Construction is under way on a plan to revitalize the Totem Lake area of Kirkland with The Village at Totem Lake, a new development from California-based developer CenterCal Properties at the center of the effort.

Renderings courtesy Centercal

Renderings courtesy Centercal

CenterCal’s plan is to build a luxury theater, restaurants, retail, high-end residential spaces, and a village commons and park. The company calls it a “newly reimagined lifestyle center with a village feel.”

The lower mall at Totem Lake already has been demolished.

A Whole Foods will anchor the shopping center, and other popular businesses like Mod Pizza and Chipotle are expected to move in, said City of Kirkland’s economic development manager, Ellen Miller-Wolfe.

15_1201-DRB-The-Village-at-Totem-Lake_Page_15_editSome current tenants will remain at the mall, including the Ross store. Trader Joe’s also will remain but will be relocated, according to Rick Beason, who is representing CenterCal on the project.

The Totem Lake Business District is Kirkland’s only designated urban center by the State Growth Management Planning Council in 2003. The Urban Center designation means Totem Lake is a hub for regional growth, and expected to have high-density housing and employment — specifically 15,000 jobs within a half-mile of a transit center.

The area currently is home to Kirkland’s largest employer, EvergreeHealth, and the city estimates the Totem Lake area will grow from 5,544 to 9,800 people by 2030 with the housing rising up to 6,000 units. There is an expected 11,511- to 29,000-person growth in employment.

There are 2,117 residential units in review for the area in and around the area. There also are office and community proposals coming in, thanks in part to buzz created by The Village at Totem Lake.

“It’s the catalyst for new development in Totem Lake,” Miller-Wolfe said.

The city’s plan for the Totem Lake Business District was updated in December, and the original plan for the area was written in 2002. Something akin to The Village, with an emphasis on mixed-use and community space, was described in the city’s 2002 and updated 2015 plan: a development that would act as a focal point for a lively business and retail area.

Totem-Lake-Mixed-Use-Plaza-rendering_CROPPED“It’s been very much a part of the vision for the Totem Lake Business District for a long time,” said Senior City Planner Dorian Collins.

Now, conditions are ripe for development, and the city was eager to support CenterCal, which also built Valley Mall in Union Gap and The Trails at Silverdale, in addition to projects in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and California. CenterCal is based in El Segundo, California.

The Village at Totem Lake will replace the seen-better-days Totem Lake Malls, which was originally built in 1973 and has been through multiple ownerships.

“The existing Totem Lake Mall(s) represent an outdated shopping experience … We are very excited to bring a modern ‘gathering place’ experience to Kirkland, and we are confident the community is going to love its new favorite place,” CenterCal President Jean Paul Wardy said in a news release at the time of acquisition.

The development company approached Kirkland to purchase the 26-acre site, and received a commitment of $15 million in public improvements from the city, said Miller-Wolfe.

Those improvements will be broken into three parts: Improvements to 120th Avenue, a public plaza, and, if costs of the first two allow, an ownership interest in some stalls in a parking garage.

Miller-Wolfe sees the mall area as the heart of the Totem Lake Business District.

“As it goes, so does Totem Lake go,” she said.

The Village at Totem Lake also will benefit from the in-the-works Cross Kirkland Corridor, and has the thumbs-up from Kirkland’s officials.

“This project allows citizens a better quality of life as they can buy products and services they need in their own community. The retail sales tax from this new mall will allow the City to keep its property tax base lower, keeping the city affordable as it can be,” Mayor Amy Walen said in a 2015 news release.

The project is located off Interstate 405 near the Evergreen Hospital Medical Center at 12650 Totem Lake Blvd. NE.

Once built, the development will be visible from I-405.

This article appeared in the June 2016 issue of 425 Business.