More stores coming to Lakewood Towne Center

Getting around the Lakewood Towne Center has become a little more difficult recently, with several areas blocked off and fences put up around various lots – all in preparation for Phase II construction this spring.

This next phase of development at the former Lakewood Mall includes the relocation of a few stores – Burlington Coat Factory and Office Depot – as well as the addition of new stores, including PETsMART and Pier 1 Imports.

Burlington Coat Factory and Office Depot are currently located next to the complex’s Safeway grocery store.

Burlington Coat Factory’s new building will be 70,000 square feet, an enlargement of 12,000 square feet over the current building, explained Dave Moore, senior vice president of MBK Northwest.

MBK Northwest is the developer responsible for transforming the Lakewood Mall into the Lakewood Towne Center.

Plans for Phase II call for the northern block of the open air mall to contain PETsMART, Pier 1 Imports and the new Office Depot, while the southern block will be home to the new Burlington Coat Factory and 25,000 square feet of building space with no specified tenants as of yet.

“The plan is to be open by Aug. 1,” Moore said by phone from his office in Portland, Ore. “It may be September when they open.”

MBK’s incremental plan is designed to minimize inconvenience to shoppers. Stores will remain open during construction.

“We’re doing it rather methodically,” Moore said, noting there are another two years of development ahead.

Phase III construction will focus on the northeastern corner of the Lakewood Towne Center, Moore said, including a new La Palma Mexican restaurant, as well as more restaurants and other retail establishments.

The former Burlington Coat Factory and Office Depot buildings will be torn down, Moore explained, to make way for a drugstore and a hardware store in line with Safeway.

Also as part of Phase III construction, Moore said MBK will be working with the City of Lakewood to improve the Bridgeport Way entrance to the mall, including curbs, sidewalks, tree planting, landscaping and the construction of retaining walls on both sides of the street.

All around, people seem satisfied with the Lakewood Towne Center’s progress so far.

“It’s very, very good,” Moore said of improved business. “The public and tenants are pleased. There is no question traffic is up.”

For most of its 13-year history, the enclosed retail shopping area that was the Lakewood Mall underperformed, with high vacancy rates and a low volume of foot traffic.

MBK Northwest, which specializes in buying and rehabilitating under-performing shopping centers, purchased the property in the summer of 2001 with plans to turn the Lakewood Mall into a slightly smaller mixed-use retail entertainment center.

Demolition of major portions of the Lakewood Mall began in October 2001, in order to bring in Old Navy, G.I. Joe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Michaels and Ross Dress For Less as tenants.

Stores that were retained include Target, Barnes & Noble, Loews Cineplex Odeon, Safeway, Burlington Coat Factory Office Depot and 24 Hour Fitness.
MBK Northwest also redesigned the property’s traffic patterns to make the mall more accessible to motor vehicles.

The Lakewood Towne Center, located at 10509 Gravelly Lake Dr. in Lakewood, is to be completed in 2005.