcast, but these three things I can deal with.  In general, I find that there are a lot more options available to deal with being too cold than there are for being too hot.  I think my internal temperature might run just a bit on the warm anyway, which makes me a bit more tolerant of colder weather than some people (and on the flip side, a bit more uncomfortable in hot weather.)  Even the earlier darkness doesn’t bug me all that much, since I’ve always been something of a night owl anyway (as the usual timestamps on my Blog posts demonstrate.)  Just don’t ask me what I think of the whole thing when the middle of January rolls around, the temperatures are hovering just north of freezing and Spring is still two months away.  I’ll deal with that part later, although I think it might not be a bad idea to start stockpiling my monthly weather complaint post allowance, just in case.

September 23, 2008

Guaranteed to Bring You More Senior Moments or Your Money Back!

Filed under: Random Stuff, shopping — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 6:44 pm

As regular readers of this site know, the weekly dose of mailbox clogging dead tree spam that hits the mailboxes around here on Tuesdays can frequently be a source of odd productsquestionable special offers or just plain ridiculous products offered for sale at some unbelievable bargain-basement price that you just can’t pass up.  I think this one, which showed up in today’s bolus of tremendous savings, might just take the cake:

That pimply-faced drive-thru clerk won’t stand a chance of “accidentally” forgetting your senior discount with this handsome, comfortable, adjustable fit “Don’t Forget My Senior Discount!” hat (of Doom) on your head!  Never mind the fact that the mere appearance of general oldness is usually sufficient to receive such discounts, or the fact that this product is being marketed to a generation which was largely taught that it is impolite to wear a hat indoors, this hat will (theoretically) pay for itself as you reap the benefits of your golden years.  And all this can be yours for the low price of only $9.95* (or $7.95 each if you buy two or more of the things for some inexplicable reason.  You better stock up just in case you manage to outlive the company selling these, right?)  Order yours today!

*Shipping and Handling not included.  Dignity sold separately.

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