A makeover for The Lakewood Mall

Visitors to The Lakewood Mall would be forgiven if they didn’t recognize it as such, with all the demolition and construction going on at the Puget Sound area’s second largest mall.

While most of the mall’s major tenants – Target, Barnes & Noble, Gottschalks and the Lakewood Mall Cinemas movie theater – are still around, others are not.

Mervyn’s and the vacant spaces that used to hold merchandise for Lamonts and Emporium, as well as other, smaller interior retail spaces, have been demolished.

Meanwhile, under construction is a new Safeway grocery store, as well as Lakewood’s first City Hall.

All of this activity is part of MBK Northwest’s plan to produce a smaller, revamped property called Lakewood Towne Center that will, hopefully, see more success than The Lakewood Mall has seen thus far.

Due to limited highway access and competition from the nearby Tacoma Mall, The Lakewood Mall has been plagued by vacancies ever since it opened in 1989.

MBK Northwest, along with MBK Southern California, is part of MBK Retail, a real estate development group specializing in development and/or redevelopment of retail and entertainment projects throughout the Western United States.

MBK Northwest bought the mall from Wells Fargo on June 29, following a deal that fell apart between Lakewood and Hopkins Real Estate Group of Southern California, which was to buy the property from Wells Fargo.

They plan to reduce the size of the mall from 1.2 million square feet to about 900,000 square feet, and are striving to produce an area with a town center feel with grassy areas and a new City Hall for the young city.

New retailers on board for the revamped mall include Old Navy, G.I. Joe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Ross Dress For Less.

The purchase, renovation and new construction costs are about $70 million.

MBK Northwest has had success in the past with aggressively redeveloping troubled malls.

They are responsible for the creation of some of the region’s most-recognized retail landmarks, such as Parkway SuperCenter in Tukwila, SeaTac Village in Federal Way and the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter in Portland, Ore.

MBK Northwest’s architect is Benner Stange Architects of Portland, Ore. It’s general contractor is S.D. Deacon Construction.

The city’s architect on the City Hall project is Merrit + Pardini of Tacoma. Absher Construction is the general contractor for the City Hall.

The mall is set to reopen in the summer of 2002.