Wednesday, October 9, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Softer look for Alderwood Mall

Times Snohomish County bureau

LYNNWOOD — Targeting women and upscale shoppers, Alderwood Mall will replace its hardwood floors, high ceilings and utilitarian benches with carpeting, lower ceilings, couches and fireplaces.

A planned outdoor area called The Village is intended to create a "Main Street" atmosphere, and a zone called The Terraces will offer entertainment and restaurants. In addition, water and other natural landscaping will be intended to create a homier, Northwest environment.

The mall's expansion, which began in May, also includes:

• Construction of a 16-screen Loews movie theater.

• A Nordstrom store.

• Building design that incorporates indoor and outdoor shopping.

• Additional parking for 1,500 cars.

Aside from adding 200,000 square feet, Barry O'Connor, group manager for mall owner General Growth Properties, told a crowd at a South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce meeting last week that the revamped Alderwood Mall will appeal to local shoppers and raise the mall's regional profile. "We're going to just take down the hard steel inside," he said. "We're discovering our feminine side."

General Growth, Alderwood's Chicago-based parent company, is the second-largest mall developer in the country, according to data from the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, which owns Northgate and Tacoma malls, is the largest mall developer.

General Growth owns more than 160 malls in 41 states. Like other real-estate-investment trusts, General Growth's stock has performed well in recent quarters, and the company, with a $3 billion market capitalization, since July has bought 19 malls and broken ground on a $200 million mall in Des Moines, Iowa.

Jean Hales, president of the South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce, said she's confident that General Growth will succeed in making the mall an even bigger economic engine for the county. The mall's expansion could add 1,000 jobs.

In Lynnwood, Alderwood Mall will add $1 million in new tax revenues by 2005, a 7 percent increase over what it generates, according to David Kleitsch, the city's economic-development director. Along with other local development projects like a new convention center and a city-center initiative, Kleitsch said, "The mall helps build upon Lynnwood as a city of commerce."

For now, though, Alderwood developers are concerned with creating more commerce inside the mall. With forthcoming tenants such as Borders books and California Pizza Kitchen, the softer look is designed to bring in more shoppers — and more cash. Each year 17 million shoppers come to the mall, according to O'Connor, and those who make purchases spend an average of $68. O'Connor said his company wants to boost mall traffic by 25 percent and increase the average spending per customer.

From an economic perspective, O'Connor said rivals such as University Village, Bellevue Square and downtown Seattle stores perform better. Alderwood brings in $450 in annual revenue per square foot, compared with, say, $550 to $600 per square foot at Bellevue Square. Within a year of completion, O'Connor predicted the renovated Alderwood will surpass the $500 mark, eventually edging up toward $600.

He also said Alderwood may collaborate with existing tourism efforts at Bellis Fair Mall in Bellingham, also owned by General Growth. Mary Vermillion, the company's regional vice president, said more than 20 tour programs bring 550 busloads of shoppers to Bellis Fair each year.

Once Alderwood's renovation is complete, General Growth expects to raise rents as tenants renew their leases. O'Connor said he could not quantify a percentage rent increase or identify how many leases might be affected, since the mall calculates rent as a percentage of total store revenues and other terms subject to negotiations.

Jane Hodges: 425-745-7813 or


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