Business

Totem Lake Malls' redevelopment rumors avert new business | Part 3

While business activity at the Totem Lake Malls has fluctuated throughout the years, key anchors such as My Home Furniture have kept the mall hanging by a thread. A martial arts studio just signed a three-year lease and there’s been talk of a 24 Hour Fitness taking up shop where the CompUSA used to be.

Many would say there has finally been some positive growth. The malls’ property management, Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis Inc., (CBRE) has even put money into its appearance and, according to local businesses, rent at the mall is cheap - especially if business owners help remodel their space.

But businesses are still leery of the malls’ growth due to redevelopment rumors and the property’s lack of vibrancy.

Jamieson Furniture to close

When My Home Furniture and Decor relocated to the malls in July, Jamieson Furniture Gallery, which paid for and shared showroom space with My Home, stayed in the old Costco building location.

“One of the many reasons that I chose not to continue in business with My Home Furniture and Decor and move along with them to Totem Lake (Malls) was because I was advised by the property manager at Totem Lake Malls that the building was outdated and they planned to tear the mall down in 24 months and rebuild a more modern structure,” Jamieson Furniture co-owner Rich Jamieson said.

Malls’ co-owner Coventry Real Estate Advisors did not return a call from the Reporter regarding a potential redevelopment date.

Kirkland City officials said during a recent Totem Lake Conversations event that the current leases for businesses at the malls are “less than 10 years.”

Jamieson plans to stay in the building until the end of December until the city begins work on a  new public safety building.

Jamieson Furniture Gallery is very competitive, he said, because half of their work is custom design. His handcrafted wood furniture is uniquely created by wood imported from Indonesia and designed by Jamieson.

The furniture crafter says he became a designer after he built kilms for a consultant in Indonesia. He says he didn’t care for their designs so he created his own and pitched his ideas. Six years later the firm is still using his ideas.

Jamieson has been a Kirkland resident for almost a decade and says his work has flourished after being away from My Home’s umbrella.

“Business in Bellevue is good,” he said. “We’re selling close to triple than what we were doing before.”

Jamieson opened his new location on Sept. 1 in Bellevue off of Main Street and will be liquidating his pieces at the original spot with special sales going on now and through the holidays.

Relocating to the Totem Lake Malls wasn’t enough for Jamieson Furniture Gallery, along with two new Kirkland businesses - Be One Yoga Studio and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. However, those new businesses have managed to find one sweet spot in the Totem Lake Business District.

Be One Yoga Studio opens

When Be One Yoga Studio co-owners Casey Stewart, Elena Radic and Kami Betker went into the Totem Lake Malls to check the space out they all perceived it as “completely dead.”

But they wanted to keep their business in Kirkland. They chose their current location at 11220 N.E. 124th Street near QFC because of its visibility, ability to stand alone and its natural light.

“We all love Kirkland,” said Stewart. “We have good relationships and are well received in the community.”

The women have been in a two-year process to figure out the logistics and location of their business, Be One Yoga Studio. The studio is set to open Nov. 5.

“We want to offer something better, more complete. Our experiences have shown us the downfalls (of hot yoga studios),” Stewart said.

Be One will specialize in hot yoga and children’s yoga for two years and up. Massage therapy will also be provided by Betker and her husband who are both massage therapists. The trio hope to fill their studio with 10 to 12 yoga instructors and have a goal of 500 new students in their first month.

The yoga studio will share a building with Five Guys Burgers and Fries. They say they have taken precautions for containing the smell of the food but are happy the fast food chain will be joining them.

“We’re hoping it works to our advantage, where people go to eat and then come into our studio,” laughs Betker.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Kirkland resident and Five Guys owner Joe Iraqi agrees.

“(Having a yoga studio next door) is a good combinatio n. We joke and say ‘people can eat the calories and then lose them,” said Iraqi, noting the restaurant is set to open this January.

Iraqi said he chose the location because of its proximity to the freeway and its high visibility. The malls in Totem Lake were not an option, he says, because “there’s not much business there. Everybody was talking about redevelopment.”

Despite the rumors, the malls’ redevelopment is complicated because co-owners Coventry Real Estate Advisors and Developers Diversified Realty have been involved in an ongoing lawsuit.

Iraqi will put up nine Five Guys Burgers and Fries from SR 520 to the north border of King County.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries has been ZAGAT survey rated every year since 2001 and has been voted the Washingtonian Magazine’s “Readers’ Choice” number one burger every year since 1999.

Iraqi says he plans to hire 40 to 45 employees and is in  the process of hiring management right now.

“We’re different than other burger places because we don’t freeze, we make patties fresh, we hand cut potatoes, make our veggies fresh and go above and beyond (in the treatment of) our customers,” Iraqi said.

* Editor's Note: After publishing this story, Jamieson Furniture Gallery co-owner Rich Jamieson notified the Reporter that the city has extended the company's lease in Kirkland until March 31.

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