The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 7, 2008

Crossroads Research Update: Some questions, and a Look at the Mighty MB

Filed under: Bellevue, Malls — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:04 am

(Crossroads Shopping Center logo, 1963.  The “Globe” portion of the logo was in use at least until the late Seventies.)

First of all, thanks to everyone for their comments on my original Crossroads Mall post, as well as some comments on Crossroads that have leaked into some of my other mall posts.  They have been helpful as I try to dig into some of the history of this mall.  So far, I haven’t found a whole lot on my own, but I have been able to determine the following:

  • The Crossroads Shopping Center originally opened in early December of 1963, although only a small portion of the mall and the current Michaels store was completed at the time (more on this below.)
  • At the time the mall opened, there were only 11 stores (which was reasonable given the small space) and more came later as further construction was completed, although I have not yet found anything on when the rest of the mall was built.  If you look on the side of the building above the outside entrance of the Silver Platters store you can see “1967” which would presumably indicate when that section of the building was completed.
  • The Ernst store was located where the Circuit City is now, although I haven’t determined a timeframe for when it was around.
  • The original Crossroads Twim theater was apparently located where the QFC store is found now.
  • There was an ice rink at Crossroads for a number of years (I have found references to it in newspapers from 1972.)
  • In its declining years, Crossroads became something of a teen hangout, and attracted troublemakers.  The medians in the parking lot were installed by Terranomics shortly after they took over the mall to dissuade cruising.

Of course, I have a lot more questions than I have answers at this point, so here are some of the things I would like to know:

  • Where exactly was the Marketime/Fred Meyer store?  I would assume that the former became the latter when they merged in the Seventies.  I have actually seen ads from the 1977 Journal American that showed both the Crossroads and the (current) Overlake Fred Meyer stores operating at the same time, but I’d guess they closed the Crossroads soon after that due to the redundancy.  Some of the comments here put this in the current Bartell Drugs location, but given the fact that Bartell Drugs has moved relatively recently, does this mean the now former Bartell location inside Crossroads itself that is now Shoe Pavilion, or the one kitty-corner from the mall where the Albertsons used to be?
  • How long was the Market Basket store around for?  It was there when the mall opened (it turns out there were only about 11 stores at the time, and only the area where the Michaels and the Old Navy/Bed Bath and Beyond stores currently reside were completed originally, with the rest coming later.) 
  • Where was the ice rink, and how long did it operate for?

Speaking of Market Basket, aside from what’s in the papers (mostly ads) I’m drawing a blank on this one.  Searching on Wikipedia shows a couple of unrelated current chains in Texas and New England with the name, but little on this iteration.  By any chance, could this be related to the former California based chain of the same name that lasted until some time in the Eighties (which later became owned by Kroger)?    I seem to recall seeing something somewhere that indicated that they were actually an offshoot of Marketime, but I can’t determine where I might have seen that.  Whatever the story is here, it looks like this particular chain was gone fron this area by about 1970 or so,.  Can anyone fill in some of the blanks here? In the meantime, here’s some stuff I found in the paper on Market Basket (Also known as “Mighty MB” from the Crossroads opening in 1963:

A drawing of the new Market Basket store, from the Bellevue American, December 5, 1963.

A photo of the new Market Basket store and the newly opened Crossroads Shopping Center, from the BA, December 12, 1963.

And for comparison, a photo of the Michaels store that resides here today.  You can still vaguely see where the old MB storefront was located, but virtually any signs of the store that used to be here have been long since remodeled into oblivion.

Incidentally, I love this logo, which was used in a number of different variants throughout their ads.  Sure, they might have been ripping off the A&P logo to some extent (and yes, there were actually A&P stores in the area at the time,) but for something done in simple line art, this is surprisingly effective, and just has an elegance to it that you don’t see anymore.

As usual, anything that people can contribute to help fill in the blanks on my research would be greatly appreciated.  In the meantime, I will be putting together part 2 of my Crossroads profile covering the stores and the restaurants sometime within the next week or two.

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May 26, 2008

A Tour of Crossroads Bellevue – Part 1: The Mall

Filed under: Bellevue, Malls, shopping — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:28 am

Note:  This is the third in an ongoing series of posts profiling the shopping malls found in the Seattle area.  The previous posts in this series can be found below:

For those of you out there who have been wondering when I would get around to actually finishing up my profile of Crossroads in Bellevue, rest assured that I have actually been working on this for some time now.  The main reason that I have delayed this is that I have not been able to settle on an appropriate format for this.  Crossroads is a very different place from the two malls that I have previously profiled on the site, and just taking a few photos and putting them up with some comments (as I have done previously) would not do the place justice.  Because of this, I have decided that a better approach would be to split this up into four parts, since there is a lot of material to cover here.  Tentatively, this is how I plan to do this:

  • Part 1: The Mall (this post)
  • Part 2: The Stores and the Restaurants
  • Part 3: What’s the Secret?  (What is it that has allowed Crossroads to succeed where other malls have failed?)
  • Part 4:  A History of Crossroads (I haven’t been able to find a whole lot of info on this yet; any help that could be provided would be appreciated here.)

In many ways, the story of Crossroads Mall is similar to that of the Totem Lake and Factoria Malls.  All three are relatively small malls designed for a similar mix of stores (although Crossroads is about a decade older than Totem Lake and fifteen years older than Factoria,) and all have faced similar challenges.  There is one major difference that distinguishes Crossroads though:  Where other similar malls in the area have foundered and failed, Crossroads has thrived, witha low vacancy rate and a strong base of shoppers.  This has not always been the case though.  When the current ownership took over the Crossroads Mall in 1985, it was largely vacant and considered to be a failed shopping center.  Since that time, a unique approach to retail has evolved Crossroads into something that is less of a conventional shopping mall and more of a gathering place for the community that just happens to be located in a mall, with a unique mix of tenants you won’t find anywhere else.  If you’re looking for designer label fashions, high-end housewares and four-star cuisine, Crossroads isn’t the place to look.  On the other hand if you’re looking for unique yet affordable food, stuff to do and a place to spend a Friday evening without breaking the bank, Crossroads is the place to go on the Eastside.  In this series of posts we will take a look at Crossroads, and what has made it a success where other malls have failed.  After the jump, a tour of the Crossroads Mall property. 

(Please note that this post contains a lot of pictures, and it may take some time to load if you are on a slower Internet connection.)

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