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Work on new Totem Lake Mall could start this year

Aerial photo of the two-staged Totem Lake Malls development site. Work on the first phase (the bottom circled “site”) could start later this year and be completed by 2010. - Photo courtesy of DDR/Coventry
Aerial photo of the two-staged Totem Lake Malls development site. Work on the first phase (the bottom circled “site”) could start later this year and be completed by 2010.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of DDR/Coventry

The new Totem Lake Mall could be here as soon as 2011. At least, that’s what its developers are saying.

After more than two years of uncertainty, the 1970s-era shopping mall will be redeveloped in two phases over the next three years, representatives from ownership group DDR/Coventry said last week.

Marc Hays, a leasing vice president for DDR (Developer’s Diversity Realty), a $9 billion real estate investing trust based out of Ohio, said demolition work on the “lower mall” portion that runs along Totem Lake Boulevard could start late this year, with some shops ready to open by early 2010. Construction would then begin on the “upper mall” (east of 120th St. N.E.), which is scheduled to be completed by late 2011.

Plans for the redevelopment, tentatively named “Totem Lake Malls,” were announced at a young professionals reception in downtown Bellevue June 18.

With the prospect of a $14 million budget deficit looming, city officials have pressed the developers on the project with an eye toward boosting the retail sales-tax base. The city said earlier this year it hoped to collect an additional $1.6 million or more in annual tax revenues once the project is complete.

“People have been asking us, ‘Why aren’t you doing something with Totem Lake Mall?’ Well -- we’re certainly trying,” city planner Jeremy McMahan said.

The City Council approved an initial draft plan for a $129 million redevelopment project in early 2006.

The mall was purchased by both DDR/Coventry in 2004 for $37 million, with a view to turn around the “underperforming” retail area. Hays said the property is well suited for two “power center-type” anchor tenants -- such as Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or Wal-Mart -- but no decision on the tenant mix has been made.

Plans presented at the meeting showed the redevelopment would expand the site’s present 290,000 square feet of building space to approximately 525,000 square feet, add a four-story parking garage and place 320 high-end luxury condos above the shopping center. Ross Dress for Less, Car Toys and Famous Footwear will stay in their existing building, and Hays said he was confident of retaining Trader Joe’s in the “lower mall” location. The developers are now looking for local retailers to fill the rest of the available space.

City planner Jon Regala, who said Totem Lake “has been broken for some time,” noted the latest proposal differs slightly from the initial site plan the Council approved in 2006, to which the city has already dedicated more that $15 million in right-of-way improvements. Gone are a proposed movie theater and office space.

Until DDR/Coventry submits an application to the Design Review Board for the first phase of their plan, however, Regala and McMahan said the city will have little input into its design.

Hays said DDR is hopeful Target will become one of the anchor tenants.

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